As a life coach, I cover all different topics with my clients from relationships, career changes, support through workplace disputes to creating a mindset for different situations including starting and growing their own businesses.
This blog focuses on some of the lessons I learnt as I developed my own entrepreneur mindset. For me, there were three lessons I learnt very early on, and they are worth reflecting on if you think that you want to run your own business in the future.
In my blog the Imperfect Life Coach I referred to the fact that people are confused by how someone who has faced challenges and made mistakes can be a life coach. Yet here I am a respected and well-regarded life coach whose life is far from perfect. I have had failures as well as successes, but frankly, that’s what enables me able to empathise and relate to my clients. Indeed I coach people about starting a business and running a business when I admit that as an entrepreneur one of my biggest achievements has been the ability to fail fast.
You see lots of budding entrepreneurs look for super successful business people to mentor them while I understand the basic logic I also think it is flawed.
Starting a business is like embarking on a road trip or a tour. There will be multiple destinations, and each of these will require you to have different things in your bag.
At the beginning of your endeavour and indeed before you even start you need to be coached/mentored by someone who is intimately familiar with failure and therefore is brimming with ingenuity and resilience. After all “necessity is the mother of invention”.
As a coach who also happens to be an entrepreneur who has learnt from their mistakes, I am able to guide potential business owners within the choppy waters of the first year of business.
In this initial period, you need a coach shifts your mindset from one of blithe optimism to a healthy balance between pragmatism and realism. As an entrepreneur, you must be able to see all the risks, the negatives and the positives as well as being able to assess how your product/service stacks up against the competition. The fatal flaw that an entrepreneur can have is arrogance, and the best quality is self-awareness.
So what have I learnt from being an entrepreneur? Let me share the first three lessons that I learnt with you.
It all started when I was 4 years old. At age 4 I wrote a book about myself and sold copies of it to family members. I think I made about 60p. This process taught me a very early lesson that you have to give to get. I remember my hands being tired as I couldn’t photocopy the book. I had to make the duplicate copies by hand, and my favourite purple and orange markers ran out of ink as they weren’t industrial strength. To gain revenue, I had given up time, effort and my favourite markers.
Fast forward a few years, and I was mobile stationer. Going to school in Guyana I was required to sit the 11+ exam. The exam required candidates to have a special type of pencil, an eraser and a ruler. Based on the behaviours of my classmates through the mock exams, I knew that there would be many a panicked student looking for these items just before walking into an exam. So, I chose to take advantage of the market. I raided my father’s business of all the necessary equipment and went to school on exam days with a briefcase full of my wares. I don’t even recall how much I earned but I know I was sold out each day for that week and I was able to have a tasty milkshake with my lunch each day. Lesson learnt was to find a gap in the market and exploit it.
After exams, I changed my approach. Instead of selling stationery I sold my second-hand comic books. I was a voracious reader and often had almost new comics at home gathering dust. I converted these items into my new business venture and continued to make a little pocket money as my classmates sought less academic material to read. The third entrepreneurial lesson I therefore learnt was to assess and respond to changing consumer trends.
Look out for the next part of my story to find out the next three lessons that I learnt from being an entrepreneur