by Benji Coetzee, founder of EmptyTrips
I've witnessed animals outcasting one of their own, and today, I can appreciate being outright rejected too, a lone wolf. I am broke, skinny, pale, sleep deprived, fighting with loved ones, neglected and maybe delusional.
"Entrepreneur", the infamous word that the media glamorize via countless multi-million-dollar venture capital articles, or glossy magazine covers of “self-made” millionaires that lay displayed for admiration in office reception areas… Admittedly, I fell for it, I wanted to be part of the mysterious Entrepreneur Wolfpack too.
By virtue of my delusional journey to launch, and fund, a supernova disruptive tech platform (EmptyTrips) in Africa, I wanted to share five truths about the reality of giving up your 8 - 5 "sheep" life to join the Entrepreneur Wolfpack. Stepping away from a stable and impressive LinkedIn career history, a monthly steady paycheck, and the daily “sheep following” grime, I aimed to be accepted by the self-appointed CEO club.You might be considering it too. It might not be for you, but, if you are a "wolf dressed in sheeps' clothing" - then hear me out.
5 realities of joining the Entrepreneur Wolfpack
1. You will find yourself hunting
Similar to wolves, you hunt constantly. You thrive off the few that indulge your ambitions at parties, you will use lingo that no one really understands so they stare at you with adoration or confusion. Friends will start avoiding you, because you are exhausting, or never pay the bill. You chase acceptance, validation, clients, recognition, cash and a latte.
2. Your lows are SUPER lonely
Some days you will trot like the alpha dog out of corporate boardrooms; air-fist punching like Rocky Balboa. You will marvel during this “high”, securing your rank and mental strength knowing that your business case rocks, you rock and your team s*#!s rainbows. You get 100’s of likes on your social posts, and you are just thriving. Well done puppy.
Then, reality of an extended funding raise process, corporate clients’ bureaucratic snail-paced timelines and daily burn of salaries and expenses hits. Sadly, this is when you realise that you TOTALLY UNDER BUDGETED for the unexpected and you are screwed. Who would have thought that building Rome, or a supernova company is not built in a day, and that “bootstrapping” was such a nice fallacy. You will learn that you need to be able to survive in the mountains alone.
3. You will get fatigued
Surprisingly, even though you think you are a wolf, your body is not a invincible (apparently). But inherent survival-driven determination to avoid losing everything, and unfailing positivity (or a level crazy) will be needed daily. Unfortunately, liters of coffee, paired with time sensitive deadlines and impatient clients, will lead to tested tempers and a skinny persons’ personality (jokes I still have one). So, you challenge those within your own pack about irrelevant things to show rank, you show your teeth in aggression and you will swear like a seabed mining sailor, because you simply are inherently exhausted. Mentally, emotionally, financially and physically.
4. You will always be on guard (fright and flight mode)
I cannot remember a day without constantly checking my phone or stampeding through emails. Be a week day, weekend or public holiday. "Off" days will be seen as an admin day to catch-up on the flagged emails that never got done. Secondly, your "first mover" advantage can be lost (i.e. loss of rank) gradually or suddenly. This keeps you on guard tirelessly, scouring the internet watching competitive moves of opponents to secure your place in the pack.
5. You will get rejected
Becoming an entrepreneur needs grit. Say goodbye to luxuries that you took for granted when you were sober (employed). You will drive the same car for a decade (if you haven’t pawned it for the business), you won’t be able to plan your wedding because you are broke, bottom of the pack, the "omega". You definitely will not be able to secure a mortgage for that humble home you loved for at least 3 years - even with your hot business, two masters degrees, committed personality and that YOU CREATE EMPLOYMENT (F'u local banks - you know who you are!). Rejection is a daily meal, deal with it, let the anger go and accept the constant rejection. You are not the Alpha (yet).
I’m not sure if you think the above sounds fun, but I doubt my decision at times to leave corporate comforts. Be careful before leaving the flock to join the pack of wolves.
I miss the stability, the prestige of a big firm and a clear list of responsibilities. My dark circles are darker, my wrinkles are deeper, my clothes fit loser and my bank account is red-lining. Yet, with all this said, I still wake-up at 5 am with a lust for life, more so now than ever. I have grown in many ways, and I more humbly recognise my shortcomings. I am not fully part of the Wolfpack just yet, but I am slowly easing my way toward it. I see a business coach to manage my temper and “crazy”, and I try moderate the highs and the lows with mindfulness. I focus on surviving 1 day at a time, just like a wolf does in the cold mountains. I celebrate the smallest of wins and I remain territorial to my passion.
So, in summary, I am an entrepreneur wolfpack wannabe. It's still lonely out here, but I'm definitely not a sheep.
Benji Coetzee is the founder of EmptyTrips, an online exchange that uses algorithmic directional capacity matching paired with competitive digital auction rooms connecting transporters, brokers and cargo owners. The platform aims to reduce inefficiency of empty vehicles (trucks, trains, planes and vessels) thereby offering increases in asset yield (utilization), lower transport costs and reduced carbon emissions. The platform offers financial add-on products such as digital cargo insurance, and is currently developing a carbon credit calculator.
More at www.benjinc.com