Entrepreneur Island

July 20, 2009

As the sun begins to set, the work day does not end. Instead, work continues late into the night with sleep the last thing on one’s mind. This is the life I have chosen. — An Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, if you want to ‘survive’ and make it off the ‘island’, then you must succeed. Failure is not an option, yet it is the most common result. In what can be called odd, so many people choose to play this game of ‘entrepreneurship’ even though they are fully aware that odds are against them.

The biggest question that one may ask is “Why play?” For some it is the thrill of watching their dreams take flight while for others it just comes natural. Just how some are born natural athletes, some are just natural entrepreneurs. For those that choose to follow their dreams and ideas, they find themselves stranded on an island with only one way off: success. This is as real as it gets. No one tells you how to play the game, nor how to succeed. You have to trust your instinct and most of all your dream.

The Island

With little resources and new problems at every corner, an entrepreneur is essentially on an island of his own, trying to find a way off of it. An entrepreneur stuck an on island is never there by accident. This is the path they have chosen. This isn’t some reality TV show where producers are making sure that they are safe and secure. Instead, this is as real as it gets. If you lose, you don’t get to try again, you just have to keep moving forward.

Your “Tribe”

Once on the island, an entrepreneur quickly realizes the difficulty in trying to ‘survive’ without any help. Without help, the chances of success are lower. Thus the concept of the ‘tribe’ is introduced. The tribe that one forms as an entrepreneur shares a common and important trait: the belief that they will succeed. When one member of the ‘tribe’ begins to waiver in confidence, group morale is affected.

Just like in a company, a tribe has its own hierarchy. From the leader of the group to the support lines, each part of the tribe plays an essential role. The startup ‘tribe’ is unique in that individuals within the group may be asked to take on different roles and assignments. For a tribe to be successful it is imperative that there be some sort of flexibility within the group. A member that is able to take on many different tasks is far more valuable than someone that can only do one.

Create Your Own Map

As an entrepreneur you can read as much you want on how to start a business, but in the end their is no blueprint to success. No two success stories are the same. They may be similar, but no two are identical. As an entrepreneur not only are you an island, but you are also without a map. Instead you are to make your own. There is not set path you can take, you decide where it goes.

The hardest part about not having a ‘map’ are the distractions you come across along the way. Because you make your own decisions and don’t have to follow a set route, opportunities that may seem like the right choice may in fact just be a distraction and slow you down. I believe Jack Ma, CEO and Founder of Alibaba.com said it best:

If there are nine rabbits on the ground and you want to catch one, just focus on one.  Change your tactics if you need to, but don’t change the rabbit you’re focused on.  Just stick with it.

Being able to identify between good opportunities and dead-ends is crucial. Time is money and dead-ends are just a waste of time.

Giving Up

As an entrepreneur when one finds the odds against them and no end in site, giving up shouldn’t be an option. Instead of giving up, one needs to realize that as humans we are not perfect and that we will make mistakes. From those mistakes, we need to learn from them and make the appropriate adjustments the next time around. Giving up means you are accepting defeat. The enemy of an entrepreneur is doubt. Doubt that what they have been working toward is nothing but a failure. If one intends to be successful, being able to cast away doubt must first be done.

The island for entrepreneurs symbolizes two things: isolation and dreams. The isolation refers to the experiences that an entrepreneur faces when they leave the 9-5 jobs. People can offer you help, but as an entrepreneur, you are alone. No one but yourself and team will be able to say “I understand. Also on the island, dreams can become reality. An entrepreneur starts with an idea and works to making it become a reality.

Many have succeeded in making it off the island, but many more are still waiting for ‘big’ break. It may take weeks, months, and even years, but we are all looking for the day we make it off the island

Photo by Patrick Smith Photography

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  • Reply Nick Tart July 22, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    This is a great metaphor! Really well done… ReTweeted!

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