There is something very lonely about the idea of being an entrepreneur. By definition, you are pushing out ahead of, or in a different direction than, everyone else. By definition, you see an opportunity that no one else does and set out to make it visible to the world. By definition, you’re a person with unique ideas that you strive to make realities. It is, as guru Seth Godin has written many times, a lot like being an artist.
That’s why entrepreneurs need other entrepreneurs. Not just in writing – though I’m grateful for everything from Inc. magazine to my friend Nick Hughes’ So Entrepreneurial blog – but in our daily lives.
I catch myself sometimes saying things like, “I feel so lucky to have the Impact Hub community,” and it’s true, but the fact is that I would never have embarked on this adventure without the Hub or the ecosystem that made it viable. I knew nothing about social ventures when I first came back to Seattle from Afghanistan. I thought a “startup” could only be a flashy new tech product that only an inventor could produce.
It wasn’t until I started to understand terms like “intrapreneur,” “innovation,” and “iteration” that I started to think of myself as someone who had been an entrepreneur all along – founding organizations, transforming abstract ideas into concrete projects, building programs from the ground up. Entrepreneurship isn’t a career path, it’s a way of life.
That, above all, is why we need each other. A fellow entrepreneur will recognize you as one of us even before you do. And when you start to go through the peaks and valleys of founder life – sharper and wilder than the Hindu Kush – your fellow founders will be there to encourage you. When you start to get frustrated with yourself for being in the valley, they’re not going to say “I told you so” like the friends and family who still fear for your financial safety, they’re going to say, “Keep going. There’s another peak ahead.”
So to the new founder friends I’ve met in the last few weeks, I want to say welcome. To those who originally introduced me to this space – Tina of Transcend Academy, Bilaal of LinkTank, Kyle of Piper – I want to say thank you for welcoming me. And to the communities built by Seattle’s Impact Hub and Seattle Tech Meetup, I say, thank you for your role in creating space for us. Many of us would not be here without you.
Wherever this journey takes me from here, I’m grateful to be part of this amazing group of people. I keep thinking of Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Let’s keep sharpening each other as long as we can – and use those tools to shape a better world together.