Why Your “Being” as an Entrepreneur Matters

Belicia T. Tan
3 min readMar 31, 2023

We’ll always encounter people who have ignorant based criticism to give. Often, it comes from a place of selfishness, but we often take it personally and let it get to us more than it really needs to.

Especially in an environment as an early stage startup, you work so intimately with your team, that everything you work on becomes so personal to you, that anytime someone deems it as not good, or questions the feasibility of it, it becomes easy for those statements to become a tear to the heart and ultimately, hurtful to our egos.

But if anything that I’ve learned to be important, while working in a rigorous, yet relationally intimate environment, is finding my security in who I know myself to be, not what others perceive me as.

You get so much ownership working as Founding members of a startup. You quite literally own an entire function and team, meaning you quite literally dictate the direction of it, manage the direction of it and own the success of it. Daunting, but so rewarding.

At that level of ownership, comes an immense burden of criticism, failure and pushback. Inevitably, with depth of responsiblity, can come depth of burden. And often times those burdens become chips we carry on our shoulders longer and harder than we should, they become definitive to who we are and what we think we’re capable or not capable of doing.

Worst is when your teammate disagrees with how you are leading your one man team, and decides to lead your one man team for you, and do what you are doing, in a way that they think is better, it can become so detrimental to the value we see in what we can offer. It can often speak to the competency or the lack of, that we see in ourselves.

If there’s anything that I could take away from perpetual feelings as such during my time at a startup, it’s that we will never not dissapoint the people around us, we will never not, not meet expectations and we certainly will not always gain the favor of everyone. But, what’s important is that we remain confident and steadfast in who we know ourselves to be — that doesn’t imply having to be right in situations where feedback could actually be helpful to us in identifying where we can improve, but it’s knowing that we never should have to prove ourselves to anyone around us, whether through the work we deliver or who we know ourselves to be as a friend, teammate etc.

Having to prove ourselves in a way is ultimately like saying that we have to show forth who we are in order to be seen, but why should that be the case, when we can easily find others who can see us for who we are, and encourage us by meeting us where we are at.

A quintessential part of being a good teammate, especially on a founding team, is building each other up — in a way that is constructive, calling out the areas of growth, without being overly critical, while still considering the intentions and feelings of others, all the while maintaining boundaries of not feeling responsible for the responsibilities and feelings of others.

It’s a lot.

But as with any early stage startup, the team is what matters most. It’s what drives forward the direction of the product and the company, and it’s what is the backbone to your every day. Who you do what you do with, is more important than what you are actually doing because who you can be and who others can be to you, is the core driver in propelling what you are doing into something far greater than any of you could have imagine. The sum of two parts is greater than each on its own.

Our being needs to exceed our doing. Yes, many who work at something like an early stage startup are extremely talented, but if the laser focus is on defining yourself based on what you do and defining what you do by what you can do, rather than who you can be, then you probably won’t see your product nor company last long, and you probably won’t enjoy where you are working at for the long haul.

Regardless of what your metrics say, your investors say, your clients say, your customers say, the core part of being an entrepreneur or working on a team of them, is to acknowledge your being, in order to acknowledge the being of your team as well.

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Belicia T. Tan

Product Ops @ Indeed // Founding team @ladder.to // Founder @girlswhoconsult