What is entrepreneurship, really?

Many of us have our own definitions of what it means to be an entrepreneur and we don’t even realize it. 

 

Back when I was studying at my University, I had a guest entrepreneurship professor tell my international entrepreneurship business class that you can’t call yourself an entrepreneur unless you are one of the greats. You need to have changed the way in which society lives.

Like, Henry Ford, who changed the way we transport from horse and buggie to car. “THAT”, he said, “is an entrepreneur, anyone else is simply a business owner”.  After this guest lecturer left, my professor asked the class who agrees with this way of thinking. I couldn’t help but raise my hand to debate this. 

I’ve had a myriad of entrepreneurs in my family, and being one myself one day had always been my goal since I was little. In fact, I planned to be a serial entrepreneur, but that’s for another discussion.

So, I raised my hand and I said “That may be his definition of entrepreneurship, but that is definitely not the only version and I do disagree with him. I think there are many other versions and definitions of being an entrepreneur.” The entire class turned to me as they continued to keep quiet. I believe there was only one other student out of at least 30 that agreed with me. 

What’s funny about this day, is that I learned that, besides the fact that my desire to make a difference and be an entrepreneur became even stronger – I also realized that even in an entrepreneurship class at a University, there were not many diversified thoughts . . . but rather still, group think.

The students in this class were only in this class because they had some desire to learn about entrepreneurship or become an entrepreneur themselves. And frankly, if they were that easy influenced from a University entrepreneurship professor, I’m not sure what their future as an entrepreneur would entail.

 

“A life that what was once a dream, they plan to turn into a reality. The day dreams of a giant house, traveling the world, being able to do what they want when they want it . . . actually manifests itself”

I’ve always had people in my life one way or another trying to defy my desires to gain control of my life and essentially achieve the “unachievable”. What does that even mean? Well . . . one thing I’ve learned as ridiculous as it may sound, is that there is a lot of jealousy going on in the world. And, I don’t mean jealousy about how someone looks, or how much money they have. No, I mean, jealousy over watching others chase their dreams and do something they are so passionate about that it actually brings them happiness. A life that what was once a dream, they plan to turn into a reality. The day dreams of a giant house, traveling the world, being able to do what they want when they want it . . . actually manifests itself. 

A life, that someone from the outside looking in may have also wanted, but didn’t take that path in their own life. And now, they realize it’s too late, or at least, they think it is. 

You see, we are told, that society is supposed to work a certain way in life. A majority of this, I believe, to be a result of years and years of what I like to call “bubbles” that we have lived in. Many of us (if we are even lucky), grow up and go through K-12 to then be told we need to apply to a University (hopefully a good one), get a scholarship/full ride (maybe have it all paid for us OR leave with mounds and mounds of student debt), pick a safe and secure major and then on top of all of that, be confined to what our University tells us we can do within that major. THAT being one of the most ridiculous parts of it all!

If we have noticed anything prominent of the millennial generation besides being called “lazy” (which I strongly disagree with by the way), it is that we have, as a generation, decided that we want to have more control with how our life goes. So, as millennials, we may hop from one job to the next, we may change our major three times and we may decide that after working in a career path for 20 years that we want to . . . well . . . change it up!

And, truly there is NOTHING wrong with that. So long as you are self-sufficient, who deserves to have a say in how your life goes? Even if it is your parents who are truly confused as to why you no longer want to take the career path that they did for the last 50 years . . . every day . . . of their lives . . .

That’s okay! Life is TOO DAMN SHORT!

“You’ll end up working so hard and being so passionate about it that you will most likely become innovative in that field and be the game changer. Why? Because you love it so much . . . your soul is essentially activated by it.”

At my University, I studied MIS (management information systems) and was told that there were only really a few directions I could take my degree. I was not only told this by my class instructors and the administration but also subtly shown this by guest speakers and businesses that came to my career fairs. These starkly similar businesses that only had specific industries and job placements, were somehow supposed to convince me that these were the only career paths I could follow. I would actually spend time arguing with my fellow classmates explaining how there were so many more options out there than what was put in front of us and many of them couldn’t help but disagree. Sometimes, it felt like I was speaking into a void.  Funny enough, the only reason there were specific jobs and industries showing up at these career fairs, is because they were the only ones the University built bridges with. That should say enough right there. 

I mean seriously, my classes consisted of database building and management, white-hat hacking, website building, coding, IOT, and whatever else I could be prepared with to be a future CTO. On top of that, I paired this with an entrepreneurship concentration, and all other basic classes of a business major (finance, marketing, international business, economics, accounting and much more). You’re telling me, after all of this, I could only go with the path of a systems analyst or a security analyst? Strange, isn’t it?

