Some people are born to be entrepreneurs.
In my experience, they’re usually the ones who come from entrepreneurial families and pursue their own ventures guided by the wisdom of eager mentors. Often, they end up in business school, where they learn the fundamentals of the industry so nothing catches them off guard. They know how tough the business world can be, so they make it a point to build character and resilience. And they have this inherent, unwavering confidence that no matter how many times they are told no, they will eventually succeed if they keep on going.
I wasn’t one of them. I come from a very academic background that ultimately led me to pursue a degree in medicine. And for a long time, I thought that was where I was meant to be. I pursued it relentlessly, until the day I took the leap with an idea that led me and my co-founder to start Doctor Arthritis.
Our idea was to leverage on our medical training to create products designed to help manage the symptoms of one of the most prevalent conditions that affect adults today—arthritis. We wanted our products to be simple, easy to use, accessible to everyone who needed it; and we wanted to make sure that they received more than just a solution to their joint pain by providing them with comprehensive materials that would educate and inform.
Both of us being doctors meant we had very limited knowledge on how to bring this idea to life. Even so, I have yet to meet an entrepreneur who had everything come easy. Whether we had the business experience or not, the struggles that we faced as we tried to get our business off the ground was almost universal. Jeff Bezos himself, arguably the biggest success story of the digital age, failed multiple times before he found success with Amazon. Arianna Huffington reportedly got rejected by 36 publishers. And PayPal’s Peter Thiel lost 90 percent of its $7 billion assets in the stock market early into his career.
At that point I realized that this is why entrepreneurs are always characterized as resilient. From the time they conceive their big idea, to the moment they tell themselves that they’ve made it—they would’ve already been told no more times than than yes; they would’ve made more mistakes than you can imagine; and they probably came very close to just giving up and cutting their losses.
Therein lies the hard truth about entrepreneurship that nobody ever talks about—you’re going to fail. It’s inevitable, and it’s going to be intense, stressful, and sometimes, it’s going to be big enough that you’ll just want to throw your hands up and give up. Who cares about being your own boss, making your own rules, and building an empire.
But there’s a caveat. It is entirely possibly to pick yourself up, learn from failure and move on. In my experience, you even come back from it stronger.
The road to success is never going to be easy. And failing will actually build your resolve to go against every instinct that’s telling you to hold back and play it safe. So go easy on yourself, learn from your mistakes, and know that even the biggest names in the business had their fair share of failures. I promise you it’s going to be worth it.