Taking the Leap Into Entrepreneurship

Embracing uncertainty is the first step toward success

13 April 2016

So you want to be an entrepreneur? Well, I have news for you: The first step into entrepreneurship is the biggest. Why? Because of the overwhelming uncertainty that’s associated with it.

That vast uncertainty deters many would-be entrepreneurs before they even start a business. But in my experience, the act of going headfirst into the unknown changes you for the better.

When I was at the University of Texas pursuing a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, I read a book that would profoundly affect my life: The Greatest Salesman in the World. One passage in particular stood out. It was about the importance of being a lion (a leader) and not a sheep (simply following the herd). With that idea in mind, I looked around the university and realized that all my peers were pursuing the same thing: a degree. After graduation, we’re all going to take this piece of paper and compete for jobs. We were sheep, and the path had already been carved out for us.

The idea of working day in and day out for that piece of paper was hard for me to grasp. Besides, what did I have to look forward to after I graduated? The only thing that would change was that I would be chasing a different piece of paper: a paycheck.

I wanted to differentiate myself. I wanted to create my own path, and be a lion. I realized that entrepreneurship was the way to achieve my goal. But I had no idea where to start.

My decision to jump into the entrepreneur abyss opened up a whole new world of challenges and problems. However, it allowed me to create my own path and that alone provided me with the fuel to dive even deeper.

I started my software company, Lion Mobile, in August 2013. Despite not bringing in enough revenue early on to sustain my colleagues and myself, the venture was a way to tap into my creativity and build a team to pursue a common goal. I went from not knowing how to start a business, to starting a successful company that provides mobile application services to other businesses. I have learned and grown faster than I would have had I been content with solely pursing a corporate career path. My achievement has opened up opportunities for me, like public speaking and becoming an author.

The media have warped our minds into believing that we have to be a Mark Zuckerberg or a Steve Jobs to be considered a success. Personally, if I’m growing, then I’m successful. And it’s my obligation to send the elevator back down to help others succeed.

Dealing with uncertainty head-on has a way of bringing out the best in us. The challenges force us to reach deep inside, not just to survive but also to thrive. As a result, overcoming uncertainty accelerates our growth and development. That benefit alone is worth the leap of faith.

Think about how much wisdom you’ve gained from challenges. When you lose a significant other, for example, it can seem like your world is over. But then you meet someone new, and the next relationship is better because of what you learned before. When you lose a job, you wonder how you’ll pay the bills, but then you find a higher-paying position with better job security.

Struggle requires more out of you. It opens up a world of possibilities that you hadn’t even imagined. Embrace uncertainty, then relish the changes once they arrive.

Imagine your life is an airplane ride around the world. Do you want to have a smooth ride with no detours, flying at one low altitude until you reach your final destination? Or would you prefer to risk hitting some turbulence but persist until you fly higher than you’ve ever flown before? If you choose the latter, I’ll bet you’ll have a great story once you arrive at your final destination.

Embracing uncertainty is the first challenge of entrepreneurship, and it could define your level of success.

I challenge you to embrace it. Realize that unforeseen possibilities lie ahead. New beginnings will come out of it. If you think you have the fortitude to deal with uncertainty, then take a leap into the entrepreneurship abyss.

Devon Ryan, a founder of Lion Mobile, a mobile app development company in Austin, Texas, represents the IEEE Young Professionals group on the IEEE-USA board of directors. Follow him on Twitter: @DevonRyanI.

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