In part 1 of “The Entrepreneur Mindset” blog series, I shared the first three entrepreneurial lessons that I learned. Now I want to ask you a question and share the next lessons. Being an entrepreneur is a journey, although you may learn lessons, you will undoubtedly unlearn and relearn them and even evolve how you perceive and use these lessons to progress. Today I can honestly say that I am a purpose-driven entrepreneur. I use my passion and my purpose to drive change and share my ideas. As a life and career coach, I meet lots of people who aspire to the entrepreneur lifestyle but they either don’t have the mindset, or they aren’t sure of what kind of entrepreneur that they are. Four types of entrepreneur that I have met and work with include the:
- Passionate entrepreneur – passionate about a particular topic but unclear about precisely what to do to make their entrepreneur journey a reality.
- Purposeful entrepreneur – driven by a keen sense of mission and achievement they are trying to “do” something
- Profit-driven entrepreneur – their overriding purpose is to make money they will go into any business if they can see the profitability of the idea
- Hobbyist entrepreneur – dabbles in business but lack the time or desire to transition to being a full-time entrepreneur
The question you should ask yourself is “what type of entrepreneur are you?” The answer lies in every experience that you have had to date and whether you can recognise the signs that suggest that firstly you have an entrepreneur mindset and next what that mindset might be.
For me, I guess I always knew that I had the entrepreneur mindset the lessons and signs were apparent from an early age, but it’s with hindsight that I can look back and see what those lessons were and how I can use them now and in the future.
Picking up from where I left off in the last blog I was now finished with primary school and starting secondary school. I didn’t have much time for any entrepreneurial activities, so it wasn’t until 6th form when my entrepreneurial spirit was reignited. A long-held tradition at our school was the annual nominations for the graduation ball’s fundraising committee. I was proud and surprised to be nominated to be the chair of the committee but excited about the prospect of leading the social activity for the next two years. Little did I know that we would have the most challenging year. During the first six months of my tenure as committee chair, our school was the subject of an arson attack which damaged our auditorium. Suddenly we didn’t have a venue for the graduation ceremony, so in addition to having to fund our graduation ball, we also had to buy the full graduation ceremony. Then we were dealt another blow. The graduation gowns that had been passed down from generation to generation had also perished in the fire, so we had to purchase new gowns. Rather than seeing these as insurmountable challenges I recognised that it was time to Step Up and Step Out. To be a successful chair I had to provide inspiration, leadership, and innovation. In addition to the planned social activities, I led a media campaign to gain sponsorship and cash donations, and a meeting with prominent business people to ask for funding. Even though I’ve always preferred to be in the background, I knew that to get the results I wanted I had to improve my visibility and be clear about my goals. Appearing on television and conducting those meetings meant that I had to be clear about stakeholder motivations and be clear about how there would be transparency and accountability for donations. All essential entrepreneurial skills as well as leadership skills.
When I left the sixth form, I returned to the UK from Guyana and started working. In a new country, there was little time for entrepreneurial pursuits, so my journey stalled for almost 12 years until I was pregnant with my daughter. During this time, I recognised that I wanted to achieve more in my life than just being a good employee, so I looked for ways to flex my entrepreneurial muscles. Between my pregnancy and her first year I tried the following businesses with varying results:
- Selling shoes – made a modest profit but it is a stock-heavy business, and lots of waste and obsolescence as sizing issues can mean you’re left with shoes in specific Also changing fashion trends and weather patterns impact sales and demand.
- Making cakes – cake baking without cake decoration is difficult. Although people like the flavour of my cakes, they generally prefer a cake that tastes ok but looks fantastic. I didn’t have the passion or the patience to learn cake decorating so I walked away from that business
- Catering – similar to the reason above. I wasn’t ready to turn my hobby into a business and the business model I wanted to implement required lots of time and effort that I wasn’t prepared to invest.
- Bespoke greeting cards – I truly enjoyed this business but the profit margins were too low and the time and effort to make a handmade card compared to the market value were negligible, so I quickly figured out that although I had passion, there was no profit.
- Event management – I love event management, and I was good at it but practically speaking being a single mother and an event manager without a driving license wasn’t realistic, so I have shelved that particular idea for now.
- Writing – I started writing my first novel Screwed up Sister when I was on maternity leave, but fear and limiting beliefs caused me to put my dream on the back burner. Additionally, it was still in hobby phase at that time so although I have been writing steadily since then (2006), I have only really focused on it as a business tool in the last three years.
The overriding lesson that I learned through all these attempts in business is that success comes as a result of failure. Very few entrepreneurs have been successful all the time, and it is their resilience that enables them to succeed. Why not assess your failures today and then recognise the success that you have achieved through those failures?
My third entrepreneurial lesson has been the power of a plan. I would describe myself as having an activist personality. Always looking for the next challenge, always on the move and always willing to try something new. With that mindset comes a lot of reward and a vast amount of knowledge and experience but the downside is that I also waste time and energy doing things that won’t always get me the best results. Planning isn’t something that comes naturally to many people, and it has taken me years to find a way of planning that works for me. Let me share it with you. I like to write lists and cross things out. I find that it motivates me and focuses my mind on small tasks that build to a significant achievement. To help me plan I identify big themes that I am working on each month and then I use my diary to write daily tasks and activities. I am mindful of being very specific about my tasks so for instance, I used to write “Edit my latest novel.” Now I write “edit pages 10 to 20 of Seven Sisters”. By increasing the specificity of the task, I am more likely to stick to it and make meaningful progress, and by using my diary, there is an inherent time-bound element to my tasks which also helps to focus my mind.
Final lesson and to me the most important one is to forgive yourself. There are lots of ideas that I didn’t implement and actions that I didn’t take, but ultimately by forgiving myself and extracting the positive from the negative, I am able to apply these lessons to my journey so that I continue to progress. Even on a day to day basis, I don’t always achieve all my tasks, but all that I do is to reassess my priorities and to reallocate my time. Before I would beat myself up for not finishing but now I choose to keep putting one foot in front of the other and progressing my journey. No one said being an entrepreneur was easy. It’s just about having the right mindset. The Entrepreneur Mindset!
For advice about your entrepreneurial journey, a free coaching call or access to planning tools such as daily planning sheets or the exclusive Cracked Cocoon Workbook contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.