For someone who would rather not interact with anyone at all, if I could help it, trying my hand at entrepreneurship was probably the most illogical thing to do. See, the thing with taking risks, for smart people, is to take manageable risks. And for an asocial person to attempt being an entrepreneur is akin to trusting an addict with the keys to the contraband store. The end results are not often pretty and quite predictable. And that is as bad as it gets when it comes to taking manageable risks and getting it miserably wrong.
It, honestly, is not fun to face the end of the year (well, yet another year) with the same conclusion — that you need to try harder and that for all the effort, results are just not there — at what is effectively the fifth year of trying out entrepreneurship as a means to make a living. As the opportunity costs mount, derision is abundant and faith — from yourself and from close ones in yourself — is non-existent, the logical choice is to be logical (and smart) and bail while you still can.
I have read probably hundreds of accounts of where I find myself right now. Yet, living it feels like nothing I have read before. Yes, I know the drill. You should reach out and find the support in people around you and it will all become bearable, if not a whole lot better. That is the theory, real life is quite a bit different. Since the choices that led to now have been only mine, the failure exclusively belongs to me and me alone. Success — well, that finds many owners.
The dull, dark and dreary stuff aside what I can tell you is that entrepreneurship is the best test of who you really are. And I don’t mean, by entrepreneurship, freelance gigs. Actual entrepreneurship tests you like nothing else. Everything begins and ends with you. And, should you fail, it will all exclusively belong to you. Considered as a coin toss series, in this game, the odds are loaded against you. Lose — it is all yours. Win — it is a collective effort.
In short, it is not for the faint of heart. Those who have succeeded, you have my greatest respect. Those who have failed, you have even more of my respect. Those who have failed and outlived the failure, I respect you the most.
At an earlier phase in my working life, I have really held it against the talkers in the business. I mean, how could you, without anything to back it up, talk your way into a fine deal? It looked unjust, much on the lines of a lot of successful managers being good only at managing people with no other core skill of their own.
And, as always, life becomes the greatest teacher. Business, is the best social activity out there. It is all about people. You need to be able to read people well. You need to be able to read people well to understand what they are looking for and appeal to the part of them that needs appealing to. That, is the primary enabler of a deal and not any other ability of yours. Thus exists the baffling bias towards who can paint a pretty picture better without having a clue about how to bring that picture to life.
Business is all about the persona, it is all about the narrative, it is all about being able to trust, just on a hunch. The longer you survive trying to do this, the more you realize that the overbearing bias towards a positive narrative and the persona is not an aberration, but a reasonably reliable social signal that is valid within a particular context. The popular exposition of this extends from not being fired for having Microsoft or Oracle as a vendor to understanding why that four figure (in dollars) tux is well worth the price you have paid for it.
If you are smart enough, you will realize that value is not what you perceive as value, but value is what the key players in the game perceive as value. There are probable instances of overlap there — between what you think as value and what the crucial players think of as value — but it is a rare overlap to find, should it be the case that you are asocial by nature.
For me, it is a journey that has taken five years too long. I wish I could have seen and known all of that I know right now, when I started out in 2008. But, as life will make it amply clear to you, there are things you learn by thinking and imagining and there are things you learn from experience. This is something that took me five long years to come to understand. It is frustrating as hell, and I won’t lie about it. But there is no other way I could have learnt all of this.
But, for all the losses, I am not giving this up. This is what I will sink or swim with.
Onward and upward!