The Culture Shock of Entrepreneurship

It boggles my mind when I read about an entrepreneur who is working on their 7th or 8th business. HOW do they just start a new business? They make it sound so easy, like it’s just another box to be checked on the task list for the day:

  • Go to grocery store.
  • Get a haircut.
  • Start a new business.

It’s overwhelming to me to think about what all must be involved in starting a business.

Then it occurred to me: Entrepreneurship is a type of culture! Much like being in a foreign country, there is a set of customs and norms that go along with that culture. There is a mindset, an attitude, and a “lingo” (or even just a dialect) that identifies that culture. And when you are a tourist in that culture, not only do you stand-out, but the behavior of the natives (or locals) often causes some head-scratching—behavior related to ideas, activities and traditions that they take for-granted and that come naturally to them. Like eating certain foods. Or starting another business.

And so, if the tourist wants to become more like the native, he/she needs to immerse himself fully into that culture. And the deeper the immersion, the faster the assimilation. How is this accomplished? Do you aspire to be an entrepreneur? If so, then it seems to me that similar to learning any other culture, there are three primary methods in order to assimilate into the culture of entrepreneurship:

  1. Association—the most basic step is to be around the natives as much as possible. Observe behaviors and practices. Attend the rituals and events. Listen to the language. Learn the customs.
  2. Education—Read books and listen to recordings of both the natives and the observers, to learn its history, evolution, current state and future outlook.
  3. Participation—practice the language and behaviors until they become a natural part of you. And until the next tourist can’t distinguish you from the rest of the natives.

I aspire to be an entrepreneur and am trying to engage more in each of these areas in the entrepreneurial culture. I feel like a tourist most of the time, but I also know I’m making progress. How about you? What has helped you the most in “assimilating” into the Culture of Entrepreneurship?


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