Enterprise Tuesday Keynote Insights: Janneke Niessen on the superpower of entrepreneurs

No, no, no: the superpower of entrepreneurs

The life of entrepreneurs sometimes seems just fantastic. In the media, you can read about the successes, clients that are brought in, foreign offices that are opened, trips that are made, new investments, IPOs, sales of the company, prizes that are won. It sometimes looks like a dream. With an emphasis on looks. What you see doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, what you see is the smallest part of the story. Behind the scenes, where more than 99.9% happens, you can see what it is really like.

The hard work, the responsibility towards your team and your investors, the things that go wrong, the highs, the lows, the setbacks, the problems, the small victories, the big victories, the sleepless nights, the parties. As an entrepreneur, you have to be good at many things to deal with everything and get everything done. You have to be a myriapod and stress-resistant, you have to have perseverance, be able to form a good team, think strategically, but also act on an operational level and so on. You need quite a few superpowers.

But the most important superpower of entrepreneurs is being able to take no. Every day, several times: no. Entrepreneurs are the best at dealing with those no’s. Because they know that there will be a yes again, because they know that it is part of the journey,  they believe in the goal they have. Sometimes those no’s motivate even more to show that it should have been a yes, because that no is almost never personal. Because, despite all those no’s, entrepreneurship is the best thing there is.

And yet: not every no feels the same. There are no’s bigger than others because they really have an impact on the future of your company. Some no’s are unfair, because the reason just doesn’t make sense. Because a no sometimes is personal or feels very personal. Sometimes it is just one no too much and you just need a very big yes! Sometimes you have times when every no feels like an unfair, big, unjust, personal no. That you prefer to lie under your blanket in your bed, crying. You just want to give up. You want to break something. You almost get desperate. And that is allowed.

Ultimately, the power to handle those no’s comes back. And then you see those no’s for what they actually are: an obstacle that you can find a solution for, one silly word from someone who just doesn’t get it, and always: a motivation to work even harder.

Janneke Niessen, Co-founder of VCVolt and CapitalT, shared key insights and expertise at Enterprise Tuesday on 12 May 2020.

This column originally appeared in Dutch.

Janneke Niessen, Entrepreneur & Investor

Janneke Niessen, Entrepreneur & Investor

Janneke is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, board member and mentor for startups and co-founder of VCVolt and CapitalT. In the past she has started and sold 2 international tech companies. She is co-initiator of InspiringFifty, an initiative that aims to increase diversity in tech by making female role models more visible. As part of the InspiringFifty initiative, Janneke has published The New Girl Code and Project Prep, a novel for young girls. The goal of the project is to encourage young girls, inspiring them to pursue a career in technology and invest in an educational foundation focusing on math and computer science. Janneke is member of supervisory board of UNICEF, boardmember of Codam, advisory board member of FutureNL, member of the investment committee of Innovation Quarter and the supervisory board of NPEX. Janneke was named 2014 EY Entrepreneur of the Year and Most Innovative Leader in 2016, and one the 10 most prominent angel investors in 2018, a few of many in a long list of honours for Janneke. Janneke did research with Eva de Mol on the investments in female entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. This has led to a lot of media, discussion and questions in parliament. Legislation is prepared now to take action and change the situation. The industry itself has agreed to a quota for their own teams and the teams they invest in. Fun fact: Janneke had her picture taken by Annie Leibovitz and has been appearing in a campaign for UBS that was shown in e.g. WSJ Magazine, The Economist, Wallpaper but also on billboards at London City Airport, NY JFK and the airport of Frankfurt.
Janneke Niessen, Entrepreneur & Investor

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