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13 Rules for being an Entrepreneur – Follow your dreams [Extract]

Being an entrepreneur is tough. It takes the honing of a multiple of skills and “never say die” attitude to succeed. But anyone can be an entrepreneur, says Alan Knott-Craig, the founder of Project Isizwe and former Mxit head.

With permission from Knott-Craig, Ventureburn is serialising parts of the entrepreneur’s new self-published book 13 Rules for Being an Entrepreneur which is now available via his website http://bigalmanack.com.

Ventureburn is also giving away five copies of the new book. See below for details.

Here’s the first extract — taken from the first chapter titled “The Beginning”.

Follow your dreams

Dreams are like visions. Sometimes they happen while you’re sleeping. Sometimes they happen when you’re reading a book. Sometimes they happen when a loved one dies. Sometimes they happen when you’re sitting in your umpteenth corporate meeting.

Sometimes they happen when you’re talking to someone. Sometimes they happen when you’re 10 years old. Sometimes they happen when you’re 60 years old.

Sometimes they happen in the shower. Sometimes they happen while singing along to Roy Orbison in your car. Sometimes they happen when you have your first child. Sometimes they happen for no reason at all other than destiny.

Ventureburn is serialising parts of the entrepreneur’s new self-published book 13 Rules for Being an Entrepreneur

The point is not how your vision appeared; the point is that you have the good fortune of having a vision. Not everyone is that lucky.

Maybe your dream is to have children. Maybe it’s to live on an island. Maybe it’s to build a billion-dollar business. Maybe it’s to change the education system. Maybe it’s to go to Mars.

Whatever it is, don’t take it for granted. Treasure it. Most people are milling through life with no idea where to go. Most people wish they had a dream. If you have a dream, you’re already blessed with more than most. You now have to chase it.

“I can’t; I don’t have enough money.”

“I can’t; my wife won’t let me.”

“I can’t; it’s too hard.”

No excuses

Blah blah blah. Excuses will only result in you lying in your bed when you’re 70 years old, regretting that you never followed your dream. It’s about then that you’ll realise you only get one life, so maybe you should have lived it to the max.

Need money? Save up. Spouse won’t let you? Leave him or her; he or she obviously doesn’t love you. Too difficult? Toughen up.

Not only will you always regret not chasing your dreams, you’re also insulting all those people out there who never had a vision, never had something to chase. They would give anything to have a dream, and yet you think it’s okay to selfishly ignore yours?

Don’t be a fool. Ignore the naysayers, and take the first steps to living your life to the fullest, bringing your dreams to fruition, and making the most of your short time on Earth. Yet, folks still don’t do it. They consciously ignore what their heart tells them to do. Why don’t people follow their dreams?

For most people, it’s because they can’t handle the uncertainty. Maybe this is you. Maybe you just can’t handle not knowing what will happen tomorrow. So, instead of following your dream and venturing into the unknown, you choose the well-trodden path.

You have a choice

You choose to stay with your spouse because it’s embarrassing to admit you made a mistake, even though you’re desperately unhappy.

You choose your corporate job because you need the monthly salary to cover your mortgage, car payments, and school fees, even though every day at that job is soul destroying.

You choose to study medicine because you don’t want to disappoint your parents. You choose to live your life as it is, even though you know it’s not the life you should be living.

The operative word in each of these scenarios is “choose.” You choose. It’s a choice. For too many, not being happy is their choice. Having regrets is your choice.

Having high overheads is your choice. Having a mortgage is your choice. Not following your dreams is also your choice.

Never let it be said that you didn’t make the choice to waste your short time on Earth.

You can’t use the excuse “But I had no choice.” Not everyone has a dream, but everyone has a choice.

The choice you must make is whether you’re willing to pay the price of dealing with uncertainty. Are you willing to live without debt? To drive a secondhand car? To be unconcerned about what people think? To rebel against your parents? Against society?

Are you willing to lower your lifestyle and overheads in order to make yourself less vulnerable to unpleasant surprises? If you can remove the fear of the unknown, you’ll be free to follow your dreams. If you follow your dreams, you’ll find success.

Passions vs dreams

Your passions are different from your dreams. Take coffee, for example. Lots of people have a “passion” for coffee. Does that mean you should start a roastery or open a coffee shop? No. That way lies failure. Don’t confuse your passions with your dreams.

Your process of attaining your life’s mission is unlikely to instill deep joy along the way. It will be a struggle. The reason you have this mission is because no one else wants to do it. The reason no one wants to do it is because it’s not easy. Save your “passions” for the weekends.

Five lucky readers can each get a copy of 13 Rules for Being an Entrepreneur. Send an email with your full name, address details (only South African addresses) and a contact number to editor@memeburn.com.