We live in an era where the title "entrepreneur" is paraded around like a badge of honor.
What warrants the title of "entrepreneur" though, no one is sure. Is an entrepreneur someone with a Squarespace website and a cool logo? Is an entrepreneur someone who is actually generating revenue? What about the entrepreneurs behind massively successful tech companies that run on investment dollars but aren't generating revenue? The word "entrepreneur" is very similar to the word "creative." Ask ten different people for their definition and you'll get ten different answers.
I am a believer that people enjoy wearing the title of "entrepreneur" not for its true meaning, but for all the qualities they feel it represents. To call yourself an entrepreneur is the mental equivalent of wearing a tight V-neck t-shirt to show off your biceps. Being an entrepreneur implies that you're creative and driven, independent and financially intelligent (and maybe even e-famous on social media).
But ask any true entrepreneur, anyone running a company with employees and a stable cash flow, and you'll rarely hear them boasting about how creative and driven and independent they are. They don't have time. They're running a company, and too busy making sure their business continues to operate effectively.
Before I started my first company, I remember watching my mentor go through the ups and downs of serial entrepreneurship. On the days when life was good, he would radiate unflinching confidence. On the days when the waters weren't going his way, he would get stressed and have to step away to think hard about how to solve for that day's problems. With both extremes, I never understood what he was feeling--until I stepped into entrepreneurship myself.
These are 7 emotions I have since learned that all entrepreneurs feel very intensely:
I use the word Love here with a slightly different meaning. When you are knee-deep in your business endeavor and everything is clicking, you step into a state of flow resembling that of Love. It's like you're on a date with destiny and there's not a cloud in the sky. Nothing can get in your way, and thoughts of doubt are so far from your mind that you wonder how you ever struggled to believe in yourself or your idea to begin with.
If you ever cross paths with an entrepreneur who is riding big waves that day and in a pure state of flow, you'll feel it.
Twin sister to Love is the feeling of Surprise, and it's an exciting emotion all entrepreneurs search for as they venture into the unknown.
Entrepreneurship is, at the end of the day, a quest with no blueprint. It's your admitting that you don't know the answer, but confident enough to believe you will figure it out. Surprise, then, occurs all throughout the journey as you discover new answers, new solutions, make new friends and stumble upon new opportnities.
Surprise also, though, can be dark--and many entrepreneurs find themselves equally surprised when faced with difficult and threatening obstacles.
3. Loyalty (and Betrayal)
Because of the nature of entrepreneurship, you become very close with the people you work with and whom aid you on your quest. However, as with everything else in life, for every friend is an enemy, and for every strong bond of loyalty is an unfortunate circumstance of betrayal.
Part of what makes longstanding entrepreneurs so thick-skinned is the fact that they've endured their fair share of relationships gone sour, and business partners turned deceitful. These experiences are tough, but they also help mold young entrepreneurs into fearless business leaders in the long run.
The real name of the game for entrepreneurship is the ability to see ahead of the curve, and make decisions accordingly.
If you notice, every entrepreneur lives in a constant state of anticipation. There is no such thing as being satisfied or content with where things are--because the moment you feel at ease, you've begun to lose ground.
It's worth acknowledging though that anticipation honed is a powerful skill, while anticipation left to its own devices leads to stress and clouded judgment.
An entrepreneur that insists they're never stressed is either lying or not an entrepreneur with real responsibilities.
While obviously you want to keep your stress to a minimum, beneath the surface is always a slight vibration--call it anticipation still in check. Stress is part of the gig, and every entrepreneur with their own business and team will attest to the weight of their responsibilities.
The important part is to acknowledge when you feel stressed, and not suppress it. Suppressing it only postpones the problem. The best thing you can do is try to solve for what's causing the stress, quickly and efficiently.
I know people will say that there are ugly entrepreneurs out there who only care about making money--and will step on anyone in their way. But truthfully, that's not what I see.
Every single entrepreneur I have met--from founders of two-person companies, all the way up to retired entrepreneurs with multiple successful businesses under their belt--wants to help other people. Some express that desire to help more so than others, or in more respectable and recognizable ways, but at the end of the day entrepreneurship is rooted in bringing people together. Creating a business that employs people and provides jobs, in itself, is a noteworthy act.
And finally, if there is one emotion every single entrepreneur embodies completely, it's Trust. They trust others, but they also put an incredible amount of trust in themselves.
This, really, is what separates the "wantrepreneurs" from the entrepreneurs--this level of trust. People who aspire but never grab hold get in the way of themselves. They aren't able to take that next step because they doubt themselves, their vision, and whether they can deliver on their own expectations.
Entrepreneurs don't. They know what they know, they admit what they don't, and they commit to the journey. They trust themselves enough to figure it out.