GUEST POST By Kathy Duguay
Halifax, Nova Scotia
It is debatable what makes the world go round. It has been said before that coffee that can lay claim to this astute honour, and frankly I can’t say I disagree. Coffee has surely contributed to my own personal world functioning in a coherent, sane, and relatively cobweb free manner. Some might venture to guess it’s mothers that make the world go round. I have stood in awe of my own warrior mom at more than one family Christmas extravaganza, conquering her tasks in an admirable flurry of perfection. Remembering even the seemingly unessential details from spit shining the floors, to providing gifts for the paperboy straight through to the garbage men. You know what I’m referring to, because you either are, have or know a warrior mom precisely like this. They are an example of multitasking at it’s absolute finest. It is no exaggeration that the distinct thought has crossed my mind on several occasions: “What would the world be without mothers?”
There might well be a sizable scroll of eligible contenders responsible for making the world go round, depending on who you ask, and on what day. While coffee and mothers do occupy a prominent position on my personal list, there is one more that I would be remiss to overlook: Entrepreneurs. Similar to the impressive fashion in which the mothers of the world inspire by their sheer ability to press on even in the most trying circumstances –entrepreneurs seem to be cut from the same strong-willed cloth. I find myself defaulting to this parallel time and time again. Perhaps it is the ability of both groups to persevere despite life’s setbacks, and simply do what needs to be done. Or possibly it is that in each role, a similar discrepancy exists between the “ideal” job description, and the actual duties that will ultimately be performed. Jobs they didn’t “quite” realize they were signing up for, the behind-the-scenes, the undesirable, the non-glamorous but the quintessential. However idealistic in the beginning, a mother soon encounters the rocks of realism. She finds herself thrust into the often thankless roles of housecleaner, chief diaper changer, chauffeur, and chef to name but a few. This is not by any means meant to discount the joys of motherhood. As any mother will tell you, despite it’s challenges, there is nothing in the world better than being a mom! Similarly, the early vision of entrepreneurship tends to involve the shiny lures of freedom and control. Which has been defined as the ability to “work where I want, when I want, how I want, and with whom I want”. Sound familiar? It certainly does to me, as I have uttered those very words myself along my own path. Entrepreneurs tend to be passionate individuals driven by certain commonalities; the ability to work freely and creatively, be their own boss, work their own schedule, determine their own income, and so on. Unfortunately, it is easy to become stuck in a state of perpetual overwhelm. They neglect to predict that on any given day the need can arise to morph into an accountant, social media strategist, website designer, blogger, marketer, bookkeeper… etc. The not so pleasant irony being that the very things you so desperately sought after (freedom, control) are nowhere in sight. I am the first to admit that the source of my own entrepreneurial disillusionment, naivety and struggle over the years could be directly attributed to the familiar adage: “too much to do, not enough hours in the day”. And now I say three words: “Amen to Outsourcing!” This is not to discount the pleasure that many entrepreneurs (myself included) derive from the often-tumultuous journey and process. Most will tell you that even with the frustration and all encompassing nature of the beast, that they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here is an example from my personal world that drives this point home. (Source unknown.)
Entrepreneurship can be daunting, overwhelming, and all encompassing at times. But don’t get me wrong, entrepreneurship is exhilarating. However, we do need help! It is important that entrepreneurs have the appropriate organizations and support systems to turn to for guidance, direction and encouragement. Why are these support systems so essential? Because when the question is asked: ”What would the world be like without entrepreneurs?” the answer is and always will be: not very good! Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our communities. Entrepreneurs are the driving force of change. Entrepreneurs are the vibrant innovators who cast a splash of colour into an otherwise grey world. Entrepreneurs are the passion-fueled individuals who, much like mothers, lead by example and inspire others by their sheer determination to persevere. Without entrepreneurs, the world would be a pretty bland place. Statistics reveal that on average, successful entrepreneurs have failed 3.8 times before they emerge victorious on the side of success. However, like anything else, success is a state of mind. Thomas Edison had a positive and humorous way of looking at it. After having failed in countless attempts to invent the incandescent light bulb, he stated: “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Suffice it to say, successful entrepreneurs are not necessarily the ones with the most extensive educational backgrounds, highest IQ’s, or the most impressive resumes. They are the ones with the most tenacity, perseverance, and optimism. They believe in themselves and their ideas when others do not. They trudge forth relentlessly, and they are awe-inspiring because of these things.
To the extent that entrepreneurs are vital to enriching the fabric of society, of equal importance are the resources available to support them. While failure is inevitable in business and imperative to growth, it would be nice to lower the failure rate just a touch. If we hope to increase the odds of success, organizations such as Entrepreneurs’ Forum (www.entrepreneursforum.com) are critical. Speaking as an entrepreneur who has been in the trenches plowing her way through obstacle after obstacle, I can honestly say that an organization such as Entrepreneurs Forum could likely have saved me a lot of sanity (not to mention grey hair.) They are a non-profit organization whose primary objective is helping innovative Atlantic Canadian entrepreneurs overcome their immediate business challenges, ultimately contributing to their success. They offer an opportunity for entrepreneurs to forge an ongoing relationship with them through participating in their signature Advisory sessions, which are at the heart of Entrepreneurs’ Forum. These sessions are held at no cost, yet have proven to offer invaluable insight to entrepreneurs who have found their businesses thriving as a direct result. I cannot say enough about the importance of organizations such as this one, and I only hope that emerging entrepreneurs have the foresight that I did not have, to partake in the programs they offer.
As Sarah Ban Breathnach so eloquently put it:
“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers, but above all the world needs dreamers who do.”
In other words, the world needs entrepreneurs, because they are the dreamer/doer’s of this world. But there will ALWAYS be room for coffee and moms!
By Kathy Duguay
Owner, Legacy Junction Studios