4 Reasons Why Writing Challenges Is A Good Preparation For Launching Your Startup

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I’m participating in a writing challenge and building a business at the same time. And other stuff, like raising a family. Some days, it’s a little much, and yet, I deliberately started one during the other. I would chalk it up to my Gemini tendency to actively pursue two things at the same time. By nature, I prefer the process of plowing headlong in one direction and then, when I need to come up for air, switching gears entirely. It provides a valuable brain break but also offers an opportunity to see connections that I wouldn’t have otherwise made.

But last year, I read an article about Elon Musk’s learning style that resonates and provides validity for my process. Musk is an “expert generalist” which basically means a Jack of All Trades in that he studies widely in many different fields, understands deeper principles that connect those fields, and then applies the principles to their core specialty.

It also resonates because it’s one of my entrepreneurial whys. Everyone has a why — it’s your purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you. Identifying yours is a necessary part of your journey as it will give you the fuel to endure.

When contemplating my entrepreneurial why, it helped to reflect on aspects of my corporate life that were unsatisfying. One I kept coming back to was the more promotions I earned, the more focused I was encouraged to become, to stay in my lane. For me, it felt like tunnel vision on the best days and being trapped in traffic in a tunnel on the worst. I wanted to expand. Building my own company gives me a chance to do that, to tackle a much wider range of roles and responsibilities.

And because I’ve been pursuing writing and entrepreneurship at the same time, it’s starting to feel relevant to my journey that I’m doing them together. They’ve become intertwined for me and here’s why:

First, at a practical level, we write what we know, and we invent what we need. Right? Over time and with experience, I think we can get to a point where we prioritize others needs, but fundamentally, and for better or worse, we understand and appreciate our own experience first.

We always begin with the thing we are seeking. — Cheryl Strayed

Second, writing is vulnerability and entrepreneurship is deeply personal. I dare you to try either without trepidation, self-doubt, or some sort of confidence crisis bubbling up. That’s why a writing challenge is different than just writing. Yes, both perfect the craft, but when you must publish too, you learn to deal with the fear of putting yourself out there, letting others get a glimpse inside your head, of being judged. In that same way, building a business means actually presenting your idea to the world, leading a company the way you think is best, spending your time and resources in a way that represents your values, acting from your vision, achieving your mission, and owning all of it, product, service, employees, customers, clients, results, and outcome. Ownership and vulnerability are intense…and powerful.

Third, both require envisioning and practice, discipline and creativity. A product/service or book/post is meant to solve a problem for someone, your target audience or desired customer, but in both cases, it’s an immersive process that means transforming an intangible into a tangible. You must be deeply invested, see it in your mind, then on paper, and eventually in the real world, for it to be significant for others. The only way to create something out of nothing is to do something and see where it takes you, and seeing yourself do it is critical to continuing to do it. Doing it every day is the only way to improve and iterate.

Finally, Stanford Professor Tina Seelig says that entrepreneurship can be taught, learned, and practiced through a rigorous approach that she calls the Invention Cycle, which can be applied to both writing and entrepreneurship. The Invention Cycle is a virtuous circle model that defines the relationships between imagination, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and captures the attitudes and actions that are necessary at each step. I appreciate the simplicity of the idea that learning and practice can make me a better writer and a better entrepreneur. Both seem a little less daunting from that vantage point.

Hope this helped and if you are also pursuing writing and entrepreneurship , I’d love to hear from you!

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