I don’t always know how to describe my entrepreneurial journey to others. It’s often labor intensive, sometimes overwhelming, frequently invigorating, generally exciting, and usually rewarding. My experience may follow a pattern similar to other entrepreneurs’ journeys, but it’s also unique and marked by my own mistakes and achievements. In fact, I think every entrepreneur experiences growth differently within the life cycle of entrepreneurship.
Right now, in my daughter's first grade class, they're discussing life cycles. She and I sat together and discussed how a seed becomes a seedling, which then goes on to become a young plant, then a mature plant, to a flowering plant, and finally a fruit producing plant. Each and every plant has its own unique life cycle, taking as much or as little time, water, and sunlight it needs to become a fruit producing plant.
Talking about plants got me thinking about how similar that is to entrepreneurship. Sometimes, watching entrepreneurs online makes it look like they went from seed to fruit-producing plant in 6 months or less, and watching it unfold is like seeing it in time-lapse. Much of the growth that happens for a seedling occurs underground in the dirt. Even with a time-lapse camera focused on the ground, you still wouldn't be able to see it happening.
What goes on for an entrepreneur in between those beautiful posts, stories, reels, and blog posts is largely undercover. She may go to therapy once or twice a week, which is likely less than picture-perfect. She may sit at her desk or table with a pen and paper and try to get all the thoughts out of her head because the mental load is heavy.
In between developing her business and working on its growth, she's probably trying to make sure she calls her close family and friends so she doesn't totally lose herself in the process of running a business. She may be back and forth talking with an attorney about her business's legal needs. She might have to carve out specific time to meet with her accountant because finances are anxiety-inducing for her.
If she's fortunate enough to have a community of other entrepreneurs, she might be texting them about how crappy she feels today, or how little she slept the night before. All of those factors are as crucial to the growth as the highlights you're seeing. The journey of entrepreneurship has the potential to bear significant fruit, but each and every entrepreneur's journey, like plants, needs a unique amount of time, water (finance, planning, and calls), and sunlight (community and grace). Remember when you see or talk with an entrepreneur on her journey, each and every one is unique, and it's a true privilege for you to be able to witness it. If you're in her circle, and even if you're not, offer some sunlight for her growth.