You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Fishermen As entrepreneurs, may we strive to implement the humility and hard work of a fisherman to build stronger, community-driven, inclusive companies that ultimately have the ability to adapt and change.

By Rebekah Iliff

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Somewhere between sweating profusely under the blazing sun and riding full speed in a fishing boat off the Northern Coast of Colombia a few months ago, I was reminded as to why I am so utterly enamored with entrepreneurs: They have an insatiable appetite to learn and grow to see their vision realized. A lesson I learned in the least likely of places – on a boat.

Although my purpose in visiting the Fishing with Mobile Nets program in the country (an initiative of Qualcomm Wireless Reach) was to understand how technology is empowering local fishing communities, what I took away were invaluable entrepreneurship lessons from a handful of the kindest, hardest working, grateful souls I've had the pleasure of meeting.

If you are an entrepreneur and want to have an impact on the world, employ these tactics and you'll have a better shot at not only building a sustainable business but also building strong connections with people and the planet while pursuing your profits.

Related: The 8 Biggest Challenges for New Entrepreneurs

1. Be consistent

Perhaps the most humbling and inspiring aspect of observing the local fisherman was their extreme dedication to consistency, even though they had no idea what the day would bring. Nonetheless, they were up at 3 a.m., on the beach by 5 a.m. and out in the water casting their nets by 7 a.m. Then, in the afternoon, a similar exercise. Day in and day out.

No complaining, no moments of feeling sorry for themselves when the day yielded very little fish. Rather, the knowing of another opportunity to fish -- the consistency of this -- kept them pushing forward. The same thing can be said for any entrepreneur. Consistency is imperative to build structure around the chaos or the unknown.

Imagine trying to scale a company in which the CEO demands meetings with his team at the drop of a hat or the engineers show up whatever days of the week they deem appropriate. It wouldn't work.

2. Utilize and appreciate every asset you have

The unspoiled entrepreneurs -- the ones who have rubbed nickels together to propel their ideas into the limelight -- have a unique ability to utilize everything around them toward their aim: resources, networks, technology, you name it. Instead of complaining about what they don't have, they appreciate what they do have and say, "Look at all this! We have enough for now, and it's perfect until something better presents itself."

In the case of the Fishing with Mobile Nets fishermen, you guessed it: they didn't have much. Old boats painted over dozens of times, nets sewn and re-sewn over and over again, motors that could be fixed with a little spit and grease, were what they had to work with for the technology initiative. Despite not having the latest and greatest, they appreciated what they had and took advantage of their resources.

Related: 8 Ways to Think Like an Entrepreneur

3. Understand how you fit into the community

In the Northern part of Colombia, particularly on the coastline, fishing is one of the key trades. Not only is it required to feed the local communities, but it also creates economic stability. The local fishermen understand their role, and how it directly impacts their community.

Modern-day entrepreneurship often misses the importance of building a community-oriented business, because many organizations aim for global scale and never see the direct impact "near and dear to home." However, I do think this is something to keep in mind: while we may not see the direct impact our products or services have on our physical community, we would be best served to embrace our customer communities, strive to see how we can support them and enable them to thrive, while also building a profitable business.

4. Build an inclusive team of people you trust

The power of teamwork, for such a physically laborious thing as fishing, is outsized beyond anything I've ever observed. Many of the fishermen were in their 60s and 70s and had been working alongside each other for three decades. Beyond the work, they found extreme pleasure in teasing each other, laughing at inside jokes and finding joy throughout the day in the simple things. This ability to trust each other, to invest in each other day after day, is only found in an inclusive, emotionally connected group of people.

So if you think that building a culture of exclusivity and dog-eat-dog will get you far, I'd challenge you to re-think your philosophy. Entrepreneurship is often a long haul, and finding success requires an inclusive culture where trust exists at the core.

5. Be open to change

It probably goes without saying, but being open to change is what ultimately allows the entrepreneur to achieve greatness. If we remain stubborn, unable to draw outside the proverbial lines, innovation cannot thrive.

Watching a 71-year-old fisherman in the remote village of La Boquilla talk about how he uses technology to increase his profits, learn new things and interact with his grandchildren is a life lesson for us all. It's never too late for change, and there is certainly no perfect environment for it.

As entrepreneurs, may we strive to implement the humility and hard work of a fisherman to build stronger, community-driven, inclusive companies that ultimately have the ability to adapt and change.

Here's a video of the fishermen at work:

Related: The True Meaning of 'Entrepreneur'

Rebekah Iliff

Chief Strategy Officer for AirPR

Rebekah Iliff is the chief strategy officer for AirPR, a technology platform to increase public-relations performance that serves Fortune 500 and fast growing technology companies. Previously, she was the CEO of talkTECH Communications, where she created an industry-first methodology for emerging technology companies which positioned talkTECH as one of the fastest growing, launch-only PR firms in the U.S. Iliff holds a B.A. in philosophy from Loyola University Chicago, and an M.A. in organizational management and applied community psychology from Antioch University at Los Angeles (AULA).

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Business News

Yes, You Can Buy a Foldable Tiny Home on Amazon — And Now It's Selling for Less Than $12,000

The waterproof and flameproof house was listed around $35,000 a few months ago.

Business News

This One Word Is a Giveaway That You Used ChatGPT to Write an Email, According to an Expert

"Delve" has increased its presence in written work since ChatGPT entered the scene.

Starting a Business

4 Common Mistakes That Will Spell Doom Your Ecommerce Business

It's hard to spot a success story before it happens, yet it's easy to tell if a business will struggle. With that in mind, here are the four most common mistakes people make that you should avoid when starting an ecommerce business.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

This Futuristic Wearable Smartphone Alternative Projects a Screen on Your Palm — And It's Now Widely Available

Humane's Ai Pin fastens magnetically to clothing and becomes a voice-activated AI assistant that can make calls, send texts, take notes, and find answers to complex questions.