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It's OK to be great: Why entrepreneurs deserve to stand out

It is not easy to be an entrepreneur, but being one can be rewarding and fulfilling at the same time. Here are reasons entrepreneurs must be admired and commended.
By Amy Cosper |
It's OK to be great: Why entrepreneurs deserve to stand out

I have to be honest: Being an entrepreneur isn’t that glamorous or even fun on some days. You have a hard job. But I promise you, no matter what direction your company goes, it will be meaningful, and you will matter. Because what you do, even in failure, matters.

Why? Because you have chosen the path less taken, the path less understood, and the path most pockmarked with pain. Much of the time, that path is a complete slog and your job, on occasion, is simply to slog it out.

It’s not easy being an entrepreneur. It’s lonely and scary. We, in the press, paint a picture of the aspiration and glories you bring to the world, the jobs you create, the ideas you spread, and the impact you have on the future. And it’s misleading, because the reality is, you are working hard to make something, to fight for something, and simply to see your vision to the next stage. And it doesn’t always work. But that’s OK.

Being tough

It’s strong medicine. The reality of what you are doing is harsh. It’s not always rainbows and bunny rabbits. In fact, it rarely is. Being an entrepreneur is more than being the boss. You are the leader—not only the leader of your destiny, but a leader to the people who believe in you: employees, investors, customers, and evangelists.

This makes you vulnerable. You are the one who will herald the next generation of entrepreneurs. And you are the one who will keep the lights on. Being vulnerable and keeping that sense of honesty is what makes you an entrepreneur. It separates you from the corporate world and makes you fallible—and also, heroic.

Fear, although you may feel it, is not an option. And when you worry, well, that is a form of fear, so stop doing it.

trophy_83115_640.jpgStanding out

In the Nordic countries there is a deeply held principle about standing out from the crowd. It’s called the Law of Jante, and it essentially states that if you call too much attention to yourself, you will be denounced, and you must retreat. Everyone is equal. So stop being so excellent.

This idea flies in the face of reason and the very philosophy of entrepreneurship. And even in the countries that hold this idea true, things are changing. Entrepreneurship is being embraced and encouraged. It’s OK to be an entrepreneur and it’s OK to look to Silicon Valley, where excellence is heralded.

In Jason Ankeny’s fascinating look at the psychology of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley we learn about the mindset of excellence and also of failure.

These ideas are not only inspiring, they bring with them economic and cultural impact. But you already know that, even on the days when you’re slogging it out.


From the February 2015 issue of Entrepreneur (US).

Copyright © 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editor.

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