If you ever meet a entrepreneur

If you ever meet someone who has started their own business, please
remember what I’m about to tell you.

Starting a business is hard.
Creating something significant from nothing is one of the hardest
things a individual will ever do. A entrepreneur is like a novelist.
Even after the book is published the author never feels its 100%
perfect. In every single page of her novel is a piece of the authors
soul and mind. A business created by a human is as much a part of that
person as a novel is to its author and it requires overcoming a lot of
self doubt and frustration to create a significant business. A
dedicated entrepreneur will take any criticism of their business
seriously, regardless of how they respond on the outside. So if you
have feedback, give it to a entrepreneur like you would give it to a
artist.

Entrepreneurs care about more than money.
A business has to make money to survive, it has to earn a profit to
live. This is fundamental and a business that does not do these things
isn’t really a business. But too often people think that entrepreneurs
only care about making money and that is the furthest thing from
reality. Think of it this way, people need food to live, the more
successful you become the better the food gets. That’s a great bonus
to success. But people need more than food to be satisfied. After all,
what would life be like if it was all about food? Implying to a
entrepreneur that he only cares about money is a sign of ignorance on
your part. If you really want to win them over, ask them what about
their business are they most proud of.

Entrepreneurs have dramatically different life experiences than you.
Despite growing up in a rough neighborhood I’ve never really been to a
war zone, I don’t know what it’s like to have someone trying to kill
me on a daily basis. And despite loving war movies, I would never want
to be in a real one and I have no idea how it would feel to have been
in one.

But I’ve had partners try to kill me in business. I’ve had one
particular partner offer my employees large salaries and successfully
recruit them away. I’ve had a employee sabotage operations. I’ve had
people close to me start competing businesses, I once lived in a
basement with a single window that the neighborhood dog pissed on
daily when being walked, just to save money to fund my company. The
pissing dog part isn’t really about entrepreneurship, but it is about
sacrifice and a lot of suffering. Unless these things have also
happened to you, you don’t really know how it feels to build a business.

The semi-entrepreneur
I’ve met people who call themselves entrepreneurs who are really
project managers. They make little projects that are cute and fun but
they don’t actually sacrifice anything. They never fully commit. To me
this is like calling yourself a war vet simply because you own a gun.
If you want to be a entrepreneur, remember you don’t know shit until
you have survived a near death experience. If you have the luck of
working with a successful entrepreneur like I did when I worked with
Martin Varsavsky, its important to remember that behind that exterior
of professionalism are the scars of war. Ask a successful entrepreneur
about their war scars, they are always great stories after the fact. A
semi-entrepreneur doesn’t have any, but if they stick with it long
enough, they will.

Of course, don’t take my word for it. Listen to this story from the founders of SliceHost http://37signals.com/founderstories/slicehost

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