Character & Soul, Entrepreneurship, Self-Improvement

The One Important Lesson Every Entrepreneur Must Embrace – Deborah Tan

It is easy to feel lousy about yourself when you are caught up in the midst of running your business and trying to establish your brand. Deborah Tan confides how she too suffers from days when she feels exceptionally unexceptional.

“I feel very good about myself every time I tell people that I own a content agency,” said Denise. “Plus, I’m earning more now than I did holding down a full-time job and that is very empowering!”

I looked at Denise and I couldn’t help but smile. In front of me was a person who has wholeheartedly embraced her status as a founder of a business. But me? As much as I would love to shout it out loud and proud that I’m my own boss EVERY DAY, I have to admit that I still go through periods of low self-esteem – especially when I attend events and a voice in my head goes, “You’re now a nobody.” I know I’m being a complete idiot but …

This episode of confidence crisis came about after a particularly “lonely” event last week. There were 2 tables at the event and when I arrived, those from “big media” (my personal catch-all term for titles under the huge companies) had grouped together at one table. The other table was pretty empty and, not wanting to “intrude”, I sat at the second table on my own. For 2 hours, I felt truly alone and unspectacular.

“Why didn’t you just go sit with the media people?” Denise asked when I related the incident to her. “It’s not as if you didn’t know them!”

“I don’t know …” I mumbled. “A part of me just felt like I didn’t really belong there, the magazine world, anymore. I just don’t want to look like I’m intruding …”

“Aiyah! I think you are just overthinking things! No one will say that about you lah!” declared Miss Confidence. “AND … honestly, you are not a nobody just because you are no longer an editor. If you asked me to go back to a magazine full-time, I will really have to think twice. Now, I’m very happy waking up and going to work every morning. We own a business!”

Have I Lost Everything And Become Nothing?
And Denise has a point. While not every business can be an overnight phenomenon like Facebook or Uber, we entrepreneurs need to celebrate that we have done something brave with our lives. This is something many of us – especially myself – don’t do enough of. We need to remember that we took a chance, and we took a leap into a world where the outcome could swing both ways – we could be successful or we could fail disastrously. Giving up a regular paycheque is not something everyone has the guts to do.

It’s easy to get lost in self-doubt when you are struggling to turn a profit or trying to get your brand out there. For me, I’ll be lying if I said I took to entrepreneurship like a fish to water. When I made the decision to give up my car so I won’t have to deal with the stress of meeting the monthly repayments, I honestly thought I was damn “loser” for not being to keep my ride. Losing the so-called symbols of success – the fancy job title, the fat paycheque, the car – was, in a way, confidence crushing because they were what I saw as achievements that I had “unlocked” on my climb up the publishing ladder. By losing them, does it mean I have become nothing?

No. Here’s why:

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Mmmm … mmm …. mmm …

The Chest-Thumping Belief Entrepreneurs Need To Have
I have not become nothing because …

1. No matter the scale of my business, I have gone from a salaried worker to becoming a business owner. I have, in a way, progressed.

2. It doesn’t matter how much profit I’ve made, as long as I’m making money, my business idea is viable.

3. I’m not at the mercy of bureaucratic layers and HR processes, I call the shots and therefore I’m no longer a “corporate slave”.

These are just 3 of the many reasons why we entrepreneurs should go about our everyday lives with our heads held high. There is no need to feel we are of a “lower class” than top-level executives of big companies because we are at the top of our own business. While we may not be able to flaunt a large paycheque, we can certainly flaunt the size of our “balls”.

We entrepreneurs do what we do because we have no respect for the status quo and we get a kick out of doing things our own way. We hate uniformity and mindless conformity, we live to be different, and to stand out from the flock.

And, it is this “I’m Not Your Average Salary Worker” mentality we possessed that we need remind ourselves of every day. No matter how small someone may make us feel because we are no longer a part of the corporate rat race, we have to – like Matthew Mcconaughey’s character in The Wolf Of Wall Street – thump ourselves on the chest and proudly remind ourselves that we are the shizzy and that, as entrepreneurs, we are on our way to change the game, change the world.

We are the change the world needs.

Entrepreneurs need to embrace the fact that they ARE awesome.

Entrepreneurs need to embrace the fact that they ARE awesome.


About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She thanks for lucky stars that her co-founders are balls of positive energy that she can tap into every time feelings of inadequacy threatens to rock her confidence. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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