The Mythical Armour of the Entrepreneur

This post is for the hardcore nerds. You’ve been warned.

What’s the nerdiest possible thing you could do as a 12 year old? If you guessed spending your weekends indoors playing a fantasy role playing game called Dungeons and Dragons, then you are correct. And that’s exactly what I did. I spent countless hours dreaming up fictional worlds, trying to slay imaginary creatures and outsmart my friends to win a game that couldn’t be won.

It might seem like a complete waste of time, but I loved it. It also played such a critical role in strengthening the problem solving neurons in my brain. And there’s no question I remember my imaginary adventures from 20 years ago way better than I remember any of the subject matter from elementary school.

One of the coolest treasures we discovered was a magical armour made of diamonds. As you know, diamonds are one of the hardest known substances, so this armour pretty much made you invincible. Fancy weapons and spells are nice, but if nothing can hit you, you’re in pretty good shape.

Entrepreneurs Need Armour

There is nothing easy about entrepreneurship. You trying to build things that have never been built before. You have unlimited obstacles in your way and things that are going to try to stop you. That why as entrepreneurs we need incredibly powerful armour that we can rely on during any situation.

I’ve been testing, improving and strengthening my entrepreneurial armour for years. It’s nowhere near the diamond armour status, but it’s a lot thicker than the cloth robes I started with when I first left the corporate world.

Building Your Armour Piece by Piece

So the question then becomes: how does one strengthening their armour? The answer is very simple — piece by piece, day by day.

You build your skills, competencies and experiences, and each time you do your armour gets a little thicker. Every time you overcome an obstacle, every time you have a difficult conversation, deal with a frustrated customer, learn a new skill or improve an existing one, your armour gets a little tougher. And then the next time someone takes a swing at you, it’s going to be a little tougher for them to hit you.

As I’ve been building my armour over the years, I think of myself adding a little +1 to my armour every time I struggle through something or learn a new marketing technique or create a new product design or close a sale. It all adds up if you’re paying attention.

Why Do Entrepreneurs Need Armour

The purpose of your entrepreneurial armour is simple: to make you comfortable in whatever situation you encounter. To know that someone or something is going to take their best shot at you and you’ll be able to dodge or deflect or at the very least avoid a critical blow.

I think about some of the top entrepreneurs and VCs today. Their armour has been battle tested so many times that it becomes part of their body. They don’t even know it’s there and neither does an outside observer. Then you watch them handle a difficult question or provide advice on a particularly tricky situation, and you can truly appreciate how thick their armour really is.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, I am always trying to improve. It took a while to make the mental shift, but I look at all of my experiences (good and bad) as a way to make me become a better entrepreneur. I try to learn something new every day and use it to thicken my armour just a little bit more than it was the day before.