The Esendemir Sisters Answer: What is an entrepreneur?
When Inc. Magazine’s Trep Life web series approached us about doing a behind-the-scenes profile piece on our entrepreneurial story, we were both flattered and nervous. We were nervous because we had been anonymously hiding behind our restaurant concept, Flatbread Grill, for a good seven years and saying yes to this amazing opportunity would no longer allow us that anonymity. We had to finally come out into the light and embrace our entrepreneurial journey, while willingly sharing our start-up story to a potential audience of a few thousand people, most of them entrepreneurs themselves. The opportunity to be a part of such a prestigious and well-respected business publication also got us thinking hard about what it truly means to be an entrepreneur, and whether or not we were worthy to call ourselves entrepreneurs.
We began asking ourselves: what makes someone an entrepreneur versus a small business owner? Who are all these entrepreneurs taking over the world, building multimillion (and billion) dollar companies that are changing the way we live? And where did we come from anyway? Can we be defined? And why the hek do we all seem so unassuming until the day our success is unveiled and we are thrust into the spotlight- then, suddenly, we seem larger than life? What EXACTLY is an entrepreneur? Though we can’t speak for entrepreneurs everywhere, we can share with you what we believe makes us, the Esendemir (a-send-a-meer) Sisters, entrepreneurs and why we are now proud to be defined as such.
We are entrepreneurs because we work hard day in and day out, toiling away to bring our grand vision to the masses in the hopes that we can improve their lives and make it just a little bit better. We hustle until the edge of exhaustion and we grind like our lives depend on it, because for us- it does. We wake up almost everyday not knowing what to expect, but knowing what we want to accomplish. We go through so many ups and downs that our lives can resemble a turbulent roller coaster one day, and then a freight train coming off the tracks the next day. We entrepreneurs don’t know what smooth sailing means or even what it feels like. We are always moving at over 100mph, with no braking or stopping in sight. We give all of ourselves to our vision and we make tremendous personal sacrifices for that vision. We go bravely and boldly after what we want even when we are truly scared to death. We take the good and the bad and try to figure out how to make it all profitable. We take risks and we make mistakes, but we get back up and we keep it moving. We keep our eyes on the prize, all the while, never losing sight of our values or our integrity. We get rejected, criticized and we are all severely misunderstood, but we keep going. We don’t stop and listen to the noise too long. We believe in ourselves even when no one else does. We lose friends and our success isolate us and make us feel like we don’t belong- but that’s okay. We build our own world and then, we invite others into it and offer them an experience or a product that is so memorable, they keep coming back for more. We create to share and impact lives, not just for profits.
We entrepreneurs walk a fine line between sanity and madness. Our ambitions keep us awake. Challenges motivate us to keep going. We fight our way through obstacle after obstacle, refusing to admit defeat at any turn. We are entrepreneurs because we fight and we don’t stop fighting for our dreams. Unanswered questions gnaw at us day in and day out. We are constantly asking ourselves: how can we be better? How can we improve? We don’t get any sleep. Most of us are insomniacs. We can’t turn off our brains. The motor is always running. We get kicked down and we mope for a hot second, but then we get back up and find another way, this time, with more resolve. We have numerous doors slammed in our faces, so we go and build our own bridge or find another way. We take things in stride when the world is watching, but we fall apart behind closed doors. We are brave and we are naive. We believe we can change the world somehow and make a permanent dent in the universe. We are foolish and we are smart. We struggle and we become better because of it, not bitter. We can see things no one else has the courage to see. We seem invincible to others, but that’s only because we have mastered the art of keeping it together under pressure while the world is watching. We are burning up inside and nothing and no one can put that fire out. We are restless and dedicated. We are hardcore obsessed with excellence and execution. It’s all or nothing for us entrepreneurs. We can’t half-ass it. We can’t half-ass anything. We are committed to change and innovation. We drive ourselves forward in even the darkest times because within us is some deep-rooted source of self-motivation no one else could ever understand. We don’t give up because we don’t know how to quit, no matter how bad circumstances get. When things aren’t working out, we find a way to turn things around and make it better. We refuse to take things at face value. There is always more to any story. We are entrepreneurs because we always want to be more and achieve more. We live for the breakthroughs, and the thrill that comes with unlocking them.
We make our success look easy, but we forever carry the secret knowledge of what it truly took to become what the world now sees. We cover up our bruises and we patch up our wounds before anyone sees the pain. We toil away in obscurity waiting for our time to shine and when the moment comes, we are already on to our next venture, trying to figure out how we can do it all over again. We maintain our humanity and dignity through it all and when people ask us how we did it, we smile and say: hard work, dedication, and persistence. We entrepreneurs know that the true key to our success cannot be quantified with hard data, metrics or even analytics. We humbly applaud ourselves for overcoming all the difficulties and for never giving up. We are entrepreneurs because we choose to give it everything we’ve got even while people mock and criticize us and friends and family tell us to give it up already. Our vision is everything to us. We do not walk away from it, ever.
We are entrepreneurs because we see a way to make the world better. We constantly seek a way to improve the lives of everyone around us. We keep going, no matter how tough things get. We keep working, building, collapsing and picking up the pieces again and again. It’s hardly just for the money. The money never comes right away. We do it because there is a force within us propelling us forward to embrace new challenges, to rise up and overcome the mounting obstacles. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel no matter how dark the tunnel is while we are working. Maybe we entrepreneurs have something to prove. Maybe we don’t. At the end of the day all that matters is- we did it our way and on our own terms. We built something that can positively impact the lives of others and yes, we lost a huge part of ourselves in the process, but what we gain cannot be deposited into a bank. And that’s the true definition of being an entrepreneur: creating something that will live on far after you are gone.