As an #entrepreneur I learned to seek freedom not control
I founded She Thinks Purple one year ago. I now know what I was seeking was #freedom, not #control when I made the decision to finally strike out as an entrepreneur-- with no plans of ever returning to a "day job."
Like many new founders, I thought what I needed most was creative and strategic control-- the ability to determine my professional destiny in way that seemed impossible within the traditional workplace. But control quickly eluded me, and over the past year, I've come to understand why that's been the case.
I'm finishing up an #oldiebutgoodie "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael E. Gerber. His book offers insights on why small businesses often fail and how to avoid common traps. He discusses three competing identities: #Entrepreneur, #Manager and #Technician. In short, most businesses are started by people with exceptional technical ability who get fed up with the way they are being managed and decide they must become entrepreneurs so they can control their own destiny. Only, they ended up trapped in the dream of their own making-- because they aren't really entrepreneurs. They are exceptional technicians. Successful businesses require true entrepreneurs, people who are captivated with "wondering" and keep asking the big questions that propel them forward.
I needed this read; and I'm grateful for the recommendation that came from the consummate #bosslady who dolls out business advice like a true Caribbean #aunty ( no filter, no apologies) herself: Sharon Beason via her new book "The Entrepreneur's Startup Gameplan." Buy her book. Thank me later.
Upon reflection, the identity that I had always been yearning to fulfill was that of #entrepreneur-- the version of me that could be #free to explore and wonder and be super curious. What keeps me going on the days when I have to be a #manager and I'm drinking from a firehose or a #technician grinding away long hours perfecting some new product is the realization that each day I have an amazing gift: freedom. I can choose to press reset, to pivot, to rethink, to stop doing what I'm doing altogether and try something new.
With that gift, though, comes the realization that I don't have any more #control now as a founder and CEO than I had as member of a team reporting to someone else. I don't control client satisfaction and approval any more than I could control that of my former bosses. I can't predict how current events or new market developments will shape, increase or diminish demand for my services. I can't insulate myself against implicit bias or any other form of discrimination. I can't make everyone I encounter like me or apologize to each person who doesn't. But that's not what matters. I don't need to control the things that are out of my hands. I focus instead on what I have in abundance. Each day, I have the #freedom to choose what next step (big or small) I will take toward my realizing my destiny, knowing I have no #control over whether or not it leads to success.
Danielle Kristine Toussaint, founder + CEO of She Thinks Purple, is a storyteller, strategist and social impact leader. She has been the writing pen behind op-eds and speeches for Huffington Post, Forbes.com, and TEDx. Danielle holds a B.A. in Political Science and African American Studies from Yale University and a M.S.Ed from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. She’s a founding member of Tide Risers and excited to expand the network to Washington, D.C. in 2019. She is a member of #BFFLabs: Black Female Founders Pre-Accelerator Spring 2018 Cohort.