We already know that no journey worth taking is easy. We’ve seen it in movies, heard about success stories, and even written about it on our blog. And indeed, the journey of an entrepreneur is usually a difficult one— full of hurdles that can take the shape of funding, industry giants, motivation (or lack thereof), legalities, and the list could easily go on. The question “what is entrepreneurship?” can be described using many words, but easy certainly isn’t one of them.
Today, we are going to talk about a concept that tends to shake even the most confident of entrepreneurs, and that’s criticism.
Don’t get us wrong— criticism can be great! Constructive criticism helps us refine and fine tune our ideas, gives us a different perspective, and pushes us to reach beyond our limits.
But criticism can also take a form that is not-so-constructive (or well, not constructive at all). A form that is often a matter of opinion and not geared to help you improve. Instead, it’s more someone telling you that your idea is not very good (or complete rubbish), that it’s going to fail (or worse, bring dishonour on your family), or that they just don’t “get it.”
For a budding entrepreneur just thinking about how to start a business, this can definitely be a daunting situation.
After all, we come from a culture that simply doesn’t encourage innovative thinking. Since we were children, we were encouraged to be doctors, lawyers, and engineers. And while there’s definitely nothing wrong with those professions, I don’t think you could recall even one child in your kindergarten class standing up and saying “I want to be an entrepreneur when I grow up.”
In schools we are taught about the value of being a doctor or a lawyer, but never an entrepreneur. “What is entrepreneurship?” isn’t a question that comes up at any point of our childhood.
The system that defines us
Starting your own business is considered to be a rebellious move— you are breaking away from the system. You might be lucky enough to get the support you need from your family, but the rest of society? Well, trust us, it’s a constant stream of explaining to aunties and uncles why you gave up a prospective career to march to the beat of your own drum.
“Aren’t you scared?” they ask. “Don’t you just hate not knowing how much money you will make a month?” “I don’t even think your idea is that good. Didn’t so-and-so try something like this already? And fail?”
“Nope. Nope. And I think my idea is a good one,” you reply, while your heart does cartwheels and you rush off to the nearest bathroom to have a small anxiety attack.
Trust us when we say that this kind of self-doubt is pretty normal.
It’s something that we at Save Your Monkey are no stranger to. Since the birth of this idea, we have been criticised for trying to challenge a system that works “just fine,” and for not being “traditional” enough.
“What do you’ll have to do with monkeys?” we get asked. Well, about as much as Hootsuite has to do with owls, and Roar.lk has to do with lions, we mutter to ourselves while wondering why creativity is viewed with such cynicism.
But there really is no point getting worked up about it. As long as people have innovated, there have been people standing by to criticise. Don’t believe us?
“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” Western Union internal memo dated 1876.
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Ken Olsen (President, Chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp) in 1977.
“I do not believe the introduction of motor-cars will ever affect the riding of horses” Mr. Scott-Montague, MP, in the United Kingdom in 1903.
Imagine a world with no telephones, computers or cars. All of these inventions that define our lives today were once rejected and ridiculed.
So, I guess the point we are trying to make here, is that even some of the best innovators have been faced with criticism and disbelief. But the best of them didn’t give up. If you believe in your idea or your goal, every hurdle will be just that— something that you leap over on your way to the finish line.
“What is entrepreneurship?” you ask again. It’s leaping with no fear and persevering with no compromise. It’s realising that not everyone will “get” you, and that’s okay. It’s a journey that you choose to take, all the while knowing that criticism is bound to come your way, and deciding that you are going to do it anyway.