by definition, the default state of a startup is failure. when a new business is born, it starts from scratch, and is based on utopia, a new hope, and tons of optimism. but the reality is that, 95% of all startups close down within 4 years.
more than success, it is failure which accompanies an entrepreneur, and even if the intentions are right, the objectives are clear, and the determination as hard as rock.
as per a research by harvard business school, 75% of startups never receive VC funding. but, is that a failure?
in 2002, gene kan, who was a 26-year-old programmer and founder of infrasearch.com, wrote on this resume, which was published at UC-berkeley: “summary: sad example of a human being, specializing in failure.”
due to consistent failures, over expectations and the pressure to deliver, it is believed, that majority of entrepreneurs face unhappiness. and, the most interesting part is that, this happiness has nothing to do with financial results, as most of the entrepreneurs are earning more than salaried employees, anywhere in the world.
then, what is the problem here? why are more and more entrepreneurs unhappy, unsatisfied? maybe it has something to do with behavior.
here are 5 radical behavioral changes, which can induce a new level of happiness in entrepreneurs, and make them more positive towards their business and life:
don’t calibrate your happiness with others
in 7 out 10 cases, success stories of others give birth to entrepreneurship. for instance, those in information technology and internet space will always look towards steve jobs or bill gates or larry page to get that kick, that inspiration for their own ambitions. and here lies the fault – you are basically comparing your life, and calibrating your success with others.
you want to replicate their success, and in this way, you are sabotaging your own.
recently, ace cricketer virendra sehwag, who is an accomplished sportsperson, admitted that when he started playing cricket, he wanted to become like sachin tendulkar. but very soon, he realized that he can’t.
and once this realization seeped in, he started playing his own game, and then, everything changed. he not only scored the fastest 300, fastest 250 ever by an indian, but is also the only player to score 300 twice. in 2008, he was the only indian player to have honored as the wisden leading cricketer in the world.
when he started playing his own game, on some levels, he even surpassed sachin, the god. and this is the mantra for happiness. when you are doing what you can do best, you become happy. and success and failure, which are entirely subjective terms, holds no importance.
forward thinking is good, but happiness lies in present
entrepreneurship requires thinking ahead of everyone. entrepreneurship needs that ‘vision’, that ‘view’ of the future. great entrepreneurs are, no doubt, forward thinking, and visionaries. but, they also need to pay a steep price for the same.
happiness, as per scientists, lies in the present.
you have to seize the moment, or carpe diem, because the true joy, the actual happiness is in rejoicing the moment, and fully enjoying it. unless you are fully living the present, how can you plan the future?
future is unpredictable, future is unknown. you can only make plans, do your best, and then pray for the best. but the present in here, right now, staring into your eyes. if you are living the present, and appreciating its beauty, then no matter what is the future lies, you will be always happy and satisfied.
if you respect the present, then the future will have to respect you. terms like success or failure won’t matter after that.
it’s ok to fail, it’s ok to achieve less
due to the new age ‘startup magazines’ and ‘business publications’, the whole definition of satisfaction and success has changed. if you scroll through the content of these publications, then you will find news of VC fundings as the most happening news. reporters are going gaga over angel funding, series a funding, and multi million dollars exits, as if this is what entrepreneurship is all about.
this is, unfortunately, creating a very negative bias and wrong definition of success.
success isn’t getting funded, but success is solving a difficult problem, and convincing the customers to pay for it. success isn’t making a grand exit and pocketing millions of dollars, but to realize one’s true potential, and being satisfied that you have given you best to the society, to the country.
when you realize that it’s ok to fail, it’s ok to achieve less, and then you find the true gems of happiness. because as ancient sages have said, happiness is a state of mind, and that state can only be achieved when you accept the truth of your own self.
connect the dots by looking back, by being grateful for what you have
sarah ban breathnach, the famous author, has said that the feeling of abundance and lack of abundance, both lies in the same parallel realities. it is up to us, which form of reality we want to accept.
this is such a powerful concept, that it can change everything of your life, right at this moment. the simplest way to be happy is by connecting the dots of your life, and by being grateful for what you have.
if you are mourning the fact that you cannot buy that expensive mercedes s class today, do remember the days when you used to board a bus to reach your office. if you are troubled by the fact that your business is not generating 30% annual growth, then remember how you started this business, how you took loans, opposed your family and risked everything.
and, at the end of the day, don’t forget to say thanks for whatever you have. as mentioned in the book ‘secret’, the universe gives you back what you ask for. if you say thanks more often, the universe will give you more chance to say thanks. a pretty basic give and take rule.
happiness, as observed by experts, lies within. all you need to do is, ask for it.
ask three questions
and lastly, whenever you are super unhappy, restless and disturbed over anything, just ask these three questions:
- “what have i received from __?”
- “what have i given to __?”
- “what troubles and difficulty have i caused?”
these three questions will allow you and empower you to have a different perspective of this world, of your own life, and life of those who are connected with you. as per some psychologists, these three questions can calm your mind, and give you more power to face the realities and expectations of this life.
mahatma gandhi had said, “happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”. being an entrepreneur, we know, that it is tough to remain happy, for ever.
but as abraham lincoln has said, “folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
and being a human being and entrepreneur, it is your responsibility to be happy. because a happy entrepreneur can achieve much, much more than an unhappy entrepreneur.