I have interacted and talked to a multitude of startup entrepreneurs over the course of these last few years.
You can bet I have tried to figure them out.
What is the common thread?
What makes an entrepreneur?
There are a number of things which stand out: tenacity, hard work, execution, with good doses of people skills and creative problem solving.
You’d probably find these characteristic in a number of entrepreneurial books and blogs.
What I realize now though is that perhaps the most common thread is a bit more rudimentary. It isn’t a skill in as much as it is a paradigm, a state of mind, a way of looking at things.
All startup founders I’ve met are hopeful people.
It sort of comes with the territory.
Lean Startup author Eric Ries describes a startup as:
A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.
If you take this level of uncertainty and couple it with the sobering thought that up to 70%-80% of startups fail?
Well, you sort of NEED to be a hopeful person, right?
But there’s more.
Perhaps the best illustration of hope in the entrepreneur is the way she conquers Hope’s polar opposite – Fear.
“This will never work!”
“This is going to be B-I-G!”
“I will be out in the streets begging for food if I fail!”
“If this doesn’t work, I can just go back to corporate. No problem.”
“I will be laughed at!”
“I will be the next Zuckerberg!”
“It’s a recession. This is a very bad time to startup a company!”
“It’s a recession! There’ll be hundreds of opportunities to start a company!”
How we see what the future holds largely dictates what sort of risks we take.
A hopeful person will take many leaps. Even if some of those leaps fail, they’ll think well enough of the future that they’ll take even more leaps.
A fearful person might not take a single significant leap at all. (not realizing that stagnancy in this new, ultra-dynamic economy is the worst risk of all)
In fact, the very interesting thing is that a hopeful person doesn’t see risk at all. She sees opportunity.
When you attend meetings of entrepreneurs, want-to-preneurs and startup owners, there is a certain energy that fills the room. It is palpable. Get these people together, and almost immediately, discussions about a better future happen – a new business concept, possible partnerships, new ways of working together.
This energy, this hope, is what I love about the startup scene and talking to entrepreneurs. I seldom saw this in my corporate stints. Hope is engrossing, uplifting, and contagious.
Want to put up your own startup someday? Perhaps one stumbling block is your mindset.
You just have to get rid of your dark glasses and look at the world with rosier lens. And you know what?
You CAN change a mindset.
Like love, hope is very much a decision.