Society tells us that success in life is characterised by good grades and a high paying job working for someone else. Early on in my life, I somehow knew this was not the path for me…
I’ve been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. From as early as twelve years old, I sold lollies, cold drinks, miniature skateboards, trading game cards and homemade beef jerky to students at my high school. When I was sixteen, I made one of the best decisions for my career as an entrepreneur; I took up painting as a subject.
At the time, I took it up because I thought I could get good marks whilst putting in little to no effort. Big mistake...Painting turned out to be my hardest but most rewarding subject. It taught me the importance of vision, experimentation and self-belief.
Here is how:
1. Successful Ventures Start with a vision
In my final year of high school, I decided to paint a self-portrait. Born in Zimbabwe, I moved to Australia 12 years ago. As a result, both places have heavily influenced who I am today. I wanted this piece to represent the coming together of both cultures. The right side would represent my cultural roots and the left would represent my Australian upbringing - this was my vision.
Like a startup business, a painting requires a vision that acts as a guiding stick. Without a vision, the painting has no clear direction. And like a startup business with no vision, ultimately it will fail.
2. Experimentation is a Key Part of the Process
There is a lot of experimentation involved when painting. This is due to the many colours, brushes and materials available. Mid-way through my self-portrait, I remember feeling extremely anxious when my teacher told me the piece was “too plain" and that I needed to experiment with different colours. I knew exactly what she was talking about; I was simply playing it safe. But safe is good right? Wrong. Being safe is the most commonly travelled road to mediocrity.
"An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose" - Langston Hughes.
Most people are scared to experiment because experimenting has an element of risk - unfortunately, the majority of us react negatively this. An entrepreneur must however ignore this reaction. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must experiment with different product offerings, different customer groups and different target markets in order to find a formula that works.
3. Confidence is Everything
Here is the result of my experimentation. I like to think it went pretty well (I got an A-). Experimenting with this piece really showed me what I could achieve by being confident in my abilities. As an entrepreneur, confidence is your ticket to securing a deal, signing on a channel partner or receiving investment. You cannot put a price on confidence because it’s invaluable.
Through painting, I now understand the importance of a vision and experimenting. Looking back, I see my painting class as a defining moment in my life due to the immense confidence I gained. This is why I believe painting is a must for every entrepreneur.
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