Could I be a blogger entrepreneur?
Entrepreneur: I really struggle with that word. It’s used pretty loosely and can encompass a variety of things, from someone who sets up a business to all of their associated traits and characteristics. Recently, I called up one of my friends who left his job at JP Morgan over a year ago to pursue the path of a self-made man. I asked him what made him want to do this and if there was anything he possessed that made him more inclined to have that entrepreneurial spirit. I wondered if it had anything to do with being more confident, more assertive or more organised, for example. The truth is, I was looking for an answer that didn’t really exist. There’s nothing about us that makes us inherently better at adapting to or rebelling against the traditional workforce. I’m on the pursuit to find out why so many people my age experience the same conflict as I do – wanting to be ‘free’, whatever the hell that means, and at the same time wanting security.
What does success look like?
Not everyone can be successful as an entrepreneur but simultaneously, everyone has a different concept of what ‘success’ actually is. Some are content to be able to pay the bills and go out for a nice meal every once in a while. Others aim for material milestones. However, regardless of how much profit someone wants to make, they’d be lying if they said success as an entrepreneur had absolutely nothing to do with money. There are much easier paths to take if you just want to live on your own terms and plod along until you hit retirement.
A few months ago, I wrote a post on millennial bloggers. My hypothesis was that as a generation, we are in an unique position that makes us ready for taking calculated risks because really, we were never given a very stable position to begin with. I mean think about the times we grew up in – recession, inflation in our adult lives, low employment rates straight out of uni, different goals to our parents, a generation gap (hi, Brexit) etc. Context over, how can you really understand what it means to be successful, beyond this very abstract concept of being ‘happy’, when there are so many factors beyond your control?
For example, last year I worked with so many of my dream brands. I thought that made me kind of successful in my own right, especially because I’m not considered to have a particularly large following. But then a few months later, when I reflected on those partnerships I’d think, ‘wow they really didn’t treat me very well’ – or ‘they weren’t as professional as I had hoped’, regardless of whether they or not they paid well. I went so horribly wrong in measuring success because I was so dependent on others. They may have been some of my favourite brands but I wasn’t necessarily their top blogger (duhhh) – but as an ‘entrepreneur’ that really, really sucks.
What is failure?
Referring back to that phone call with my friend, he asked me why I didn’t want to call myself an entrepreneur. Sure I wasn’t blogging full time but I was running it like a business and dedicating the hours. My honest response was: “I’m afraid of failing and that it’ll be my fault. I’m scared that I’ll stop learning, stop being better.” It’s so much easier to understand what it means to not be good enough than it is to be great. I don’t think that’s a millennial thing, I think that’s a human thing.
I did a shoot recently for a L’Oreal brand and I was super nervous when filming. Everyone was being so nice and with my usual dark humour (which no one really comprehends) I said, “you’ve got to stop being so nice! This is why Asians are such high achievers – we’re never told that we’re doing well”. Sometimes I think that the very reason I achieve my goals is because I beat myself up until I get to where I need to be. Many of us are our own enemies, our own worst critics. Our own scary Asian mums. But could that be failure in itself, because we are letting ourselves down? Not being kind enough about our intellect, our ability or potential? We may not be going so far as to hold ourselves back but we sure aren’t making it an easy journey.
Does self-love have anything to do with entrepreneurship?
It’s really hard to value yourself when there’s a possibility that others may not see you the same way. From my blogging career, one of my most painful experiences was when I was told that one of my goals, which is to have a column one day, is impossible. Just because I was an entrepreneur. Just because I identified as a blogger. And I turned that hateful comment and negativity into one of the most read blog posts on The Haute Heel.
Except, you know what, this isn’t enough. Just because I know how to channel frustration into something productive doesn’t mean that I believe in myself any more than before that incident. I was talking to my photographer about this last week and she said the reason I’m so bothered about embracing entrepreneurship is because I don’t appreciate myself. It’s so strange how when you hear something aloud from someone else, it makes more sense than when you say it internally.
shot by Hayden, @hyydnn in Singapore
Okay, so with fear that this is turning into one of those horrendous Thought Catalog articles, I’m going to sum up some practical, universal points to takeaway from this very personal post:
- being an entrepreneur doesn’t require any special set of personality traits.
- don’t measure your success based on others.
- success, like happiness, is a constant pursuit with little goals here and there to help guide the way.
- sounds so cheesy but there is no ‘trial run’. You’re already in the race, you just got to keep going.
- even if being rich isn’t your goal, you have to be smart. Make sure you have a stable source of income and a nest to fall back on.
- keep learning, don’t assume others will teach you.
And lastly, if you want to be a blogger entrepreneur or really any kind at all, maybe that alone is enough.
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