February 19, 2013

The Agony of Entrepreneurship

 By Lisa Jones

Last week, YouthActionNet Fellow Tom Dawkins, co-founder of StartSomeGood and founder of Vibe Wire, posted a piece on his blog that caught our attention: The Agony of Entrepreneurship

Here at YouthActionNet, we have long been aware of the emotional needs of young social entrepreneurs who made the bold decision to leave behind newly-established careers and sacrificed their personal lives to further a cause they believe in. Our fellows are environmentalists, architects, journalists, health professionals, and business people. Their options are many, but they choose to use their talents to better our world. Too often, they pay a price -- physically and emotionally -- as a result of myriad stresses and overwork.

Each year at our weeklong fellowship retreat, fellows open up about their lives as young social entrepreneurs. Their parents worry about their future; their friends wonder why they have no free time. Each of them has asked themselves: “Am I doing the right thing?” Young social entrepreneurs balance their passion to change lives with the daily grind of running an organization—and while they rarely dare ask for it, they need help with more than fundraising advice and business plans. 

Today’s young leaders need a support system of like-minded individuals. They need to share their frustrations, celebrate their successes, and ask questions of people who have been in their position. They need a space to admit failure and be reminded that the failure of a project does not equal failure of self. 

In his post, Tom explains:

“Entrepreneurship is a really hard road, filled with rejection, misunderstanding and self-doubt. You pour yourself into a project only to see the world disparage or, worst, ignore it. You must deal with people telling you to get a real job, with the stresses of poverty and uncertainty, with the constant possibility, indeed the likelihood, of total failure. But your job is to project constant positivity, to always be selling your vision and product, to inspire people to join you on this mad mission.” 

To learn more about why Tom believes a person must exist outside of the identity of his or her organization, read more. Also learn the Top 5 Reasons to Share your Leadership Journey
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