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.