I have been recently asked how did I become an entrepreneur and what does it mean to become one.
There are many stories out there and probably many of them are similar but still I think it’s worth to tell mine hoping I could help future entrepreneurs understanding what it has meant for me.
It was the week between Christmas and New year’s eve and in the previous months me and few other colleagues had been discussing and planning the possibility of forming a company. We all were fired already or were being fired from our company back then, so we were pushed to the cliff and had to decide what to do with our lives.
Christmas was past already and the kids were playing with their new toys. I was nervous but trying to relax, half of my brain thinking at what to cook for new year’s and the other half thinking at this possibility. I was waiting for the phone call.
I remember quite vividly the logical process in my brain and on the other hand the emotional state I was in. I was a mess and it was showing.
At that time I never started a business in my life and I didn’t come from a family of entrepreneurs. I really didn’t know anything about companies and entrepreneurship in general. It was a scary thought to actually invest money, money that it took me years to save, into a venture that maybe in 2 weeks or 2 months might have failed. The truth is I never even considered becoming an entrepreneur before nor I probably wanted to.
I was battling between the comforting idea of finding a new job in another company and doing my 8–9 hours of work a day and the disconcerting perspective of being responsible for a company and other people’s jobs and money.
I could have argued both ways that it was better for me to do one thing or the other and at the end of the day I was on the brink of a nervous meltdown since I didn’t know what to decide. Then I got the phone call: “We are doing it. Are you in?”
And I didn’t sleep for 2 days (and maybe more). I called all my relatives and spent countless hours discussing with my wife. The rest is now history, I decided to take the leap and fight my fears.
But that moment is something that was one of the most intense moments I spent with myself and my family. Yes, because I was putting at stake not only my person but the whole family. And it’s already difficult to be a father and a husband but deciding to be a father, a husband and an entrepreneur seemed really a insormountable challenge.
The moment I decided to take the leap felt like jumping off a cliff
The moment I decided to take the leap, to pass from being an employee to being an entrepreneur felt really like jumping off a cliff, without wings and without knowing how to build them, without a safety net nor first-aid kit. It was a scary moment that lasted for a very long time and that in hindisight seems so natural and simple, almost inevitable.
The most amazing thing is that despite all the sleepless nights, the tears and the sweat and despite not yet knowing how all of this will end up I believe it was the best educative experience of my life.
Because that is what it is. None of us knows everything and life always throws some curved balls at you. But being an entrepreneur, if you manage to survive through the journey, makes you a more resilient person and opens your mind in ways you could never have imagined. It teaches you like no book can teach and no mentor can explain. Because living through the ups and downs cannot be substituted nor taught nor explained.
Becoming an entrepreneur means facing your worst fears, accepting them and trying to do something creative about those. Means being responsible for other people and feeling all their pains all together. And it also means feeling their joy and the thrill of doing something that means something to the world. And maybe realizing that you are not totally worthless.
It’s really hard to think of going back to my previous self, once you take the leap your life and behaviors are changed so much that it’s going to be unthinkable that you’d ever work in another company (though, of course, “never say never”). While growing into your new shoes you see problems and you don’t even think for a moment “that is not my responsibility” you just jump and fix it.
Not everyone is made to be an entrepreneur and I have seen plenty of people that have cracked under the immense weight of the responsibilities involved in being that guy. And you should really think carefully if right now you are thinking “Should I start my own company?”. The truth is: if you don’t try, you will never know what kind of person you are. But if you do try remember you are testing on yourself, you are your own guinea pig.
If you manage the transformation you will be richer
The cool part is that if you manage the transformation you will be richer and I don’t mean richer in terms of money but richer in terms of your own baggage, your experience, your stories, the people you know, the things you can do and how you approach life in general. Your skin will be thicker and you hair more gray, you will laugh and enjoy every single moment more and you will curse the moment you started this at times. Maybe you will even have less money but that’s not the point. The point is that you will be on a launchpad that will catapult you into the next phase of your life.
And maybe this might be the best thing you do for yourself in your life. But be prepared for the rollercoaster.
di Stefano Mosconi
Ceo di Jolla @JollaHQ