There’s a particular barrier that needs to be broken to become an entrepreneur. Some have wasted their savings, their family and their lives to attempt getting through it – and have not succeeded in doing so. Any average person can be a business owner if they’re willing to put forth an above average effort; but to be an entrepreneur – a true entrepreneur, one must transcend the mental barrier in order to gain a sense of, clarity.
I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like to, but I do as much as I can. One of my early inspirations in the form of ink and binding comes from a book entitled The Power of Unreasonable People – How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World. I won’t lie – I was forced to read it. And had I not been, I’m sure I wouldn’t be in the position I am today; so thank you, Professor Gebissa (no thanks for the D on my final paper though). As I extracted the information from the words on each page, I felt as though I had a connection. A connection to the people who wrote the book, the case studies within its pages and to the ideas that would, from the outside looking in, seem utterly – unreasonable. The thesis for the book is that it’s these kinds of ideas that change the world. Just the other day I saw a post on Google+ from an inspiration in the form of flesh and bone known as Richard Branson. It said: “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.”
This past weekend, I took part in a 150 mile charity bicycle tour, BikeMS. I rode 75 miles a day and am by no means, an avid bicyclist. I rode in on a Craigslist special, didn’t wear bike shorts (the first day), and the longest non-stop bike ride I’d ever been on before this event: I can only guess was maybe 15 miles. I didn’t train for the ride (some mentioned I “should have”) and I wasn’t sure if it was entirely doable or not, but I prepared myself mentally. I knew deep down I would “just do it”, whatever it would take.
While I was riding, there were two main reoccurring subjects that continually crept into my mind:
1) What do I need to do to not be hit by a car
2) a continuum of analogies comparing what it feels like pedaling my butt off to cultivating an idea into a business; I’ll share a couple of them now.
- The most obvious and overstated analogy is: it’s hard work. I don’t feel as though any expounding upon is needed.
- There will be times you’ll want to give up.
- It’d be a lot easier if the road was just flat (boring, but easy).
- The ups and downs of the hills are definitely more fun (in the case of biking the downs are the most enjoyable …how to apply that to business…).
- THIS is painful.
- It’s a lot easier if you have the right tools (advil, biofreeze, advil, bike shorts, food, water, & chamois butt’r – good stuff, look it up)
- You will chafe in places you didn’t know existed (My personal favorite, and especially true in a startup – You can’t know what you don’t know and I’ve found a lot of the learning I’ve done has come from specific regions from within a business I didn’t even know existed.)
- The sense of accomplishment of reaching a goal provides mental energy to continue moving on (always set little [attainable, measureable] goals for yourself. Every rest stop spaced approximately 10 miles apart was a goal on my ride. For the startup, it’s the “100th” like on Facebook that evolves to 200, 500, 1000, 10000… Or it could be the first $5k in funding. A good friend once told me “set your vision and end-goals in stone, and your plans [to get there] in sand”)
- You can’t do it alone (This World, runs on teams. It’s how Stuff, gets done. I couldn’t have done a 150 mile bike tour without the support of a great team of people able to provide the enriching nourishment of food, water and “go get-em’s”. One person may be able to formulate an initial idea, but it will take a team to execute and implement.)
What I found interesting is the similarity in challenges one encounters when attempting to tackle an ambitious endeavor. That which is worthwhile, is difficult to achieve.
Within the title of this short piece – I used: “striving to be unreasonable”. Why? Well, I feel there’s a misconception of what unreasonable is. It may be my own opinion, but I believe a majority of the general population may use the word “crazy” synonymously with unreasonable. For me: Crazy – is trying the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Unreasonable – is an obsession to change the status quo, I like to think of it as trying something new on everyone’s behalf.
Far too many people have it in their head as to “why it can’t be done”; I challenge you to shift your way of thinking to “how can I make it happen”. It starts with knowing you can do it, deep within the folds encapsulated by your skull. Once you fully believe it, make it happen – do whatever it takes to get from point A to point Z, and beyond. Be sure to utilize the tools you need when it starts to get painful. And for-crying-out-loud!: enjoy the ride; the feeling of accomplishment can be overwhelming if you do it right. Just make sure you look back over you shoulder every once in a while to see all ground you’ve covered AND, so you don’t get hit by a car…
Mechanical engineer, thinker, entrepreneur and dreamer; Brian Falther is the 24 year old founder and CEO of the Urban Tech Farm project based in Grand Rapids. In his free time, Brian is an avid outdoorsman and a blues fanatic – in which he plays his harmonicas and telecaster whenever possible.