Our Modern Lifestyle Makes Entrepreneurship Harder

July 07, 2019

“The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom.” - James Clear

I was looking back recently at my Trello board of projects and ideas, sitting at my favorite morning cafe. I had my wallet on the table next to me. It’s a Thread & Leather wallet I got back in 2014 after signing up for the original Kickstarter project. On a whim, I decided to poke at the site and see if Thread & Leather was still around. They are, quietly doing the same thing and fulfilling some number of wallet orders. Their original Kickstarter blew up on them and it took something like 4 years to fulfill all of the original orders.

They had a good project and it blew up on them. And now, almost six years later, they’re still doing the same thing.

What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? Most people have a romantic view of the process, usually around an idea. How often have you heard someone say “I have this great idea for a business..”. And yet, somehow that great idea never seems to make it past the I-really-want-to-tell-someone-this-and-be-validated-in-my-brilliance phase. It just sits very comfortably in it’s brain container, like a content parasite.

All my own side projects and ideas do the same thing. They gnaw away occasionally at some brain matter, but otherwise seem to stay up there for the most part. The thing is, they’re safer that way. Our own brains are a perfect habitat for ideas, safely tucked away from the world. Let an idea out and try to build it up a bit, and it will get brutally thrashed by the world and all the other brains that, it turns out, aren’t particularly interested in that idea.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t about having good ideas. Everyone has some good ideas occasionally. Being an entrepreneur is about focusing on one idea and trying to execute. It’s about crafting a reality from a little parasitic worm in your brain that says “the world could be better in this way.”

My wife has started her own business and I’m so proud of her. It’s been a slow ramp-up - there’s 3 kids and a life to balance - but she’s been sticking with the idea and figuring out how to make it keep going. The hardest thing about it has been maintaining focus.

Our modern lifestyle makes entrepreneurship harder. We can consume so much information and media so quickly. Our normal modus operandi is to flit back and forth between all sorts of ideas and interests all the time. When we’re tired of one idea, we move on to the next. This breeds a strong ability to dream up ideas, but a poor ability to execute. And being an entrepreneur is all about the execution. In this way, entrepreneurship is much like writing.

One of these days, I really will pick one of my side project ideas and try to make it work. It’ll be dangerous to the idea-parasites that live in my brain but it will be better for me.

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