Behind The Eyes of An Entrepreneur

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Behind these eyes, these bloodshot red eyes are stories. Stories of hardship, struggles and pain. The flashing memories of all the fights your parents had over money, the hard times of not feeling good enough when you didn’t have the things your friends could easily afford. The self-doubt, the voices in your head saying your dreams are impossible.

But you said NO and declared war on failure, burned your bridges. Never again, you drew a line in the sand and said ‘Never again, never again will my family go through such hard times.”

Every entrepreneur has a story, the reason why they do what they do. My story is no different.

Entrepreneurship is a tough, lonely road, a lot of people will laugh at you but who gives a shit, the reality is we all must look at ourselves in the mirror at the end of the day and it’s all about keeping that person happy. Be clear on your why and it will all workout.

‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

Can you imagine a world without the entrepreneurs? That’s impossible. In fact, if the affirmative were to be the case, we all could have been entrapped somewhere in the Stone Age.

Of course, that was probably a bold exaggeration. But, there’s no doubt that a world without the entrepreneurs would be a terrible nightmare for everyone. Basically, it would mean a world without a sports car. It would be a world without smartphones. And it would be a world without the internet as we know it today. Seriously, who wants to live in such a mind-numbing world? It’s certainly not the Americans.

In case you haven’t thought of it yet, there is a reason the United States is consistently crowned “the world’s #1 entrepreneurial country”. On the surface, it may look like it is purely due to the American dream ethos. And it is. But when you look deeper, you’d also notice that the ethos of the American dream itself was actually modeled largely by the 5 entrepreneurs who built America. The Men Who Built America — a 2012 History TV documentary series — captured this truth nicely. In fact, I recommend you see the documentary if you haven’t done so already.

Those 5 iconic American entrepreneurs saw things differently and literally laid both the infrastructural and entrepreneurial foundations of the modern America. And in doing so, they forever espoused and entrenched the concept of entrepreneurship into the American culture. Today the United States is the global headquarters of entrepreneurship. But that’s probably because her people keep seeing things differently, just like their earlier compatriots did two centuries ago.

What does an entrepreneur see when analyzing situations?

Behind the eyes of an entrepreneur is a brain that’s trained to interpret events differently. For this reason, the entrepreneur sees endless possibilities where others see dead-end. This is not just true in the United States. It is also true all over the world — amongst the people of every race and creed — where entrepreneurs are found. This learned ability to see things differently is the primary reason the entrepreneurs respond to events differently. Thus, regardless where you go to in the world, you’d see the entrepreneurs acting differently from the rest of the people.

Where others see a risk, the entrepreneur sees an opportunity

The Southern Desert of Israel was considered uninhabitable several decades ago by some “realistic” commentators. Yet, the innovative and entrepreneurial Israeli farmers and researchers refused to get perturbed by the obvious contradictions stacked against them. Instead, they chose to see an arid farmland in the midst of that risky, uninhabitable desert. Today, the rest is history. And I like the way Ron Gluckman sums it up: “The dry deserts of the Middle East have induced intensely personal delusions”. However, “the pioneers who gazed upon the barren plains of Palestine a half-century ago saw farmland”. But today, the innovative methods of “irrigation [has] turned Israel into the world’s leading exporter of citrus fruit”.

Where others see an obstacle, the entrepreneur sees a call to action

Desertification was also a major obstacle to economic development in the ancient areas of Dubai. In fact, to communicate how ominous the obstacle was, the late ruler of Dubai is often quoted as saying: “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel.”

In other words, the Sheik looked three generations ahead and saw the reemergence of a historic obstacle. But he wasn’t paralyzed by fear. Instead, he saw the threatening obstacle as a call to action. So he rose up and did something totally unprecedented about it. Today, the formerly desolate areas in Dubai are fast turning into a global city and an infrastructural wonderland of the future. Dubai even boasts of a bunch of man-made islands. Thanks to the entrepreneurial perception of the leader who chose to see things differently.

Where others sense fear, the entrepreneur feels courage

The Greek Debt Crisis had already escalated so much by the summer of 2015. Yet, while the economic devastation raged on, the country got hit by a second anarchy — refugee crisis. The situation was scary. And many Greeks protested. But in the midst of all the turmoil, a young social entrepreneur rose to the task and chose to look at things differently. Her name is Paula Schwarz, and she was just 25. Paula did not only rally resources to help the refugees, she also harnessed resources to build a “scalable tech solution” that would help the migrants integrate well into the larger European society. She chose courage over fear.

While others dream about income, the entrepreneur looks for needs to meet

“Shit business is a serious business”, says Mr. Isaac Agbetunsin, aka “Otunba Gadaffi. Mr. Isaac is the Nigerian entrepreneur who founded Nigeria’s Dignified Mobile Toilets sensation, also known as DMT. For context, this is a country where Youth Unemployment rate has always been a double-digit figure. Thus young people often drift about looking for ways to make easy money. But none thought of doing something serious about the endemic culture of open defecation that plagued virtually all outdoor events in Nigeria. Not until “Otunba Gadaffi” stepped up and built a multi-million-naira brand out of the pure poo. Basically, money came to him when he started meeting a common need in an uncommon way.

While others crave for money, the entrepreneur is obsessed with value

For how long can you run a business without revenue? Six months? One year? Two years? Founders of Google did it for about four years or more. They actually had no idea how they could make money with Google in those early days. In other words, they had no Revenue Model for Google — which, by the way, was a very irrational thing to do. But why did they do it anyway? They did it because they were not willing to compromise their commitment to optimal value delivery just to make some quick bucks. In fact, as you probably know already, Google’s #1 operating philosophy is to: “Focus on the user and all else will follow”. Thus, they were willing to keep losing money for as long as necessary until they figured out the best way to generate revenue without messing up the user experience. Today, Google is a global phenomenon both in value delivery and revenue generation.

In Conclusion

From the Americas to Africa, from Asia to Europe, and from Australia to Melanesia, virtually anyone can develop visible entrepreneurial skills. And this has been proven across the board. You can build a bunch of commercially viable products that improve lives, transform cultures and make the world a better place. It all begins with training your brain to see things differently, even in that little e-commerce operation (or other hustles) which you currently manage.

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