I’m an introvert. For me, the lockdown served as a wonderful opportunity to perform my tasks with an intense focus and work on new strategies. Putting business matters aside, I also finally had spare time to catch up on the movies and books on my list.
One book I read during my lovely lockdown was The 40 Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. Released in 2010, the book is now a best seller in Turkey and one of the 100 most influential novels listed by the BBC.
The book narrates the story of Rumi, the great 13th-century Persian poet, and his companion, Shams Tabrizi. There is also a parallel story of a couple in the United States in 2008. The author relates these two stories artistically and recounts the rules of love.
The 40 Rules of Love encompasses love and romantic events, as well as the philosophy of existence, mysticism and social foundations. But as I read, I noticed that lessons reach even beyond love and mysticism, all the way to entrepreneurship. Here are five lessons that apply to entrepreneurship from The 40 Rules of Love.
1. Never give up
“Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighborhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied.” — Rule No. 7 of love
“Never give up” is probably the expression that successful entrepreneurs use most. It is ubiquitous in business books and motivational speeches. The real face of entrepreneurship is not as gentle as you might think, and it can grind weak people to dust. This is a game for tough folks only.
As a founder, you will go through difficult times, and it takes a great deal of sacrifice to establish your business in the market. However, even in the darkest times, you can find a gleam of hope to motivate you not to quit. The ability to endure hardships and surmount hurdles is a quality that distinguishes great entrepreneurs from their broken counterparts.
2. Make connections
“Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing that you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without feeling lonely. But eventually it is the best to find a person who will be your mirror. Remember only in another person’s heart can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you.” — Rule No. 6 of love
Success doesn’t occur in a vacuum. All successful entrepreneurs have great connections. Networking is an essential skill in business development and offers you the opportunity to maintain professional relationships with other great people in your area.
Through healthy networking, you can find outstanding people who can provide you with professional guidance in difficult times, as well as help you make rational decisions when everything appears to be hopeless. Receiving meaningful insights, exchanging ideas and increasing your brand’s visibility are some key benefits of business networking.
3. Be patient but not passive
“Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to look at the end of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome.” — Rule No. 8 of love
As an entrepreneur, you must accept the fact that no success happens overnight. Some billion-dollar brands have waited more than three decades to reach their current growth, and it simply occurs through strategic patience. Entrepreneurship is a long journey and this may frustrate many newcomers. A long-term commitment is key for success.
Of course, patience is important, but that’s not what this is all about. I said strategic patience, which means patience accompanied by active foresight. While you have done your part and are waiting to see the outcome, you need to predict future opportunities proactively to remain well-prepared. Great entrepreneurs have a clear and complete picture of the future.
4. Be flexible in the face of change
“Try not to resist the changes, which come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” — Rule No. 13 of love
The business environment is in flux and further advancements have accelerated the speed of changes. You can’t stick to your initial plans and expect huge growth when your strategies are outdated and can’t keep pace with the current flow of business. During various growth stages, changes are essential and resisting them may hamper business development.
Flexibility allows you to respond to change and be the master of it, not the victim. Making adjustments paves the way to predicting the future actively and prevents stagnation. Just remove what’s unnecessary and add what is needed. As Rumi said, “Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.”
5. Take that first step
“Fret not where the road will take you. Instead concentrate on the first step. That is the hardest part and that is what you are responsible for. Once you take that step, let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow. Don’t go with the flow. Be the flow.” — Rule No. 19 of love
When you are starting a new business, everything looks dark and strange before you take the first step. Once you face your fears and begin, the lights come on and the road becomes visible.
Unstable economic conditions have increased people’s fears around starting a new business, but you need to take the plunge, make necessary changes and never ever give up during hardships. As you go along, the fears disappear and your business finds its own flow.