Have you ever experienced a dream so vivid that you can almost taste it? When I journeyed to the United States I had no idea where my life was headed. But, as I experienced capitalism – the economic system I struggled to politically support in my home country of Ecuador – my dreams took shape.
If you’re sitting on the sidelines, wondering if entrepreneurship is right for you, this article is for you. If you’re dreaming about a better future for you and your family, this article is for you.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. If you have decided that you prefer the relative safety and comfort of a 9-5 job, I commend you for knowing yourself. But don’t stop reading. What I’m going to share will help you too.
If you want to accomplish anything in life, it will take sacrifice and focus. Michael Phelps, the world’s most highly awarded Olympic swimmer, started monitoring the national rankings in Swimming Worldat a very young age. He knew what the benchmarks were, and he wanted to devour the records. In addition to baseball, soccer and lacrosse, Phelps spent 90 minutes a day, five days a week in the pool aggressively training throughout his high school career. (Source: Bob Bowman)
For myself, success meant supporting my family. I arrived in the United States with little more than the shirt on my back. I worked multiple jobs to make ends meet – from loading boxes into trucks, to literally sweeping the floor. I wanted more. So, I needed to learn the language – both English and the language of capitalism.
There was very little that was comfortable about my journey. To save money and pursue my dreams, I slept on concrete floors in crowded, shared spaces. When you’re earning $5 an hour in New York City, saving money means sacrifice. But I knew I was capable of more.
So, I was sacrificing. But I needed to focus my vision on the things I would continue to sacrifice for.
Steve Jobs famously shared that if an entrepreneur doesn’t have a passion for what it is they are building, they’ll never put up with all of the BS that is required to build it.
I’m no technologist. What I love is music. And I understood how to generate buzz – thanks to my time as a politician in Ecuador. But, as a political refugee in a foreign land, local politics were not a natural fit.
But, I was in the Big Apple – the world capital of entertainment and performance arts. So, I took what I loved and applied what I knew – plus a metric ton of hustle.
After months of working with local club owners in New York, I finally uncovered an opportunity to showcase my skills and take my career to the next level. I overheard a producer griping about the difficulties they were experiencing. I didn’t know how, but I wanted to help. I wanted to work for myself. In order to become an entrepreneur in the entertainment space, I needed to prove myself as a producer.
Once I knew I wanted to become a producer, I leveraged my experience working in various clubs around the city as a promoter.
To break through the glass ceiling, I made an offer that artists couldn’t refuse. I was willing to put in all of the hustle upfront, and accept a commission for the revenue I generated. It was a massive gamble on their part, but I also recognized that it would give me an opportunity to prove myself in a new arena.
So many wannabe entrepreneurs will hustle for a few hours, a few days or even a couple months. But they quickly lose focus and drive. They start focusing more on their current pains, than the long-term goal. When you let the glitz and glamour of the finish line fade, you allow doubts and fear to creep in and overwhelm you.
If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to sacrifice everything. It’s been a constant theme in my life. I sacrificed the ability to live close to the people I love in order to pursue political reform, justice and opportunity for the people of Ecuador. I sacrificed basic living comforts to save money and grow relationships in the entertainment industry. And I sacrificed some serious income on the front-end in order to secure a position with a group of rising stars.
Today, I manage a successful production company. I no longer need to work on commission alone. Artists recognize that I can provide instant value. I am a voting member of the Latin Grammy Awards. To reach the peak of my mountain, I had to grind and hustle in silence. It’s not a glamorous path, but the destination was so worth it. And, of course, conquering this mountain in my personal journey led to setting my eyes on new mountains – opportunities I could only imagine before. The hustle never ends. It only becomes more focused and effective as you combine experience with tomorrow’s energy.
Ambitious people have a tough road ahead of them. And, I can tell you from experience, if you aren’t putting everything on the line, there’s a part of you that will be deeply disappointed in yourself. For me, the safety and comfort of working a 9-5 isn’t worth that pang of regret that comes from the road not travelled.
Crystalize your dreams. Focus on what it is that you love about the future that you imagine. Then start working backwards. What obstacles do you need to overcome? Where can you sacrifice deeper in order to move forward?