The Narcissistic Entrepreneur SyndromeFeatured
I had been running my business for about six months before I realized that I was making some major mistakes. The way I built the foundation of my business ensured it was destined for failure and I realized that I was the problem. I self diagnosed myself as succumbing to, what I like to call, the Narcissistic Entrepreneur Syndrome. I had always been fascinated with owning and running a business. Lots of women of my generation are becoming more entrepreneurial, whether they are selling things online, leading meetup groups, or opening new businesses. My hope is by learning from my mistakes, you will have the opportunity to make your business more successful.When I started my business, I made two mistakes. First, I named it after myself. Second, I was only interested in solving problems that I cared about and I jumped on an idea and ran with it without doing user research.Naming a business after myself was important to me because it was how I was going to redefine my identity to be bigger than I was before. My reasoning was, “I need to do this because my name belongs on my company, right? People like me so if I put my name on my product, people will like it! How else will people know it's mine, that I started it, that I’m running it, that it's a creative expression of my dreams and goals?” This was the wrong direction. Naming my business after myself was a mistake that wasted time and money.As I began to build my business, I realized that I didn’t want to be for sale myself. I did not want my name as the title for the product I was selling. I originally named my travel business Rae Takes Off after my love for travel. I wanted to recreate moments I had in my travels for others to enjoy, but I didn't realize that my personal image constantly had to conform to brand professionalism. My customers unconsciously had to take an interest in me as a person in order to support my product because my name was on it. As much as I wanted to sell my product, I knew I didn't want to compromise who I was to fit my target audience’s interest. After six months I changed the name to Unwind. One word, extremely relatable, and most importantly, faceless! I wanted my customer base to feel included in my product whether they agree with my personal brand or not. Changing my company name was my first step to becoming less of a Narcissistic Entrepreneur.I also started my business without validating the idea. When I created my first company leading group tours, I didn't know of any group tour companies. I jumped out there and dove head-first into building a tour company without any customer validation or adequate market research to have a deep understanding of what the market is, what it's lacking, what customers are looking for, and how I can set myself apart from other companies. I should have used my problem as the gateway to explore a big problem that many people face and get a larger conversation going about which solutions were available. We live in an age of accessible information, but there are still barriers to knowledge because of lack of exposure. The most resourceful information is still confined to certain groups and communities. Y-Combinator Online Startup School has been pivotal for fast-tracking my understanding of building scalable businesses and building something to help others instead of myself. Narcissism in entrepreneurship has led me to make some grave mistakes but on the flip side it's also given me incredible perseverance to keep pushing forward through challenges. Today I’m stronger, smarter, and even more passionate about building my business. After extensive user research from leading group tours, managing teams, building global partnerships, and a more developed view of my target market, I pivoted my group tours business to a global online marketplace for local travel experiences led by women. I’m aiming to disrupt a $185 billion industry by leveraging my relationships with global women who want to share what they love with other women. I’m empowering women of all shapes, sizes, transitions, colors, status, and backgrounds to be leaders and entrepreneurs. And I’m happy to inspire others through sharing my mistakes.-- Arabia Umrani is the Founder of Unwind, a travel experiences platform for women, by women. With over 10 years experience in the tourism industry working for hotels, airlines, and hosting group trips around the world. Arabia is excited to connect like-minded travelers to creative female entrepreneurs and channel her passion into building a niche travel ecosystem for women.