The Flipside of Entrepreneurship: How Dilemmas Affect Entrepreneur’s Ambition

The Entrepreneur’s ambition is the wheel of entrepreneurial activities and one of the main reasons of success and growth of new ventures. The role of entrepreneur’s character was discussed in the previous posts such as the golden eagle entrepreneur and the golden eagle farm. However, the entrepreneurial challenges during startup and eventual dilemmas have not been well covered. In fact any entrepreneur faces various trial-and-failures during his/her startup and some dilemmas can cause fatal impacts both on the company and the entrepreneur. Hence, the entrepreneurs are usually suggested to use their learning curve accordingly and learn from their experiences and mistakes. But learning from failures can also result in a new problem: shutting down the entrepreneur’s ambition.

We mostly hear about the pros of entrepreneurship; nonetheless, the flipside is less researched and discussed. During my own startup in Sweden, I faced various challenges from which one had a fatal impact both on me as an entrepreneur and my new born company. I have imported some goods that needed special licenses from particular agencies. Knowing that I need such license, I asked my supplier to provide me with that and he assured me that all of his products include such license. He shipped the goods accompanied by the license and the products were cleared successfully from the custom couple of times. I was sure about the legal issue on the import and as the product was quite attractive to the market I aggressively made a high-volume purchase in order to get the advantage of the economy of scale. This way I have got a much better discount and could sell the products with an unbeatable price on the market.

Besides that, I was in the early growth stage and due to the early success I was interviewed by local newspapers. The next day I got a call from the police and as they came to my office, I realized although the products were released from the custom by some well-known carriers several times, the certificate is not a valid one and what I needed to have. Consequently, I was accused of illegal import to the country. For a person who had never faced a police or a legal issue in his life it was quite tough to manage such a dilemma. I was accused of illegal import and illegal sales, therefore, I got in touch with my business coach at the incubator where I was running my own company.

This was not the whole terrible thing; the worst part of the story came out the next day when I saw my own name and my company’s name in the next day’s newspapers with a full story of smuggling goods into Sweden. This caused a huge decline in sales, and totally ruined my own reputation as well as my company’s. The first thing I tried to do was to resist and find a way out of the trap. At that time I was myself in terrible condition.

It was summer holiday and most people who could help me were on their vacation. Fortunately, the only one who was left to give me some hand was the most experienced business coach at the incubator. He was more experienced than others and we started to find some solutions. Thus, he connected me to a lawyer and supported me at the time. I always appreciate his supports, but beyond his help he told me a sentence that I think every entrepreneur should print out and put it on the wall.

“Most people say that they should learn from mistakes and experiences; it is true, but DO NOT LEARN TOO MUCH!!”

Although I was not in a decision of giving up at the time, but the psychological effect of the problem undermined my energy so much that I really needed such a push on my ambition’s button.

Since that time, I preserved and worked harder and harder trying to solve the legal issue and recover the company. The finance of the company was in poor condition, therefore, I managed the finance with some bootstrapping techniques I have learned before. In order to overcome the reputation problem I managed to fix the problems of import and imported the products once again; this time with enough certificate. Then I advertised in some popular magazines and presented the company with the same products in the top business show of the country as well. The aggressive strategy made the recovery and the sales started once again.

The experience I’ve learned was quite valuable for me. A true entrepreneur should know when to fight back and stay aggressive and when not. Sometimes the cost of staying in business might be high and the wise way is to pivot in the business, but learning too much is a dangerous thing.

Most successful entrepreneurs had several failures in their attempts, but they did not give up when they faced such failures. Elon Musk is an example of entrepreneurs who faced this dark side of entrepreneurship when he failed in his companies space X and Tesla Motors in the first attempts. Even now he has the challenge of the model S that caught fire and brought the company’s shares prices down in the market. What kept him and helped him to stay in the market was his entrepreneurial ambition. He is now a well-known golden eagle entrepreneur of our era and runs three companies successfully.

On one hand, it is important to have risk assessment and be careful when you’re dealing with contingencies. On the other hand though, you should never lose your entrepreneurial ambition when facing dilemmas. Hence, as mentioned in the post on the Sun Tzu’e legacies, a true entrepreneur knows when to fight and when not.

Learning from experiences and mistakes is surely important for startups and the use of concepts such as lean startup can help the entrepreneurs optimize their business process. Nevertheless, the psychological effects on entrepreneur is quite crucial and a golden eagle entrepreneur never lets the failures kill his/her ambition.

The juvenile golden eagle fails several times in its flight learning period; it keeps trying to fly, though. The golden eagle fails a lot in its hunting, but it keeps venturing on the potential preys over and over until securing a prey. The Golden Eagle learns from the experiences, but never gives up. The golden eagle entrepreneur NEVER LEARNS TOO MUCH.