Being an entrepreneur requires a nearly invincible resolve to succeed. It mandates motivation and necessitates perpetual resilience. With nearly insurmountable obstacles around every corner and failure forever looming, how do entrepreneurs keep pushing? How do they keep moving forward? It’s simple—they have to.
They are vulnerable. They are risking it all, and if they fail, they lose it all. Vulnerability and the consequences of failure drive these men and women to succeed. Taking risks, a vital aspect of entrepreneurship, inherently makes you vulnerable. Think about it—to start your own company, you need to quit your job (most of the time). When you no longer have the stability of a biweekly paycheck, you realize that your company is your livelihood.
When you stand in front of investors and passionately pitch your business, social insecurities and second thoughts on whether or not you can run a thriving business fall by the wayside because there is no turning back. Necessity is the mother of invention, and vulnerability precedes, creates, and cultivates necessity.
Yet, vulnerability is not just confined to a company’s early stages. In actuality, it is paramount across all stages of growth because it encourages innovation, and innovation is required for companies to retain their competitive advantage. When entrepreneurs display vulnerability in front of their employees, they are encouraging them to do the same. By pursuing new ideas that both fail and succeed, entrepreneurs are communicating to their workers that it’s okay to bring new ideas to the table, even if they fail.
If a workplace fosters an open-dialogue through clear displays of vulnerability, employees will not just contribute ideas for the sake of contribution and office persona, but they will want to contribute because they will feel their voice is being heard. This will, in turn, breed an atmosphere of mutual responsibility. The company will cease being just the entrepreneur’s project. It will become a shared enterprise where everyone involved has a say. Employees will not just be invested in their personal success. They will be immersed in the company’s success, and if they are able to influence that with new ideas, they will do so because they will care about the company’s well-being. However, vulnerability can also help a business outside of its office walls.
Many times, potential investors, clients and partners are interested in the person behind a product, and not the product itself. If an entrepreneur is willing to truly put it all on the line in order to succeed, that is evidence of a clear ambition to succeed. This is someone an investor can get behind, someone who will really do anything and everything they can to create something out of nothing. That’s an emotional connection many investors do not just sympathize with, but empathize with. They went through it. They remember sleeping in their car. They remember sacrificing rent money for inventory. They remember being scared, unsure, and vulnerable. And they remember succeeding after going through it all.
Just because there is a popular negative connotation to vulnerability does not mean it is a bad thing. Vulnerability inspires us. It betters us. Vulnerability, as paradoxical as it may sound, protects us. It protects our will to win.