There are so many statistics and studies out there on entrepreneurship, but if you ask me, every entrepreneur starts with zero.
I’ve sat through thousands of pitches, met entrepreneurs from all walks of life and built numerous businesses. I’ve won some battles and I’ve lost some. But I’ve never actually ‘lost’ anything. If you start with zero, you can only end with zero. Zero is the beginning and zero is the end.
Whatever happens in-between, well–that’s just the game of business. The game of life. The game of building something where nothing once existed. That is what drives me to get out of bed in the morning. That is what pushes me to seek out entrepreneurs, hear their ideas and build businesses with them.
I want the adventure. I want to meet people who want the adventure. From a young age, I knew that a conventional job simply wasn’t for me. I needed the excitement of something more than what I could simply see in front of me. I had faith that there was more than what I saw in front of me.
And my faith has never failed me.
Over and over again, the faith that I have in life, in the universe, in the omnipresent force that drives the market and keeps it buzzing with activity–has never let me down. Markets crash, they bounce right back up. They stagnate, till something shows up and jolts it out of its inertia. They go up in a wave of exuberance only to wake up with a bad hangover the next day wondering, “Hey, what happened last night?”
All that rallying and partying could only last so long.
You see, everything in life moves in cycles…towards an equilibrium. Towards a balance. The highs, the lows, the ups, the downs… it all eventually evens out. That’s why I have faith in life. That’s why I have faith in the markets. That’s why I have faith that even someone who starts with nothing, will one day be something.
We are all forever creating and re-creating ourselves, our businesses, our industries and even entire economies. All the micro stuff leads to the macro stuff and vice versa. The market is a deeply interconnected and interwoven hive of activity, emotions and humans seeking to exchange and connect with one another.
Every time I gaze at the skyscrapers of the Singapore skyline, I remember that this island nation was once nothing but a fishing village. It had no natural resources. A small population. It was even abandoned by the colonial powers during the war.
So how did this happen? How did this tiny little red dot grow to be such a prosperous nation in such a short time?
It started with the number zero.
If you, as an entrepreneur, are worried about loss, risk and uncertainty, then you will simply have to get over it. Yes, it’s an inner battle that one has to fight everyday, but you are the oldest best friend that you’ll ever have on this journey so don’t go and make your hypercritical inner-demons your best allies. Best you pretend to befriend them, let them have their say and pretend you never heard them at all. If they keep yapping, put them on snooze.
And while we’re at it, forget that great idea you had. Forget about how the business is going to sustain itself. And don’t even bother writing a business plan. I have better things to do with my time than hear how you’ve planned it all out. You can’t. Even if you do have a blueprint, you won’t have a clue if it’ll work till you go out there in the market, create a prototype and see what the results are.
If you’re basing your predictions off of what another company has done–then do it first and we’ll see if you get those results.
Start with zero and don’t worry about what happens. If something happens, you’ll be one step ahead of zero. If nothing happens, then you quite simply haven’t gone anywhere.
Oh and if your business doesn’t work out, don’t worry about it and build another one. There are an abundance of opportunities in the world… and no limit to the number of times you can start with zero.
It’ll soon be time for me to catch the sunrise. Enjoy the no-nothingness. It is leading to a life beyond your wildest dreams.