In 2022, Stop Being in Competition With Your Friends

We made it to the end of the year, 52 straight weeks of this blog. I’m extremely excited and proud of myself. I have a lot on my mind as the days and weeks go by and I know that a lot of people don’t have an outlet to express themselves. I’m grateful to be able to find mine through this platform. I’m grateful to be able to talk to the people who identify with me the most, and that is entrepreneurs, especially beginners. No matter how far I’ve come as an entrepreneur, some days, it feels as though I just got started all over again and because of this, I’m so connected with these individuals. I wanted to keep giving out the motivation, giving out the inspiration, giving out some jewels and tips throughout the course of 2021, to make sure that people that decide to take one of the hardest steps you can ever take in your life have some guidance.

This blog is probably one of the most important ones outside of the first blog that I did. However, I really want us to focus. When we are dealing with entrepreneurship, a lot of times, it’s dealing with ideas that are larger than life. All we can think about is how to get to the end of that vision while you were sleeping, daydreaming, or something you saw on television. The only thing you’re thinking about is if you’re doing this the right way in order to bring it to fruition. I want you guys to think strongly not just about the end goal, but the path that you have to take to get to your end goal.

We have to play this sport correctly. Every professional sport has rules. As the years go by, they start to make sense. Without rules, it goes back to being somewhat of the wild, wild west, and we don’t want that. We want this to have rules. We want it to be filled with codes and things that people need to live by, especially those that call themselves entrepreneurs. One of those things I would like to focus on today is not being in competition with your friends.

Here is a fun fact, one out of every five friends is probably gonna be an entrepreneur because it just works that way. I know you probably could have been waiting on me to say something a little bit more profound. If you’re counting, then that’s 20 or 25% of the people in that group. It’s not saying that everybody in that group might not end up being an entrepreneur, one person might be a lawyer, one friend can become a nurse, and another, an accountant. The entrepreneur in the group may feel like they have a better idea.

And the people with jobs and careers are going to be looking at you like you’re crazy because you’re always talking about your ideas and how you’re going to make it. The people with the jobs and the careers are going to be the ones that you will be borrowing money from. You are going to aggravate them at lunch by talking about your idea and grand plans.

However, the vision wasn’t brought to them, it was brought to you. It’s all you can talk about because you’ve been caught up and convicted by this idea. Now you started the idea and made it into a business and you’re trying to get to the place you envisioned in your dream, daydream, or something you may have seen on television. The people around you can’t see any of this until the moment of truth arrives and you become successful actually doing the things you said you would do. You’re actually growing. You’re not borrowing money anymore. You’ve become the person that can possibly loan money to individuals and as a result, some of your friends are bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.

This is awesome because we always need more. While their decision should be celebrated, it’s not right or fair for them to be in competition with you. It’s not fair to watch this person put their blood, sweat, and tears into this business and then you turn around and try to do the exact same thing that person did. That is wrong. Now, is there a guidebook somewhere that has this written in it? No, I’m saying this. I feel this. I feel it strongly because a lot of times this is what we do. This is what messes up the entrepreneurial ecosystem because the person that should be there helping that entrepreneur, or becoming an entrepreneur with a business that compliments the other person, they actually get in and start doing the exact same thing. Ultimately, they start taking from that individual and start being in competition with that person.

Some people get used to that person being in a space where they’re asking for help, or they need to borrow money. They seem like they’re talking about a pipe dream and you find out that everything they said wasn’t a pipe dream. You couldn’t see the vision. They were watering a Chinese bamboo tree. If you don’t know, it takes five years for a Chinese bamboo tree to grow. The first couple of years you don’t see anything. The person watering it looks like a weirdo because nothing is coming out of it. This is what it looks like during entrepreneurship. You have your friends and you have your family. Everybody is sitting around you, and they have gotten used to you being in that space. It becomes commonplace for them and comfortable.

Once you get past that point, the friends are not comfortable anymore. My advice is to start when you’re not comfortable and do erratic and sporadic things. One of the things that happen to entrepreneurs is that their friends and the people around them immediately jump into competition mode. They start saying that they wanna withhold information from them. Maybe they were willing to help before. Now that they’re at a certain point, they’re not willing to help. Maybe the help that is needed now is not financial anymore. Maybe it’s speaking a word, praying for them, or giving a referral. Instead of you doing something to compliment them so that you guys can grow together, you get into direct competition with your friends.

This goes double for my people in the minority community. You have to start understanding, having a real true reason, other than trying to, “keep up with the Joneses,” of why you are going into entrepreneurship. I do whatever I want to do, as long as it doesn’t negatively affect someone else. What I want you to consider is that your friend has stepped out, taken all of the risks, taken all of the ridicule, and put everything on the line.

They’re going to go through their own stressors. They’re going to lose hair faster than you. They’re going to lose weight, or their weight will fluctuate. They’re going to be stressing a whole lot more than you are. They’re going to be putting it all on the line. It’s not fair for you to trivialize that by your actions and then go into competition with them. The truth of the matter is neither one of y’all will come out as winners. I want us to win in 2022. And how better can we win besides working together?

First, salute the entrepreneur that’s in your group that took the time to jump out there without any help. You can say go ahead. That a boy! That a girl! Salute him or her. And then once you get bit by the bug, they should utilize you.

Don’t misuse them. Use them properly. Go and get guidance from them. Don’t do anything behind their back. Give them an opportunity to teach you because it will allow them to grow. Nobody gains more knowledge than a teacher. If they are already a practitioner and then they get a chance to grow and elevate to being a teacher, they’re going to be way better. At the same time, you are going to get a lot of information and you’re going to skip a lot of bumps and bruises. They are going to make sure that you have it a lot easier than they had.

2022 is right on the horizon. Let’s make it a trend to work together and not separately. The truth of the matter is we will get further together than we ever will apart. There’s a lot for us to do. There will be a lot of opportunities. Since a new year is coming with that many opportunities, you definitely don’t have to take away anybody else’s, you can find your own and allow your friends to help.

Happy New Year to you guys. I’m looking forward to keeping the ball rolling and being right in your business corner in 2022.

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J Haleem Washington

Jamar “J Haleem” Washington is an author, business coach, corporate trainer & education success, advocate.