Entrepreneurship saved my life – and I don’t say that to be funny or make a joke. For me, it’s the truth.
I had a pretty tough life. I grew up in poverty – in a family that was completely dependent upon welfare and state assistance.
From a very young age I always seemed to know that owning my own business would be my only way out. As a kid, I really couldn’t tell you why I knew that – but as an adult it’s become crystal clear.
See, entrepreneurship is not about money. It’s not about fancy cars or expensive dinners. Entrepreneurship is about self-reliance.
As a young kid I sensed this, but I also felt the weight of the deck that was stacked against me. Children are not supposed to worry about these things – lord knows I would never want my children to – but I did, everyday. And I knew that if I was going to have a different outcome than the other kids I stood with in the free lunch line, I was going to have to do something they may never dream of.
I was going to have to ignore the world that was created for me and create a new world for myself. I was going to have to be completely self-reliant. And because I realized that, I moved out of a broken home when I was 15-years-old and began what has now been an over a two decades long adventure in entrepreneurship.
The most important lesson I have learned during this adventure is that the market does not care. The market does not care if I am poor. The market does not care if I am rich. The market does not care if I went to Harvard or if I dropped out of community college. The market doesn’t care if I am black or white, young or old.
The only thing the market cares about is if I am able to solve real problems. And so long as I am able to do that, the market will reward me – and those rewards will allow me to create a world around me that is completely of my own making.
Nobody can take that world away from me. There is no longer any single person who has the power to steal what entrepreneurship has given me – my freedom.
Entrepreneurship is scary to the doubters. It is scary to your co-workers, to your friends, and to your bosses because it takes their power away. You become someone who will never need these people again. The doubters don’t want that. These people don’t want to live in a world full of self-reliance. They don’t want to hear about your success. They don’t want to find out that their 40-year careers are going to equate to a total loss of their freedom. They don’t want to live in a world where self-reliance is the norm. They want to be dependent. They want things easy. They want to be told what to do. So when you succeed, you hold a mirror up to them. And the doubters don’t want to see what’s in that mirror. They don’t want to see the crumbling mess they have become. They don’t want to stare into eyes that no longer have hope. They don’t want to see the person you have refused to become.
Be at peace, but share the good news. Let them see the person who is holding the mirror. Put it down and let them see you as the person you have become. Let them see somebody who has not only saved their own life through entrepreneurship, but someone brave enough to be an example to them. Be a lighthouse to your critics. Remain a lifeboat to your friends. Treat them with love. Encourage them towards self-reliance. Together we can shepherd them to freedom. We may even save a life.