As an economic development professional, I know that sometimes my work can be a full contact sport. Hard decisions around a company’s future or an individual’s livelihood, or a community’s investments are on the docket and they can’t be postponed or tabled for later. It often involves real dollars and real human consequences. Entrepreneurship is very much the same. It is not for the faint of heart. The stakes can be high and there can certainly be real human consequences. My experience is that dreams die hard.
When working with clients that need to learn the difference between a hobby or a dream and the reality of the work entailed in launching a successful business I fall back on another sports-inspired analogy connected to basketball.
If you have ever played organized basketball in a gymnasium with coaches, referees, uniforms, a timekeeper, etc. you probably have an appreciation for the sport. There is strategy, physical effort, preparation, sometimes fans in the bleachers and an entire set of rules of the game. This setting is what many hopeful entrepreneurs believe going into business is all about. Unfortunately, they are mistaken.
Launching a successful business is much more akin to playing basketball on a playground. The basket and ball are where the parallels stop. There is no referee, no coach, no uniforms, no team practice, no climate-controlled setting, etc. I describe it as much more “knees and elbows” or “rough and tumble.” There are of course some general expectations around how to play the game but for anyone that has ever made the transition from the gym to the playground you know it’s a totally different game. It’s full contact.
The playground also allows for immediate results – if you win, you can keep playing; if not, you can sit down or leave. Consequently, there is an urgency. Emotions can be high. Nobody wants to give up the court and that mindset is what you need to become a successful entrepreneur. Certainly skills are required, but the will to battle and hustle and overcome are usually what differentiate those that historically keep playing and those that might have to come back later.
So, as you are preparing to call “next” on the neighborhood playground touch base with us here in Middlebury, Vermont. We’ve assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs such that they are as ready as possible for that first series of games or to “lace them up” again and get back out there a second or third time. We can do the same for you.