How To Be An Entrepreneur

BUT YOU ALREADY KNOW HOW

Recently, I watched the running of the Mexico City Marathon. I watched thousands of athletes weave their way through the leaf-lined roads of Condesa.

Some athletes were running, others not. Many carried backpacks. Some held phones before their faces, video chatting while running. One runner galloped past with a plastic bottle of Coke. Another juggled a soccer ball. Grandmas and grandpas moved while young daughters and mothers ran by in supporting pairs. Many of these runners were clothed as if running this marathon had been an afterthought.

I was amazed.

This marathon was run by everyday people, nearly 7,300 feet above sea level, during a pretty smoggy day. I witnessed every possible age, body type, attire, and footwear pass me by. Every day, people run a marathon. I realized that this is what people do all over the world. They run. They don’t join a runners’ club or buy fancy gear to do what humans are meant to do: run. To them, people run. Period.

I realized that I had brainwashed myself into believing that running a marathon was for “marathon runners.” My beloved Boston Marathon is filled with these “marathon runners”! They’re not just people who run marathons. To be a “marathon runner,” you must follow a particular path. In Boston, you must raise money for an “excellent cause” or be fast. You need to join a running club to get motivated, train, and get help preparing for the enormity of the task. It would help if you had fancy gear, expensive shoes, and a few visits to physical therapy. Then, and only then, you will become a “marathon runner.” (Or so I thought.)

Yet, I was in Mexico City, watching people run a marathon. Because humans run, they do.

NO MONOPOLY ON GOOD IDEAS

The same can be said about the startup community. Some people think that to “do a startup,” you must be taught in college or a class. Or one must be part of a cohort. We are fed the notion that one needs to be in a community of entrepreneurs to bring out your best self. It would help if you freed yourself from everyday concerns to reach your full potential to become the CEO of a Unicorn. 

Who you are is enough to be an entrepreneur.

When did humans have to learn how to “do” a startup? Or get extra applause for working in high-risk startup jobs that often pay better than others. When did business people have to be motivated by cold brew coffee and free beer to work hard and intelligently and make good decisions? 

Humans have worked in high-stress, underfunded companies since the dawn of time. People have been building their own companies since the earliest forms of commerce. At what point did people forget they were welcome to try and make it work—to give it a shot and build a company.

A COMMUNITY FOR ALL

At the very heart of the matter, we are entrepreneurs. We are all runners and idea factories. We are human. Humans run and think and take risks. These are not exclusive characteristics for those within the startup club.  My paternal great-grandparents immigrated from the Middle East in the early 1900s. They operated a variety store in Harvard Square. I’m pretty sure they did not invent the start-up or entrepreneurialism either. 

As I watched the last runners pass, followed swiftly by the army of municipal street sweepers, I reflected upon how special this moment was to protect the end of this marathon. I watched the last athlete jog past, lapped by the medical bus full of his injured colleagues. I witnessed the best performance by the most common athlete of the day.

The startup community could learn something by watching the last runner of this year’s Mexico City Marathon. Not all who run the marathon need to be “marathon runners.” The world is big enough for us all. There is no monopoly on talent or hutzpah or perseverance or excellence. 

You don’t need to be taught to run. You already know how