Now, going back to freshman year Jess, I really chose to stick with business because while I planned on being an entrepreneur, no matter what it was, I knew that I needed to have a sense of business, my passion for whatever the business would be about . . . now that would come into play after.

 

And that’s how I really view everyone’s vocational path. If you really love something enough, it doesn’t matter what place in life you are at.

 

Your passions will prove your success, because guaranteed you will end up working your ass of to become an expert/pro in that field. You’ll end up working so hard and being so passionate about it that you will most likely become innovative in that field and be the game changer. Why? Because you love it so much . . . your soul is essentially activated by it. 

“I have to keep my passions close to me and not share out loud so much. But, rather, work in silence and let the success be my noise.” 

But, one thing I have noticed to stand out even more than criticism toward “job hopping” is the criticism toward young entrepreneurs. And on top of that, towards starting your own business in general (whatever age that may be).

 Whether it has been family, friends or family-friends, peers, professors or teachers, I’ve been told in some way or another that my dreams were “crazy” or “over the top”, “unimaginable” or “not the most practical and something that can be maybe done WHILE I have a steady job”.

 I’ve been told by professors that “starting a business should come after working in the field for a number of years.

 I’ve been told by family-friends that “traveling is not really something I’ll get to do as I get older and have more responsibilities (aka having a different job), and I should enjoy it while I can”.

 I’ve been told by some friends that my ideas and dreams are a bit crazy. Or, had been given some seriously confused stares when I told them after graduation I decided I wasn’t going to go for the usual corporate job. The “that’s amazing and so exciting” speech, combined with the subtle concerned eyebrow and cocked head couldn’t give away how they truly felt any stronger. 

AND don’t even get me started on being a WOMAN . . . that is ALSO for another discussion.

 

I’ve had unwarranted criticisms along with nosy-bodies trying to find out every little detail of my business. Like how successful I was, how much money I was making, how much money I had spent so far, etc. All of which, I believe stemmed from my age at the time as well . . . starting a business at the mere age of 23 years old had its fun criticism quirks. I mean, would you ask a 50 year old how much money their business is making? Or, how much money they have spent to get it going? Unless they are speaking to an investor, I don’t see why that would come up in conversation. Nor, how it would be appropriate.

If there is one thing I’ve learned to be most important along the way, it is that  – I have to keep my passions close to me and not share out loud so much. But, rather, work in silence and let the success be my noise. 

 

“Be the one to stand up in the room of 30 and say you disagree even if everyone else is too scared to give their opinion. Why? Because those are the thought leaders.”

But, one thing I can say that sticks out the most and frankly is the reason behind all of these stressful conversations . . . is jealousy and the group think it is stemmed from.

Sure, I have had the genuine encounters where others were truly happy for me. But, they are few and far between. I’m lucky that some of those conversations were with few that are actually close to me.

And often, when I bring up how difficult it is to even talk about business with so and so to someone I can actually talk about it with – I often get the same answer. “Well, they must just be jealous. You are doing something they couldn’t imagine doing.”

 

And my question to that is . . . Why?

Why do you not imagine yourself doing it?

Is it because it’s scary?

Is it because you have been told your entire life you are on a certain career path and that is just simply all you know?

Is it because it is the unknown?

Or, is it because you are simply being judgmental (and to that I say, go get yourself grounded). 

Because, frankly, anyone could do it. But, not everyone could be successful at doing it. And that is a matter of grit and strength…. tenacity and desire. Passion and fire. Being an entrepreneur is NOT for the faint of heart. But, it is for those who want to take control of their life. Defy the whole “I’m destined to work at this 9-5 desk job to just live for the weekends” but rather “I’m going to do whatever the hell I want!” … kind of life. 

Be the one to stand up in the room of 30 and say you disagree even if everyone else is too scared to give their opinion. Why? Because those are the thought leaders. Just like the guest professor who told my class that they would not be distinguished as an entrepreneur unless they changed the way in which society lived. While his statement may have only been an opinion, it still made an impact on how the rest of the class thought and therefore followed. Maybe he was considered a thought leader in their eyes. Maybe, because he was confident enough to give his opinion, although it may not always mean it’s right. But, that’s what we notice most often about group think, right? 

So, I challenge you, to make a change in your life, against the grain and for the better. Whatever it may be. Because, if you analyze your life, can you truly say that your decisions of what you do are solely based off of your own desires and passions?

If the answer is no, then I suggest taking some time to MAKE some time for yourself.

Stay Motivated.

xx

Jessica Hanna