Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Strong Horse That Pulls the Cart

Winston Churchill said it best about entrepreneurship:

“Some regard private enterprise as if it were a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look upon it as a cow that they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is — the strong horse that pulls the whole cart.”

It is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit when you put all your eggs in one basket and move on with nothing more than just your belief in your eggs and yourself: high hopes and confidence that the market will buy your eggs because your eggs are better, you are better, and you will give greater value for your sale. And knowing that if you drop your basket, you have nothing.

If even a few of your eggs break, you have less of a chance to feed your family that night. If there are many more egg sellers, you will need to think harder on how to be better than the competition. If your hen dies, you will have no income. If your hen does not lay eggs that night or it falls sick, you will need to find another hen soon because you have a dwindling egg supply, though you may not have enough sale from previous eggs to buy a new hen. This is a microcosm of what an entrepreneur goes through every day.

Most of the time there are more reasons to fail than to succeed. But an entrepreneur cannot make excuses. They have to be the solution provider. Excuses cannot pay salaries or feed your family.

Entrepreneurs walk through a hailstorm of problems, challenges, heartbreaks, demands and emotional angst from employees and clients every single day, and, unlike Captain America, they don’t have a shield to deflect the ‘arrows’ to someplace else or bounce them back to someone else to solve. They absorb every single problem and solve it, sort it out and if they cannot, find an ingenious way around it.

An entrepreneur could be solo, have two or even 200,000 employees, but the qualities of fierce independence, problem solving, ownership, determination, prudent risk taking, eternal optimism and courage under fire are hardly different. It is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

But I was, as a woman, slightly faint-hearted. I was raised to use fear as a default to protect myself from putting myself out there to be ‘attacked.’ The psychological make-up of a woman is to be cautious, be averse to risk-taking, and to think smaller because she is always meant to be second to The Man.

And so, she always second-guesses herself, thinks she is never good enough, and is not as financially savvy or as much of a risk taker as a man is. Though these are just social conditionings, the psychological roots go deep down and is probably the reason why women often don’t succeed as well in business or rise to the highest levels of business as men do. The fear limits them. Probably it is different today, but two generations ago, we were a lot more conservative than we are now.

But fear can be overcome too. And conditioning can be unconditioned. It just needs to be worked on. So, moving out from running a business with a partner to running it on my own, was actually the best thing that could ever happen to me. It forced me out of my comfort zone, and made me face my fears and understand the total complexities of financials and structuring and market demand.

It made me take stock of the potential we had and reinvent what we were to be bigger, better and more global. It made me more focused, nurture a stronger team and plan 10 years ahead. It is in the worst of times that we forge the best of us, and forge plans for the best years ahead.

So, conflict is not necessarily a bad thing. Conflicts are like the primordial soup where everything seems to be in a state of chaos, but you use the randomness of the chaos — the unlimited opportunities the chaos gives you as an aqueous solution of organic compounds — to form a brand new identity, a whole new animal and rise from the primordial soup of life as a wholly evolved life form that keeps walking until it reaches the apex of the food chain.

When entrepreneurs go through hell, they keep going. For them, success is not final, failure is not fatal – it is the courage to continue that counts. Can you imagine a nation that consist primarily of such individuals? What a powerful nation it will be! A force to be reckoned with.

A nation cannot evolve, innovate and move forward without private enterprise. Freedom for wealth generators to thrive, supported by non-wealth generators like bank and governments is the cornerstone for an accelerated economic uprising of a country.

We need a strong horse to pull the cart.

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