Entrepreneurship: The (Wild) Ride of Your Life

By Tony Ford
Ford Leadership Solutions

Welcome to “Exceptional Entrepreneurship” – a conversation between you and me about all of the issues that make being a private business owner the best and at times the most challenging job there is.

In this ongoing series in FW Inc., I will solicit your opinions, ideas and examples of how we entrepreneurs overcome obstacles and exploit opportunities. Please read these articles with an eye toward emailing me your take. Give me your ideas and solutions for ways to solve problems and create new opportunities. I will share them and, together, we can test their effectiveness.
As a starting point, I want to provide a word picture that answers a question that I get all of the time – maybe, you do too:

So, What’s It Like To Be An Entrepreneur? “I’m shaking, I’m sweating, I’m laughing and trying to walk in a straight line toward the nearest bench. The Texas Giant roller coaster looms large and deafening behind me. Momentarily, another train car full of screaming passengers roars down a 150-foot drop with their eyes squeezed tight and their mouths hanging open, now fully appreciating why they waited an hour to experience these precious few seconds of terror.”

Having just gone through this same riotous span of emotions, I still can’t wait to go again. This is why we so often refer to entrepreneurship as a roller coaster ride. Because it is:

Filled with anticipation

We have to stand in line for a long time, waiting our turn to prove our solutions will work. It starts with a service to offer or a problem to solve. That soon becomes a mission, then maybe an obsession, but we have to wait for others to see it like we do and then to join their hearts, minds and resources to our vision before it becomes a real business.

Thrilling and terrifying

Once the ride starts, there is no stopping until we get to the end. We are committed to finish.

Unnecessarily lonely

Even before sitting down in a ride car filled with excited passengers, each of us has to make a conscious choice to join the group in the experience. Entrepreneurship is by nature an individual undertaking that requires the participation of others to reach its full potential. Unless we make ourselves “interdependent” with others, it rapidly becomes the loneliest ride of our lives.

Personally satisfying

Sitting at the front of a seemingly out-of-control roller coaster car seems foolish to some. Yet, when the ride ends, the satisfaction of having confronted our fears makes the risk worthwhile. In the same way, entrepreneurship is a very personal journey into overcoming obstacles and exploiting opportunities that others dare never to challenge.

Over, way too soon

The sudden drop, curves, screams, relief, all come flooding back as the passenger car suddenly slams us forward in our harnesses, and we arrive back where the ride began. No matter how long it takes an entrepreneur to find success, when he or she looks back, it feels like the longest and shortest ride of his or her life. All of the problems, people and places come flooding back as if it were yesterday when they had that first crazy idea that ultimately worked.

Leaves us wanting to do it again and again

Some things in life just don’t make much sense. Like why would anyone rush to get back on a roller coaster that had just scared him or her half to death? Entrepreneurs know why. It’s the adrenalin rush when an idea comes around full circle to become a successful business. It’s seeing co-workers overcome challenges and grow. It’s proving to the rest of the world that dreams still do come true. It’s finding our unique path in life that makes us who we really are.

Sadly, most people will never have the opportunity to experience this incredible ride. They will never submit themselves to it. That’s the thing about being an entrepreneur; it’s really hard to explain to folks who have never experienced it. Just like a roller coaster.

Tony Ford is an award-winning Fort Worth entrepreneur with a history of starting and growing industry leading companies. He now helps other business owners grow and sell their companies. He is also program director for the 2017 FW Inc. Entrepreneur of Excellence Awards program. Tony will write this column in each issue of FW Inc. Contact Tony at [email protected].