Brice - Start-Up & Entrepreneur Enthusiast
As the greatest human swimmer on Earth is preparing to air his incredible feat of swimming with an actual shark on Shark Week, it occurred to me this whole experience is very similar to Entrepreneurship. We’re going to break down how to swim with the “sharks” in business.
Let’s dive (pun intended) into some insights we’ve experienced along our way:
- Misconceptions of a shark: Let’s face it—sharks have a bad rap. Thanks to sensationalized stories and stereotyping, sharks have become feared rather than revered. They’re labeled as dangerous, indiscriminate killers that eat anything in sight. This is the same for an entrepreneur. A common misconception is entrepreneurs are their own boss. Turns out being an entrepreneur is all about serving your customer base and the employees who execute your vision. Clients and staff become your boss.
- Now let’s talk about fear. Even the word ‘shark’ spreads fear far and wide, no matter the culture. Everybody has fear. My particular brand of fear usually involves worrying about what people will think of me and my business. I care way too much about what people think of me and how I’m perceived. When people talk about being fearless in business, they’re actually talking about being brave, but the words fearless and brave are not interchangeable. Nor are the words fear and bravery opposites. Fear isn’t the opposite of bravery, it’s a prerequisite. You can’t have bravery without fear. Fear comes first.
- Next, try telling someone “I’m going to swim with sharks”. Their reactions will be less than encouraging. I’m sure you will hear something to the effect: “Isn’t that, ah, awfully dangerous?” or “You’ll be inside a cage, right?” and I’m sure “Sounds like a death wish to me.” I think these are completely the same reactions when letting people know you will be becoming an entrepreneur. You will run into three types of people when beginning your business:
- The Support System”: Supporting does mean that they are your cheerleader. They are your #1 fan, your encourager. They bolster you up when you are down. They figure out when you are struggling and they do what you can to ease the burden. Keep these people close, very close!
- The Distractor”: Those amazing and enticing people who come into your business and completely distract you. More than anyone else, these people have a way of stealing your focus and throwing your efforts off track. Don’t let an amazing person make you forget that you and your business have something amazing to offer the world, too.
- The Sabotage: Those wildly charismatic, big-talking and full-of-luck people who seem to get away with everything. These people have many strengths. The problem is that they use their strengths in devious ways. They have little ambition beyond convincing others to make bad decisions. If you find yourself constantly making bad business decisions every time you’re around someone in particular, it’s time to cut that person out of your business.
- To swim with sharks, diving instructors give these top tips (Let’s see if these fit into our business life, SPOILER ALERT, they do!)
- Leverage local knowledge: Before any dive that involves large numbers or large species of sharks — whether it’s fed, baited or otherwise — dive instructors recommend relying on the instructions of the local dive pros rather than basing your plan on what you think you know. This is completely true in business, you do research of your product or service in your local market to make sure you will be successful.
- BE SELECTIVE WITH OPERATORS: Many of the world’s best shark dives are orchestrated by commercial operators. But before committing your safety and dive dollars, it pays to ask the right questions. When beginning a business, relying on the right pros is essential to create a circle of like-minded individuals you can go to for help and advice. Local resources may include, the Small Business Development Center, Chamber of Commerce, WESST, Co-Working Spaces, Incubators, and other Businesses and Professionals all can help keep your business alive!
- PRACTICE GLOBAL AWARENESS: Because sharks are such dynamic swimmers, diving with them is a 3-D experience. Strong situational awareness is essential to ensure your safety and enjoyment. You must be aware of everything around you — the sharks, the boat, the current, the other divers, where you’re drifting, and so on. Pay close attention to instructions, and be ready when it’s time to get out of the water. Practice being aware of competition and the trends are in your industry. It’s a tough balance of being ahead of the game and treading lightly with the trends to ensure there never come a time you need to “get out of the water”, but it’s a balance that with work and knowledge can be done.
There you have it. Whether you’re starting your first new business, or you’re a serial entrepreneur, remember to pause and listen closely to your breathing for signs of alarm. But trust there are none. There is only the steady, confident rhythm of your inhale and exhale. Never has it sounded so reassuring. You are midway to the surface now.