~ Iris Murdoch
What a phrase! It’s a phrase that unfortunately, the Promoter cannot take copyright nor ownership of! It was mentioned during conversation with another peer. It resonated between us, oscillating through the cosiness of Two Pups Coffee. It certainly affirmed the mutual agreement between us. It also provided inspiration to compose this article.
Like any other phrase worth its salt, it says so much, powerfully and concisely. The phrase, you see, encapsulates the lonely furrow that is the ‘Entrepreneurial Journey’ perfectly. This article is designed to inform folks thinking of endeavouring upon this modern-day rollercoaster ride and to also acknowledge the core tools and attributes required to make an honest effort at achieving a successful journey.
The entrepreneurial journey is the most exciting journey one can take in a capitalist society. Seriously, it is. It’s also the most terrifying. It has an addictive power all of its own, it isolates, it consumes the protagonist (no matter how much he/she resists). It will chew you up and then spit you out.
Still wanna get on this ride?
Great! Let’s begin your pep-talk! Buckle up, Soldier!
‘Coffee and shoe-leather’…
First and foremost: It’s all about YOU and your attitude – Mr. /Ms. Entrepreneur.
The ‘coffee’ is an anecdotal reference to the perceived caffeine boost you’ll receive in the morning with a good strong cup of Honest Joe. This Promoter tends to have at least two doses – one at home prior to leaving the house, and then a top-up (sic) at his favourite Dublin café (Ref 1), to fully launch the thrusters! (warp-speed, Captain!).
However, the ‘coffee’ reference also signifies YOUR FOCUS, YOUR READINESS and YOUR DRIVE. It’s your attitude, baby! This Promoter’s day doesn’t start when his eyes open, it actually starts the previous evening, when the priority of tasks for the ’morrow are determined. Each task must have a strategic importance to move the concept, business along the road to acquiring cash-flow: fuel. Before describing the three pillars upon which this entrepreneur operates, it must be acknowledged that just as caffeine is the perceived ‘energy’ for your focus / thought stimulation, cash-flow is the actual fuel for your business.
The 3 Pillars:
1. Attitude: You own this. No one else. Your attitude is your honesty of endeavour. It’s how you interact with your circumstances, your environment. It’s your ability to adapt to obstacles and set-backs (and there will be plenty of them). Your attitude must be resolute, positive, optimistic, realistic. It must be empathetic (listen!) and respectful to your customer. Your attitude will determine how much ‘you make happen’, how far towards success you will get.
2. Emotion: This is what you bring to the customer. It’s irrespective of selling a product or providing a service. At the core of entrepreneurship, what you’re doing is providing a degree of magic for the customer. The removal of a ‘pain-point’ provides the emotion of relief. The provision of a fun experience, provides the magic of joy, elation! A full and dedicated clean-up after a long-days painting, decorating, plumbing (sic) provides the emotion of satisfaction that the customer has no further tending to do, they can move on to ‘The Next Thing’. As written in a previous blog article (Ref 2): EMOTION IS EVERYTHING. You must bring the MAGIC!
3. Cash-flow: Cash-flow is your fuel. Cash-flow is YOUR REALITY. Without it, you may be a Ford Mustang tearing across Route 66, but if the ‘gas’ runs out, you stop. There is no grey area here. You make money or you stop. End of.
The ‘Shoe-leather’ element!
This particular metaphor refers to your ‘willingness’. In the physical sense. How much energy are you willing to put into this entrepreneurial journey of yours. It’s the energy, the entropy, the action, the doing. Remember: ‘if you never moved, you’d never make a sound’. (Ref 3) It also acknowledges the necessity, (and it a necessity, trust me!) for sacrifice. How much are you willing to sacrifice in order to ‘make it happen’.
The sacrifices of the entrepreneurial journey have been covered previously (Ref 4). They include: your launch capital, your ongoing spend, your time (free-time, time with family, hell – your every waking minute!) and your health. There are costs associated with the entrepreneurial journey. You must be balanced in your approach to them throughout this entire journey.
Your shoe-leather will keep you moving forward, literally! But it must be managed, call it a business health-check at regular intervals. Remember the following advice when considering your willingness to sacrifice: On this entrepreneurial journey, YOU NEVER LOSE – YOU EITHER WIN, OR YOU LEARN. As long as you keep the shoe-leather on your feet, you are a winner…
Ref 4: Living with Entrepreneurship