Why Your Ego Is the Biggest Obstacle You’ll Face As an Entrepreneur
Every entrepreneur has a moment in their business where they may realize that it may not be what they really want.
There are lots of different reasons why people start businesses. Among the motivations for starting something new is the desire to do your own thing and be your own boss because of an interest or a talent you want to spend your life enhancing.
It might not be the primary reason you decide to become an entrepreneur, but most entrepreneurs do find that they would rather work more hours for themselves, than a 40-hour work week for someone else.
When you think about that, you realize that, in a way, entrepreneurship can be kind of selfish. You want to do things the way you always imagined it should be way. You may want freedom to do things the way you want and dream of working on your own terms. You want to create the business you think should exist.
Don't get me wrong, there are many great intentions behind starting a business, but it's important to realize that we never fully control the future of the business, the customer does.
I understand this because I started my yoga business responding to these instincts. I became a yoga practitioner 12 years ago and it made a huge impact in my life. I was asked by an owner of a studio in South Florida to come on as a partner years ago, and I accepted.
As time went by, I realized I had many things to learn about the yoga business, we later transferred the ownership to someone else and I went on to become a yoga instructor and learn more about the industry.
Years later, I moved to Ohio. I decided to take another shot at owning a yoga studio armed with more knowledge about the business. I opened it in a different geography and client base.
I soon found running a yoga studio in Ohio is much different than Florida and had to make real-time changes in order to serve this community well. I could have kept pushing forward with what I thought would work, but instead, I needed to learn from my customers and make modifications that fit the geography I was in.
It doesn't matter that you might have started a company to do things a certain way. If you want the business to survive, you will realize that at the end of the day, you can't push against a vision that no one else believes in.
"We all think our ideas are golden. They're our ideas after all," my fellow Inc.com columnist Jory MacKaywrote in an excellent post about entrepreneurship on the Observer. "But being able to climb over our wall of ego and look at what we're making from an objective standpoint is a powerful tool."
It's the entrepreneur's defining moment. The events leading up to it will look different for every entrepreneur, but it's an early reality you'll have to face, and eventually embrace.
Here are two reasons why your business really isn't about you:
1. You're in business to solve a problem.
People are only going to pay for your product or services if you're solving some kind of problem for them, and in order to solve the problem, you have to understand it--really, really well.
It can't be what you think the problem is or what the problem looks like to you. It has to be all about the customer. This could be a problem of convenience, affordability, or something else. It doesn't have to be a bad problem, but at it's core, your business just can't survive unless you're helping people.
2. You're in business to serve others.
This is at the crux of the realization that your business isn't really about what you want. Your business is about serving others--your customers' needs and desires have to take priority. In that sense, it is kind of like having a boss because your strategy should not be governed not by your whims and preferences, but by how you can best serve your customers.
It can be tough to realize that some of the early instincts that pushed you into entrepreneurship are not really what it's about. But the quicker you adapt--and entrepreneurs need to be masterful about change--the sooner you'll be on your way to adapting a successful business mindset.