While for many, the career choice of entrepreneurship answers the call of destiny, for others there is no calling, until necessity knocks at their door. Often referred to as the ‘Necessity Entrepreneur’, (a purely descriptive term), those that find themselves on this path do so out of personal or professional circumstances that leave them no option but to work for themselves.
I admire the individuals that take on the reigns of entrepreneurship in this manner. To me, they show huge streaks of courage, innovation, and creativity as they seek to carve out a living and a future out of somewhat shaky beginnings.
The Reluctant Entrepreneur
However, there are potential pitfalls – aside from the usual risks – that can accumulate and threaten to de-rail the entrepreneur that evolves in this manner. The biggest one that I come across with my clients is that of reluctance. The ‘Big R’ is what I somewhat affectionately call it, and I’m not being facetious here. I am not shocked by it. I am not afraid of it. In fact, I await its appearance, and I know how to advise the ‘Reluctant Entrepreneur’ to escape from it!
For any of us plied into a situation not of our first choice, whether it’s a job, house, location, clothing, and so forth, there is a sense of trepidation, uncertainty, and almost definitely, reluctance. Second choice was never the plan, but hey, we’re adults, we have to have a Plan B right? Correct, but Plan B isn’t generally what you originally envisaged. Plan B is a compromise.
Most of us accept this in theory, but that doesn’t mean we can adjust to this change of mindset immediately. Out of our comfort zone, like the necessity entrepreneur, the road is rougher, longer and unfamiliar, and of course reluctance will creep in at some point.
For some, this soon will pass as the adjustment is made. For others, this takes longer. In essence, the necessity entrepreneur possibly passes through the transition slower than those that chose this career path from the get-go.
Stages of Transition
The stages of transition have been likened to grief, and ground-breaking author and psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler Ross developed the five stages of grief model that is often adapted and transferred to describe the stages of personal transition. She talks about the stage of denial, and I believe that denial and reluctance are inextricably linked.
How to Spot Reluctance Creeping In
- Avoidance of certain jobs, clients, and situations
- Unwillingness to delegate, or ask for help or extra assistance
- Inability to tackle difficulties with employees such as minor discipline issues
- Feeling of inadequacy and ‘imposter syndrome’
- Experiencing stretches of self-pity
- Feeling angry with the world at large for putting you into the situation
How to Move from Reluctance to Acceptance
- Familiarize yourself with the stages of transition and change.
- Allow yourself to grieve for your old life and the circumstances that led you to become an entrepreneur out of necessity.
- Map out the positives of your new situation and remember that you had the strength to move forward.
- Gain clarity around your strengths and weaknesses. Do a personal audit and see clearly what greatness you can bring to your new role.
- Design a routine that includes your business day and your personal time. Be kind to yourself and add in activities to look forward to that will pull you along.
- Network and meet other entrepreneurs. You will realize you are not alone in your reluctance and learn how they coped, especially at the beginning.
- Aim to move forward and take action EVERY DAY.
- Don’t put a time-limit on when to reach the acceptance level. Let it happen naturally.
- ACT – OBSERVE – REVIEW. We’re all human and entrepreneurs need to adapt plans constantly. Don’t get caught up over it. Just accept that change is inevitable and keep looking forward.
I know from coaching entrepreneurs that behind most reluctance lies fear. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, and so on. And, this is where the real truth lies – we are all the same as entrepreneurs. Who amongst us hasn’t felt these emotions at some point? It happens weekly, even daily!
So no matter what way you would like to describe your type of entrepreneurship, you’re probably in essence the very same as your cohorts – which is why I would much more prefer to swap the ‘Big R’ of reluctance with another ‘Big R’ and see the truer picture – that of the ‘Resilient Entrepreneur’!