When starting out, it is an uphill battle for many entrepreneurs to find their voice in their industry and get their business out there. Just like you may have experienced when job hunting back in the day, employers wanted you to have a certain number of years experience in the industry, but no-one actually wanted to give you that experience. A catch-22 that can feel totally unfair if you know your own capabilities and just want the chance to prove yourself.
This scenario is often the case for entrepreneurs. While you obviously aren’t job hunting, you are looking for opportunities to make yourself and your brand known in the world. But it seems like no-one will give you the time of day until you have actually “achieved” something. So until you are “successful” it can essentially feel like you are a nobody.
We need a to show the whole story, not just the end result
However, people don’t always want to see the happy ending to the story where the entrepreneur was ultra successful, made millions of dollars and lived happily ever after.
While that can be inspiring, it is often much more inspiring to hear from others just like yourself who are in the startup phase right now. People who haven’t achieved their vision yet. People who, on the outside, seem like they haven’t achieved much at all despite having a couple of years of hard work under their belt.
In business books, on podcasts and in articles, we are always being told one of the secrets to success is to “love the process”. That means to love all the ups and downs that come with entrepreneurship, especially in the early days. However, the reality is something different. The process of starting up isn’t celebrated at all. Only the end result- if it ends up in what most people define as success. People only want to share your story once you’ve been through it, not while you are living it.
But this is how we get the one-sided version of entrepreneurship. The side that only shows how people are successful and make lots of money being an entrepreneur. The side with all the challenges and the ultra hard startup days remains hidden. When we only see the glory, it’s no wonder that people have a fear of failure and will quit at the first sign of trouble. Most people don’t even realise that every single entrepreneur faces challenges and no-one is an overnight success.
There needs to be a balance of what is depicted in the media about entrepreneurship and that begins with seeking out startups and letting them share their current story and their vision of where they are heading.
All entrepreneurs deserve to be role models, not just the ones who have “made it”.
These people have just as much to offer an audience, if not more, in terms of inspiration for other entrepreneurs. These are the people who aren’t too far removed from their humble beginnings to forget how hard it was at the start and the challenges they faced in business and life to get their break.
They are living all those unique start up challenges right now. Those early years can be isolating and exhausting. There are extra challenges that startup entrepreneurs face, such as bootstrapping or working late at night after their 9-to-5 or once the kids have gone to bed.
These first years of a business are not insignificant. Startup entrepreneurs deserve to share their story, why they started, their vision for a better world and what they are working on right now. Whether they achieve “success” or not is irrelevant, because even if their businesses aren’t around in another five years, they are still role models to other aspiring entrepreneurs. That’s because they took a chance that many people don’t. They took the chance to make a difference in the world, create a different life for themselves and put their idea out into the world. All of which is something to be celebrated.
If you can help, then you should
For those who have podcasts, media sites, article submissions, events or conferences, basically anyone who is in some sort of position where they can help fellow entrepreneurs build awareness of their brand and their vision, please use your platform for good. Use it in a way that shows the many sides of entrepreneurship. Most claim to be about helping others build their businesses and create success and now it is time to prove it. Helping others also means sharing the stories of people who are relatable right now, not just those who were once upon a time.
And for those of you who are trying to get your voices heard- keep going, ignore the rejections and just keep asking. Keep sending the emails, making the phone calls and trying to establish the right connections. Keep voicing your opinions on what matters to you in any way that you can. Your time will come when others will stand up and realise that you have something great to offer the world. Then they will be knocking your door down to get you on their podcasts!