We’ve all heard this age-old quote about taking a risk, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, and overcoming adversity to find success and a more fulfilling life. Though most of us will never quite understand the magnitude of Helen Keller’s challenges, we can find solace in the fact that many who have come before us have persevered through monumental difficulties and found both the journey and the destination rewarding.
For soon-to-be entrepreneurs, taking a risk and pursuing a passion in lieu of leading a more stable, corporate lifestyle can be a daunting task. Taking a leap of faith, as Keller alludes to, may take a lot of courage, but it makes life all the more worthwhile. Sometimes these risks lead to big wins, and other times to crushing failure, but the common theme is the immense opportunity to learn from these experiences and lead more impactful and meaningful lives.
That’s exactly what inspired StartUp StorySlam, a storytelling platform for entrepreneurs to share learnings and lessons from their experiences starting their own businesses. This month, StartUp StorySlam hosted its inaugural DC event at MakeOffices Dupont, featuring entrepreneurs with inspiring stories on the theme of “Why?” Why do entrepreneurs take the leap of faith to start their own business and solve business problems on their own? Why choose a risky venture over the stability of a corporate job? The path won’t always be easy, and it will almost always be scary, but here’s why taking a chance and pursuing a dream is worth it:
By pursuing a passion, you can make a real impact
It’s rare that someone stuck in a dead-end office job feels motivated enough to go above and beyond the call of duty – even if a raise or bonus is in jeopardy. More and more people are taking matters into their own hands by defining their own paths and choosing passion over a higher paycheck.
If you’re tackling a problem you are passionate about, chances are you’ll have the energy, drive, and inspiration needed to succeed as an entrepreneur. This sentiment is illustrated in the life of Marcus Bullock, DC’s first StartUp StorySlam winner and founder of Flickshop, a photo-sharing app that help inmates stay connected to friends and family through mailed postcards. Bullock was incarcerated as a teen, and was able to endure eight years in prison and re-enter the community because of the photographs and letters his family shared during their visits. Realizing that many other inmates have no way of receiving updates in prison (there is no internet or cell phone access), Bullock founded Flickshop to help them connect with family and friends. Using the app, family members can upload photos and messages, and Flickshop will send a postcard straight to any prison within 2-3 days. Bullock’s app makes photo sharing that was once impossible a reality for inmates and their families, ultimately bringing happiness to those who need it most.
In his full story , Bullock shares how his past gave him the passion and motivation to help inmates adjust to life in prison. Why start Flickshop? “I did 8 years in prison and I know how important pictures and mail are to family members all across the country,” Bullock muses. Not only does Bullock help current inmates, his organization Bring in the Communitysupports local charity groups working to help former inmates re-enter the community.
Find something you’re passionate about, even if it doesn’t necessarily relate to a major aspect or milestone of your life. You’ll be able to approach each day with excitement, energy and perhaps solve a problem that has always been bugging you or help people who have a similar experience.
By not taking a risk, you risk living an unfulfilling life
It’s easy to coast through life and never know the amazing things you could achieve; being willing to endure sometimes stormy seas of following a passion project will not be easy, but can lead to rewards beyond what smooth sailing can provide. If you’re considering starting a business, it probably means you won’t want to be confined to a traditional, corporate lifestyle your entire life. With friends’ lives constantly on display on social media, we can easily fall into the damaging routine of wishing that we too had the courage to pursue a project that adds value to society. Rather than spending your days wondering what could have been, why not discover it for yourself?
And you can always start off as a side project
If starting your own business isn’t financially feasible right now, you can always keep your day job and keep a side project going for when you’re ready to fully commit. There are many successful startups and well-known, established companies (think: Craigslist, Papa John’s, Chipotle, Harley Davidson, Yankee Candle) that started as side projects. These companies are wildly different in terms of the goods and services they provide, but were all started by extremely driven founders who, when faced with a problem or need, decided to tackle the challenge head-on.
This Inc. article 0features the stories of the founders of the five companies listed above, from humble beginnings to multi-billion-dollar behemoths.
Pursuing a passion project will be difficult, but it’ll always be more rewarding in the long run. Make your life’s work a daring journey and take that leap of faith, that bold plunge – whatever you want to call it – to make a real difference.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller