The Entrepreneurship Roller-Coaster

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by Groundswell Social Ventures cohort member, Silvia Di Blasio

Here I am in my third month of the Groundswell Social Venture program, sitting at home, excited to be in “class tomorrow and yet, I haven’t seen my cohort in more than a month!

Much has transpired since I wrote my previous post about what natural systems can teach us about entrepreneurship and I have been travelling in an out of what I want to call “The Beginner Entrepreneur Roller-Coaster”…

I don’t know how any go through this, but I’ve been a career coach for many years and seen how a similar roller coaster traps people: insecurity, doubts, fear, even real and very practical challenges such as “how will be pay my bills if I don’t start making money soon enough?”. My next least favorite ones include, “what if nobody buys my services/products?” or, “what if I’m not ready/I’m not good enough?”

It may be easier for the young and single, but for a middle age woman, suddenly leaving a comfortable and reliable job to become a social entrepreneur is not easy, believe me!

There are two ways to know if you are doing the right thing: the easiest way is when synchronicity kicks in and everything seems to start to connect, you meet the right people, find the right place for your business, know exactly what you want to do and why…things start going easy and support flows from everywhere and everyone…this is the dream of every beginner entrepreneur, and sometimes it really goes that way!

The other way to know if you are doing the right thing is to have this “gut feeling”, this “call” and a dream of how things could be. But in this case, you don’t have it all paved: you will find every possible challenge: financial, skills gap, lack of time, health, even support! But no matter how many barriers you find in your way, the gut feeling doesn’t go away: it comes back in the way of a text message, a phone call, an article you read, the words of a friend…and something inside you reminds you of the “why” you are doing this: it is not the money, it is not the “success” as measured by society, it is not about being “right”, it is about a need, a pain, both inside you and inside the community you care about.

How do you respond to something like this?

It would be easier to go home, take the safe route and put on some blinders to not see the sides. It would be easier to say to yourself you are too old to start again, too comfy where you are to risk your reputation, that you don’t need all this juggling around with schedules and homework…

But then it is the other side: that scream coming from the chest, even beyond, from the Earth, from communities of people trapped in routines: how do I get out? - they scream, every-single-day…

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There is a test I put out for you and anyone (young or old, experienced or beginner) who is considering starting again and risking it all for a social venture idea: go for a walk, in nature and alone. Take a deep breath and see yourself in five years: how do you see yourself in choice “A” (the well paved route, the “safe” and not committed one), how do you see yourself in 10 years from now? In 15? 20? Where are you and with whom? What are you doing? How is your health? How is your spiritual health? What do you feel about the decision you are making today, that then will be past? What do you tell yourself? What do you celebrate? Regret?

Now try the same exercise with choice “B” (the risky one: becoming a social entrepreneur), see yourself in five, 10, 15 years, what do you see? What do you tell yourself? What do you celebrate and regret?

Now make your choice. Whatever it is, know you’ll need to live with it. Or not, you can always try again in six months, one year, five years…but each time, you’ll have lost something, risked something, learned something, gained something...

Tomorrow, I choose to go to class and see…

Silvia