Hard Work and Perseverance Aren’t Enough — We Must Find Our Edge
I’ve been diving deep into entrepreneurship lately. I’m striving to learn everything I can about business — and trying to understand its darkest secrets — in hopes of attaining a higher level of success. I consider this a crucial step toward achieving one of my biggest and most important life goals.
In the four years my husband, Jared, and I have spent running our baby enterprise, we’ve managed to meet people in our industry (jewelry) who eventually became our mentors. We’ve learned a lot from observing the things they do to grow their own businesses. Getting a glimpse of their progress over many years inspires us to embark on our own journey toward business success.
For some people entering business for the first time, entrepreneurship is like a field of roses — beautiful, fragrant, and lucrative. But for many others, their first venture into business is like crossing a thicket of thorns — rife with uncertainty and danger.
In my observation, the first type of people consists of those who have ample resources, a strong support network, and perhaps the capacity to “cheat” a little bit. The second type, on the other hand, is not as fortunate. Their financial capital might be limited, or they may not be surrounded by supporters — but they are still working hard even if they must “go it alone.”
Jared and I started our business with a minuscule amount of capital, by industry standards. Thankfully, we still had some support. My dad grew up with business-savvy people, and is a small-time entrepreneur himself. He believed in entrepreneurship and constantly encouraged us to start our own business. He saw this as an ideal path for our family, given our limitations of time and physical condition.
Jared has hemophilia and a seizure disorder, and although he likes being employed, it’s not so easy for him to work full time. Since he can’t drive or take public transport alone, commuting to an office is logistically difficult. Due to my mental health, I find it hard to thrive in an office setting. More importantly, Jared and I are parents now. Child-rearing and other parental responsibilities top the list of things we include in our respective energy budgets.
At this point, we’re lucky that our business is thriving amid uncertain times, and that we are earning enough to cover our needs (and some of our wants as well). Still, we feel pressured to earn a lot more because it’s the only way we can invest in things that would make our lives comfortable. For this to happen, we must push our enterprise toward growth. One guaranteed way we can do that is by funneling in more capital.
Many entrepreneurs increase their capital by taking out loans from banks or other lending agencies. But this carries a high degree of risk, especially if the borrower is not yet financially stable. Business is volatile in nature; one misfortune can lead to a cascade of losses. In the worst case, the lender may end up taking more than just the borrower’s earnings.
Another way to gain more funding is by actively seeking out investors. We have more hope in this, because we haven’t given up on the kindness of others, including complete strangers. But of course, realistically speaking, it’s easier for a business to attract the attention of venture capitalists if its concept is one of a kind, or if it satisfies people’s immediate needs. We’re not sure if we can place our business in any of those categories.
As small business owners whose assets are still limited, we may be able to work hard to get more money, but hard work and perseverance will only get us so far. Those who have more ready funds to invest, and greater access to other resources, will almost always have the advantage over us.
But all is not lost for us. Laura Huang, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, states that life isn’t fair — something that persons with disability know quite well. In the workplace, as in business, money, time, and connections often supersede hard work as a tool for attaining success. But we can still bank on our unique qualities that set us apart from other people and use them strategically to help people see that we matter. This is our competitive edge.
Jared and I believe that as persons with disability running a business, we have the ability to see and treat clients differently. At the end of the day, we just want to be treated like human beings. So, we hope to retain the human aspect of business through honest and lighthearted conversation, as one can expect from a mom and pop shop. Although it is difficult to keep this up as the business gets bigger, that will be our challenge.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.