It has been nearly three months since I launched my own venture, and it’s been one Hell of a ride! There are daily triumphs and disappointments, laughter and tears, confidence and fears. Needless to say, the days are full with work, strategy, learning and heart.
There is so much hard work that goes into making a business work, and all of that comes into sharp relief — all those little details you may have taken for granted when you worked for someone else — when you work for yourself. I have always considered myself a fairly disciplined person, but launching my own venture has taught me that there really is always room for improvement.
The beginning and the end of all work, though, is confidence. Not confidence to the point of arrogance and delusion, but a confidence that you know what you’re doing, and that even if you don’t, you have the presence of mind and persistence to find the right answers for you. (I emphasize the “you” because I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all — not in clothing and definitely not in business.)
It is not easy to maintain that healthy level of confidence every single day, but I do try.
One challenge that I have noticed as I’m paving my own path is that I’m scared to call myself a business person or <<gulp>> an entrepreneur.
This latter point occurred to me when I was Skyping with a fellow business person/entrepreneur last week. (This person has also become a friend.) She is young, enthusiastic and hardworking — all the things I consider myself as well. She has a drive to be authentic and do good work, also characteristics I aspire for. And though she has been in the business game just a couple of years longer than I have, she has no qualms about including me in that group of people she herself is a part of: the entrepreneur.
I, on the other hand, feel a little skittish when using that title for myself. Or calling my work a <<double gulp>> true-blue “business.”
I know this self-made mind game has to do with my perception and confidence. Entrepreneurship has really evolved since the 1700s. And maybe the modern definition is too inclusive for some peoples’ tastes. For myself, an entrepreneur is a visionary on the scale of Steve Jobs or Jacqueline Novogratz. Entrepreneurs are big people with big ideas and strong track records of success. How can my newborn venture, still being swaddled and keeping me up at night, dare to compare?
And here comes confidence. As I’ve gotten older, I realize that it’s the most important thing. All my loved ones remind me of this on a daily basis. It’s the foundation upon which everything I create is built. Without confidence, it all collapses, as precarious and vulnerable as a house of cards.
I do believe that the language we use to speak to and of ourselves is critical. It’s a self-reinforcing mechanism to the same tune as what Seth Godin and Pastor Joel Osteen remind us of. It forces you to believe in yourself, even if that means that you have to move just a bit (or a lot) out of your comfort zone to do so.
What can I say? I’m a work-in-progress. And that’s actually a beautiful thing. What I keep at the back of my mind each day is that I want to be proud of who I am, what I do, how I spend my time. There’s a depth to those feelings that no one can take away from me; on the contrary, only I can take them away from myself.
So, here goes: I’m Nisha, and I’m an entrepreneur.
There, another challenge overcome, another step taken.