5 Lessons I Learned About Entrepreneurship By Overcoming Poverty
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When someone hears the statement “I wanted to be poor,” they might twist up their face in confusion before thinking to themselves who would ever want to be poor? Interestingly however, there are many people who aspire to be poor without even knowing it.
I often tell the story of how I became acutely aware of the household finances after my parents separated. I would carry the food stamps card, walk my mom’s (often late) rent payments over to property management and shop for deals in the supermarket. I go into details of my experience in my TED talk on financial empowerment.
The reason I say I aspired to be poor is because although navigating poverty was unpleasant, it was an exercise in survival — and I learned to survive. Many people sharing this or a similar reality might simply want to survive as well, not necessarily live a life of excess or luxury. It took working as a cashier at a local grocery store for me to realize that there were people who could afford to comfortably buy groceries with cash or on credit without the aid of food stamps. Suddenly I realized that I didn’t just want to survive, but that I wanted to thrive. Here are five things I did to leave behind a poverty mindset and stop wanting to be poor.Related: 10 Incredible TED Talks About Time Management You Should Watch Right Now
Changed my surroundings
I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to change my surroundings by leaving what I knew and moving across the country to start anew. Although the prospect of leaving behind everything and everyone I knew was quite terrifying, I decided to take the leap of faith that set me on the path I'm on now. Sometimes a change in scenery, influences and exposure is the spark you need to change your circumstances. Some people will spend their entire lives in the city they grew up in. Whatever your aspiration, success just might be on the other side of fear and the unknown.
Invested in education
There are many paid and free options if you're looking for an education in managing personal finances, entrepreneurship, personal development or anything else you might be interested in. For me, investing meant getting free on-the-job training working in financial services and purchasing books, courses, networking events and seminars.
Simply being exposed to concepts, disciplines and practices around wealth-building inspired me to want to learn more and do more. It increased my scope of what was possible and forced me to figure out a path to achieving it. It’s always a good time to learn something new, and with Google at your fingertips, the opportunity to learn is always present.
Built a team
I realized that many of the concepts I had learned were foreign to my peers and the core group of friends and family I spent time with. To take things to the next level, I needed to surround myself with people who had done the things I wanted to do and could show me how it was done. Building strategic relationships was and continues to be incredibly important in my journey as an entrepreneur. Whether it's been paying a professional like a CPA or attorney, finding a mentor or simply networking with somebody who’s connected, building a team has helped to position me for success with each obstacle I’ve encountered or goal I’ve set.
Executed on what I learned
One of the things I’ve had to learn is that you’re never going to be ready, and it’s never going to be perfect. Do it anyway. The fear of failure defeats many people before they ever get started, robbing them of even the faintest taste of success. Executing on what I’ve learned through trial and error has given me the confidence to take bigger chances, invest more and ultimately learn what ends need tightening up. I had to bet on the things I didn't think I was ready for in order to truly leave behind my poverty mindset.
Believed in myself
If I had to sum up my success in one sentence I would say that it all comes down to an undying and unlimited belief in myself. There is no way I could have done anything on this list without the confidence and belief that I deserved more. Believing in myself gave me the courage to relocate, the drive to invest in education, the audacity to network in new circles and the confidence to execute on what I learned.