Entrepreneurship, the new religion

And now that WhatsApp has been sold for $19 billion, the trend is continuing.

Now that WhatsApp has been sold for $19 billion dollars, we are going to have a new wave of entrepreneurs creating the next WhatsApp. The same thing happened after the success with Facebook and Twitter, which triggered attempts for new companies based on the same concept. If someone has succeeded, then so can I. A lot of people start getting down to business, with one common denominator, they call themselves entrepreneurs and will make a lot of money quickly. Only, this ambition is usually focused on a business they know nothing about and have no particular interest in.

Entrepreneurship has become a kind of religion. It has become, for many, more an end than a means, with many people spending more time reading articles, discussing concepts, and talking about all the gossip and transactions than working. They all seem to know how to analyze better than the Facebook team whether the WhatsApp purchase was cheap or expensive (personally I have no idea, but considering what they have done so far, I give them the benefit of the doubt that they are not entirely foolish). Many of these entrepreneurs focus so much on being entrepreneurs that they sometimes forget something…the customers themselves. When studying the history of successful “entrepreneurs” like Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, Sam Walton, founder of Walmart or Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, there is something in common: the focus was not on being an entrepreneur or a billionaire, but the obsession on total customer satisfaction, doing things in a better, different and more efficient way than the competition. In a word PASSION.

According to Wikipedia, “entrepreneur is the term used to identify the individual who starts an organization. It is the individual who initiates. But if he doesn’t start it and does nothing else, and only talks about the idea of starting a company, he is not an entrepreneur, he is unemployed. To be an entrepreneur you have to start doing. However, this situation can be justified, in part, by the difficulty, because starting your own business is not, and doesn’t have to be, for everyone. Many people like the idea of being an entrepreneur, but few people actually enjoy being one. For every WhatsApp, there are a million businesses that go bankrupt, or barely pay their bills. Nights and sleepless nights, stress, the “rope around the neck”, and insecurity, are not, for most people, the best way to live day to day. For others they really are, and in many cases, addicted to adrenaline, it’s the only way they can feel happy.

Another theme commonly referred to, regarding entrepreneurship, is failure, celebrated in phrases such as “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm” (Winston Churchill). While I quite agree, when you feel it in your skin, it’s not as sexy as when you read it on an inspirational poster. I recently had a project that failed, and consequently, quite a few financial, personal, professional and emotional costs. I learned a lot, but it was also the hardest period of my life, and if I got stronger, there is nothing easy about this process.

I don’t want to convey the message that entrepreneurship is something negative. Quite the opposite, entrepreneurship is something fantastic that makes society move forward, generates social and economic development and I believe it is part of the solution to the current situation in the country. Courses, articles, conferences are also very useful in order to avoid certain errors along the way. But entrepreneurship is about doing business, being successful, which takes a lot of effort and an obsession and passion for your customer.

David Bernardo
David Bernardo
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