As I write this blog, I’ve almost finished reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s book ‘#AskGaryVee – one entrepreneur’s talk on leadership social media and self-awareness‘. It’s brimming with gems of information including the reality of being an entrepreneur and more. I recall when Stelios Haji-loannou, founder of EasyJet, came to do a talk in the Old Building during my time at LSE. His enthusiasm, passion and drive were evident and I’ve seen similar traits in those who embrace the entrepreneurial way of life.
In the past, I’ve been lucky enough to work for some major brands, as well as myself, and the one thing they both had in common was that fighting entrepreneurial spirit. In my opinion, an entrepreneur is someone perceived to be a business leader with innovative concepts and processes. When they organise and manage a new enterprise, they understand the risk and reap the rewards. Even in an established company, thinking outside of the box and seeing things in a different way can lead to some impressive changes. Working in both the private and public sector, I’ve witnessed first-hand how innovative solutions can make simple yet significant changes to the way we work and the efficiency of a project. In one particular organisation a colleague colour coded machinery to ensure it could be easily returned to its location in the warehouse – this simple notion saved employees lots of time and avoided the constant search for tools. In another organisation, staff were often texted, as well as emailed, important information. This ensured it was easily accessible at any time and less likely to be missed. Simple changes can make a marked difference.
In my opinion, being an entrepreneur also comes with a lot of benefits. You’re in charge of your own destiny, your own abilities and, most importantly, your own business. The freedom to think for yourself and the satisfaction of developing a product from concept to market is truly priceless. That itself is rewarding enough. However, being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Be prepared for long hours, demanding targets and lonely staff meetings (especially if you’re working solo on your concept). You often need to dig deep for motivation and ensure you keep going when things just don’t work out.
So what makes a good entrepreneur? What measures of success are you benchmarking? You can have the best idea for an app/product/service but will that be enough? Is it all about social media? Do you go out and find funding?
There are so many questions and the answers will differ for each and every budding entrepreneur and their product. A simple answer would be knowing yourself, your strengths and weakness and, most importantly, your idea. Yes, you could have the best idea since sliced bread, but what if you don’t feel confident in front of a panel of venture capitalists? Do you take that risk, or do you invest in a sales person to do the talking for you? Perhaps you feel too young to begin your concept? But as Gary says, ‘a great idea is a great idea no matter what age you are’.
But at the same time, it can be liberating, motivational, fun and may take you to some incredible places, both physically and metaphorically. At a talk earlier this year, I met Caprice, former model and now international businesswomen. She was so eloquent in her advice, in particular when suggesting ‘To be an entrepreneur, you gotta love what you do’ Wise words and totally applicable to so many real life situations. You must really love what you do, or at least have utter belief in it. Oh, another nugget of advice: ‘Don’t be afraid of failure. That is the best way to learn’. It is not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get right back up, reinstate faith in your product, and keep going. Being at LSE, and amongst so many bright and driven individuals, really kept me motivated. I’m also lucky enough to still be able to call on my peers for advice.
Where do you start? Well anywhere really. Start today and start simple. Many of the entrepreneurs that I look up to have done just that! Start with something you’re good and just got for it. I know many successful people who started selling things, anywhere and at anytime. Whether it was tickets for gigs, clothing or jewellery on eBay, or simply selling their time for tutoring, they all had one thing in common: they sold a product or service they knew a lot about. Along the way, they learnt how to sell and how not to sell, how to engage with their audiences and how to be patient but throughout it all they never stopped looking at the bigger picture. What was the one thing driving them? Was it chasing that sale on eBay? Or hitting that order target? Perhaps, but one things for certain is they stuck by their grand plan and worked hard to turn their idea into a reality. Maybe one day your passion will develop into a whole business career!
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