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Over the years as an entrepreneur, I have fallen flat on my face many times. Looking back, I realize I lacked the understanding of just how critical it is to be truly self-reliant. Self-reliance is the ability to rely on your own efforts, abilities, powers and resources, rather than that of those around you.
In 2007, I was enrolled at Montclair State University, taking a slew of classes that did not interest me. I was also cooking food for a few of my friends, and one of them in particular, Eric, thought what I was doing was a good idea. After a conversation about the business idea I was pursuing, Eric asked if he could be an investor in my healthy kitchen business idea.
I thought I had landed my first “big deal.”
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I immediately took the news to my best friend, Seth, and we thought this was our surefire path to success. I knew cooking food was my passion, so given the newfound circumstances and a potential investor, I dropped out of college.
Let me remind you, I was not a chef and I had no money to my name. We immediately began looking for storefronts and slapped the name “Diesel Grill” on everything we did.
Just when we thought we had found the perfect location, Eric disappeared. Reality set in. I had withdrawn from my classes, put all my eggs in one basket, and I was back right where I started. This was the first of many “reality checks” I would endure, but it was also the moment that kicked my self-reliance into gear.
How disappointment led me to see the true value of self-reliance
Why would I put so much weight on something that had no written agreement, terms or contract? And why would I even consider partnering with someone who did not share my dreams or passion?
I know, I know.
Reading this, you’re thinking, “Wow, that was dumb,” but too often, many young entrepreneurs find themselves in similar situations. I know that the idea of someone investing in your business is enticing, and sometimes it may feel like it’s your only option, but trust me when I tell you, think before you accept.
Ultimately, to succeed, I had to get the business going on my own. Now, this doesn’t mean this method is applicable to all entrepreneurs. I had a hard time conveying my plan to others and couldn’t find a partner who shared my vision and passion. At that point, it was smarter for me to rely on my own efforts to cook, package, clean and deliver everything myself, until I could work out the kinks and begin to paint a picture of my business model in action.
The more I was able to accomplish in my business, the more confidence I gained and the more freedom I felt. I was never worried about anyone quitting or backing out. My leadership skills began to blossom, as I was learning every minute detail of my business. I no longer felt like I needed to rely on anyone, and I knew I was going to be able to get this thing going.
Had it not been for the unfortunate series of events that led to me dropping out of college, I would never have realized just how truly important self-reliance is.
When it comes to starting a business, you’ve got to get your hands dirty, learn, grow and believe that relying on yourself is the only sure path to achieving your own version of success.