Every entrepreneur has a story, each will have their own challenges.
Being an Entrepreneur gives a whole new perspective on the term “Jack of all Trades”, whilst also having to strive to be expert at them all to the best of your ability. In my view an Entrepreneur is not just someone who founds a company, we don’t all have to appear on Dragons’ Den with a new invention, start up or latest disruptive idea. It is also someone who takes an existing idea, product, service and evolves it to something bigger and, hopefully, better. They take a company through its various evolutionary stages, maybe not all of them either and in the skill sets the most valuable one is identifying when you need help and finding it. In the misquoted words of Bill, some are born entrepreneurs… some become entrepreneurs and some have entrepreneurship thrust upon them! Having recently been recognised as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Venus Awards sponsored by the Business Tool box D52Ltd, and interviewed by Gill Donnell MBE of Successful Women in Business, (http://bit.ly/2XOFa91) I reflected on what was important to become an Entrepreneur. Look after your team, it may just be your first hire, or you may have many who have put their faith in you. After all without them what do you have to sell - beyond yourself? No (wo)man is an island. It's even more important than ever to ensure your team are challenged and happy, it’s what they spend more time doing than most other activities in their lives including time with family. From the first day they start, setting the tone, being prepared for their day one and every day thereafter to work together. The atmosphere, much like a bad smell in a house needs dealing with, a handy bottle of calming Febreze (other air fresheners are available) or an open window is the equivalent to a shoulder, open ear or calm understanding – backed by action when required. At Morning Data we have 40% of the team being female, and a zero gender pay gap. The team can gain increases to salary by achieving exam results in their education pathway and the Support when personal lives collide with their professional one. These elements are part of the ethos within the company. Look After your clients, customer service is vital 24/7. The small to the large, the buyer, the accounts department through to the CEO, even when things get tough remember, treat them all with the respect you hope they would afford you. Often any stressful situations are born out of their frustration and working together to solve whatever issues they have will pay dividends in the long run. I have experienced a few calls and meetings that would make a nun blush, but honest genuine commitment to understand your clients’ goals, and fears, will see a solution unfold. After all they want their companies to succeed as you want yours to. Look after your network, you don't know when you may need them. Which in real terms means giving up some of what little time you have to help others with No expectation they will be able to help you back, but I am a firm believer that it is not only good experience but also you simply do not know when your actions start a chain reaction that benefits you and others at the same time. This network is not just those you might aspire to emulate, not just people that can help you advance but also the next generation, those behind you..... just like your own children one day they may need to look after you, but for now you can make a difference to them. this could be offering work experience, shadowing, mentoring, a helpful coffee, introductions, LinkedIn invitations. Look after your reputation, in all you do ask if your granny would approve. Even the good guys get talked about, not always in a favourable light, maybe from jealousy or envy maybe through lack of understanding, so don't give them cause to base it on fact. My pet hated phrase is "its just business" no it is not, business is people. Whilst life may not always (or ever) be fair, don't descend to behaviour or actions you cant be proud of. Look after your friends and family, in most cases it's what drives any Entrepreneur but deep down an Entrepreneur would probably do what they do either way, for some it is in their blood. But when the chips are down it's your friends and family that are likely to come to the rescue and in the meantime are the long-suffering army enabling you to work the long hours forever on your pc or phone, prop you up with a G&T, and distract your focus from thinking of some impending disaster to avoid. Look after your assets - I can only speak here from the perspective of being a woman. As such there are some potential traits that add to the mix, reading Josephine Fairley in the Telegraph (2015, but have we really moved on that much?) she highlights several aspects that might be argued to be a relevant to more women than men... statistics show that women entrepreneurs get a fraction of the investment funding their male counterparts get, then and still now this is slow to change, but there are now specific female investments organisations that may see the tide turning. Is this because women are more cautious, is this a negative issue - a balanced human race - a balanced board room it is thought that a 40% female representation at board level on average returns a 40% increase in return on investment. that caution is a great balance to the other traits displayed from our male colleagues. Fairley also purports that women are not brave or emotionally strong enough - both of these she quickly debunks - showing humanity is making a come back in the board room and carries valuable favour in the commercial world where previously it was considered weak and only relevant in HR! Look after you, that is in body, mind and reputation. It's obvious I guess, but without you it is likely much of what you have built will come crashing down to the ground. But if you build it well, it could very well survive without your full time focus; if all the other elements are well constructed, most importantly your team, then if your own circumstances require you to take some time out, you will be able to, even if you don’t think that to be true. I was distracted with Breast cancer treatment the latter part of 2018 so only one week in three in the office was really within my reach and even then I was probably at less than full strength, but the team were able to continue and indeed push the company forward, I probably should have known this would be the case. There will be a time when any Entrepreneur has to decide to start to properly delegate various of those trades I mentioned above to people who you hope you can trust, who you hope have a similar set of ethics, but may also have different qualities to help you take your company further. It seems, at least the way I have worded this piece, that “looking after” stuff is a major factor - Looking after your Team, Clients, Network, Assets, Family, and with what time is left, you!