Join the journey. I will be sharing more about my entrepreneurial journey as a French living in Shanghai for more than 10 years and running several projects and businesses while I am at it (between two trips !)
I arrived in Shanghai in 2006, and one of the most visible things I have been doing, has always been about bringing a targeted community together (around an industry, an origin, or some kind of interest,…). I believe that “everything that can be gathered and labelled make it easier to be “grabbed” when you need it”.
Due to a low barrier entry, lots of entrepreneurs in Shanghai were trying to get a piece of the China cake, but access to information and interactions were not that easy (no real smartphones yet, Facebook and Twitter were blocked quickly by the Great Firewall of China, no Meetup.com nor WeChat). Our goal was to ease everybody’s struggles by connecting people and building a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, ready to help each other and potentially do business together too.
We shared thousands of business cards, met thousands of people, and had countless litters of follow-up coffees with lots of them. It was great. And what we did matter to many business professionals. We were connecting people and building a community, but, to be fair, our business model was not even what we could call “broken”, it was worst.
Let’s put it that way : Do you remember when being an “entrepreneur” kind of meant being “broke” ? Well, … that was our market.
But money was not all. We were hustling enough to figure it out, but not enough to keep on going for many more years. Since it was our marketing tool of choice, when Facebook got blocked before the Beijing Olympics in 2008, we took a big hit. We had to build a proper newsletter and found a better way to monetise the whole thing.
But after 3 years we put the events on the side and went on to follow other paths.
In 2016, NextStep is back. Not to connect people though, but to educate people by organising series of workshops to help entrepreneurs to get better in an affordable way.
Persistence vs Resilience
I recently clearly realised something I kind of knew already. We should have kept on going and be persistent. Or better, we should have been more resilient.
“Persistence – Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition”
“Resilience – An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”
Few months ago, I came across the following video from Gary Vee (There is something I like when people have no-filters whatsoever, and he is one of them).
Gary is demonstrating what is a so-called “overnight success”. How he was persistent every single day with his Youtube “Wine Diary”, even though he didn’t have much views for the first 18 months or so (that’s over 500 episodes ! That’s persistence right ?).
And after organising a few dozens of workshops for ~300 students that I had to really go get, and work on the exposure etc… it was not easy and I naturally came to wonder if this was all worth it. But I understood that there was no other way. In order to make it, you kind of have to be among the ones standing last.
There are no overnight successes.
So, do you need “persistence” or “resilience” ?
Definitely both, you need to always stay afloat and it requires creativity and flexibility. By being resilient I developed other consulting services to answer pain points that were surfacing from the workshops, while still organising the workshops for them.
After the low summer break, coming back with a new line-up of workshops, followers and outsiders commented on my persistence on still being there (with 30 workshops in 6 months). They showed respect. And now, they are looking at it with a very different look.
Persistence brings respect and build your credibility.
The game is still the same for now and even though looking at “vanity numbers” can be misleading, I have one that I believe is proving me right. t’s the astonishing number of returning entrepreneurs attending the workshops who keep on spreading the word and inviting more people to attend, and I can only be very humble.
So basically, it is not easy, but still… it can be possible if you try long enough.
What are your Vanity Numbers ? What are those numbers for your business that help you keep on pushing ?