Op-Ed: The entrepreneur’s path
As entrepreneurs, we often believe no one else can build a company like we can. It takes time and plenty of mistakes to realize that as a founder, your mission is not being indispensable, it is to successfully create operational excellence, redundancy, and business continuity. Ultimately, we must aim to create a company that can thrive without our guiding hand.
On my path as co-founder and CEO of Abartys Health, I have identified seven pivotal moments that are crucial for entrepreneurs to understand and face when creating a new company.
- The Leap of Faith. The day when you finally understand the crazy amount of personal sacrifice that must be made, the seemingly impossible odds, the challenging industry conditions, the moment of your career, the difficulty of doing business and the fairly high risk of failure, and yet you still decide to take a leap of faith and march forward with your idea.
- Preparing the market for a revolutionary idea. The day you to realize that to achieve your plans for market domination you have to prepare the market first, because at that specific time the industry is not ready to receive your solution. If you’re not strong minded enough, if you don’t know how to take feedback and all the negative stuff and transform it to a positive, then entrepreneurship is not for you. You really need to have thick skin, as it is the only way to survive the entrepreneurial journey to make your new venture possible. This is the moment when you question yourself; will this be worth it? Am I going to achieve it? Is this what I really want? The answer is YES, if you are willing to do everything that needs to be done to achieve your objective. You must be willing to make big changes and realize when you need help from experts, especially if you are not one yourself. Find them and bring them on board!
- Raising the big money. Without money it is not possible to create a successful venture. Finding investors and making them believers in your project is essential. When you complete that first capital round, it is wonderful experience! That is the most exciting day of your venture, because not only you achieved your first investment, but you also succeeded in convincing other people to believe that your new venture is a valuable investment which will produce a significant return.
- The loneliest job. This is the moment where, for the first time as an entrepreneur, you have to face the concept of personal resilience. No matter the circumstances, if you really want to achieve this dream, you will prove to yourself and the rest of the world how strong you are and how much you believe in your project. After Hurricane María struck, it destroyed everything in its path, except my entrepreneurial dreams. When facing catastrophic events, you’re not the priority of your prospects. You may lose partners or even mentors as you fight to survive. My advice is to constantly feed yourself with self-motivation; transform negatives into positives. This is when you realize that you have the loneliest job ever, and you must stay strong if you really want this.
- Making believers. The moment when you consider all the challenges of making your dream real: market expansion strategies, product positioning, hiring, and fundraising. You wonder, how will you accomplish these tasks? How do I bring about the desired industry change? How do I transform doubters and naysayers into believers? How long will it take? I realized that as humans, we all want something; we all need something. We all seek recognition. My advice is to recruit others, taking into consideration their motivations and creating alliances.
- Finding strategic partners. There comes a point when your product is finally commercialized and growing the business is just a matter of territorial expansion. In my experience, it is useful to have a recognition process and/or a reality check and consider whether your competitor is just that or a potential strategic partner. That kind of mindset can change everything, particularly when those competitors/potential partners have truly special capabilities or resources.
- Passing the torch. When you realize that you have already taken your company to where it was due, and that it is time to let in a new generation of leaders take it to the next level. Facing this decision is a moment every founder is afraid of yet should be preparing for from the start. Even though the words “It is time” may break your soul, you should realize that your passion is now not only yours, and that what was in essence your company’s foundation and brilliant idea, has become something real. Now, it is time to do it again, but differently.
To all who were a part of this journey, a big thank you.