Monday, November 29, 2010

Entrepreneurs are Pioneers

A good friend of mine loves to talk about the commonality between pioneers and entrepreneurs. He feels he is constantly under attack for the innovative and cutting-edge ways he is shaking up a pretty antiquated industry.

To paraphrase, he often has said something like this to me:

"You know, Ken, entrepreneurs are like pioneers. Pioneers are out there, leading the charge, finding new opportunities, and forging new trails. But a lot of the Pioneers receive resistance. In the early days of America, the resistance sometimes came in the form of arrows being shot at them. If a Pioneer was ever hit, it was almost always in their back. You'd never see a pioneer with an arrow in his chest, always in his back."

Interesting perspective, and he always sounds bitter when he mentions this topic. But there is something inside him, maybe deep down, that loves the adversity. That's right, he loves the challenge, and he accepts his critics as proof of concept. Yes, the fact that they oppose him is the very validation he needs to prove that he's on the right track. He actually views the figurative arrows in his back as proof he's headed toward the best untamed, uncharted territory.

Perhaps thinking about the alternative to being a pioneer would help put this in perspective. After all, you could stay home, where it is relatively safe, and keep doing things the way they've always been done. But isn't that becoming more risky, with the business climate changing at an increasingly fast pace? At the risk of being left behind, perhaps some of the adversity pioneers face doesn't seem as daunting.

Wherever you are at in your entrepreneurial venture, you already know the risks and rewards of being a pioneer. But you should keep charging on and moving forward, not turning around long enough to expose the front half of you to competitors and naysayers alike.