To Survive a Downturn, You’ve Got to Redefine the ‘E’ in Entrepreneur


Every successful entrepreneur knows that it takes a significant amount of confidence to launch your very own business. But there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness—one which many entrepreneurs sadly fail to tow.


As an entrepreneur, you are the leader, the one boldly charging into an unknown frontier and launching a brand new endeavor. You must be strong and sure—like a steaming locomotive—right on track and super-focused on the path to success. But you have to be vigilant because if you allow your ego to overwhelm the journey, you may quickly derail the entire process.


Hence the conundrum: You need just that healthy dose of confidence (ego) to take the leap and launch your business, but you need to be able to be humble enough to remain malleable and adaptable. Specifically, you need to check your ego enough to allow you to stay open to taking feedback offered without losing your cool or your intense passion for the project.

I have a perfect metaphor for this, and it involves taking a trip down memory lane to include a beloved cartoon character: Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. I call this metaphor: “Keep Tigger’s Tail,” and it is a great example of exactly what I mean when I challenge all entrepreneurs to check the “evil” E (ego) at the door so that they can embrace a different “e”: Evolution.


This Tigger metaphor traces back to my time spent at my very first job. I was working as a network engineer at a small company. The CEO approached me and told me something that I’ve taken with me ever since into every endeavor. He said that he wanted to give me feedback but wanted to be careful because he did not want “to chop off Tigger’s tail.”


What did he mean by this exactly? Simply put: He did not want to completely crush my spirit en route to molding me into a better worker. He basically said: “Hey Tim, you’re bouncing around, doing this and that, and that’s what makes you Tigger.” (All of this is good, mind you, as it speaks to passion and energy and enthusiasm!) He then quickly added: “But I need you to modify some stuff, yet I don’t want to take that spirit away.”


This struck me—how important being moldable is—without losing what made you bold, confident, strong (and Tigger-esque!) in the first place. It’s the same thing with an entrepreneur. You have to have a certain amount of confidence and ego (spirit) to do something new and to go out there and really put yourself out there. But you also need to allow feedback for refinement’s sake. For that “e” of evolution to have room to grow and thrive.


As an entrepreneur, at least a successful one, your character—your very person—is always getting refined a little bit. This is where you must check that ego at the door, but never so much so that it’s allowed to chip away at your confident and enthusiastic spirit that fueled the fire to spur you forward in the first place.


Bottom Line: You must keep your Tigger alive. So check that evil (E)go at the door and fling wide the door that paves the way for evolution. Onward and upward, you fellow entrepreneurs.