I came to entrepreneurship on the birth of my first child. My corporate world didn’t look kindly at my first pregnancy 16 years ago and new to Australia, knowing a handful of people, I decided to start my own thing. I didn’t give it a second thought. I didn’t labour over whether it was right or wrong or whether I could or couldn’t do it, I just did it. My husband and I were new to the country and we wanted to build a new life. I wanted to contribute.
I don’t know that I recognised then any specific entrepreneurial attributes in myself. I am after all what I am; a product of my upbringing, my culture, my parents, strengths and weaknesses, my experiences and my education. But as with our human need for labels, after founding Taurus Marketing, theCaseStudycompany and TaurusFastTrack, I was called an entrepreneur.
I like it. It sits well. And in a country of 2 million small business entrepreneurs I am far from alone. Apart from my belief there is nothing small about small business, I have recognised in myself and others, that it takes a certain type of person to take on the role on of founding, running, and growing one’s own business.
These days, one doesn’t have to wait to have a baby to start a new business and I am permanently inspired at how young entrepreneurship starts. Take the example of our most famous young entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.
With the internet today, the demographics of entrepreneurship don’t matter; but there is something distinguishing about them as individuals, their physiology and their mannerisms. You can usually spot them in the way they move, make decisions, speak, listen and stand. They are snappy, fast thinkers, usually intolerant, and experts at multi-tasking. There is a difference in the way they see opportunities where others see problems, the way mistakes are learning curves rather than failures and the way they are willing to give anything a go.
So is there a science behind the profile of an entrepreneur? Why are some driven to go out on their own and create from scratch and others not? Is it the way entrepreneurs break the rules and make their own that distinguishes them most? And if passion or love for something is strategically targeted, isn’t anything possible?
My feeling is the entrepreneurial attitude is almost a way of facing life, personally and professionally and that it can be self taught, albeit with mentors and clever reading and courses along the way. And of course by surrounding yourself with the right people.
So if it is never too late to become an entrepreneur, what steps can you take towards entrepreneurship?
1. Have self belief
An entrepreneur focuses on his or her vision 24/7. It is a living and breathing thing. There is a firm belief we can and will achieve. Success is defined personally and not so much by others’ perceptions. There is little veering from targets.
Entrepreneurs are tenacious and steadfast at the risk of being stubborn with a firm commitment to keep going, even when the going gets tough, which it does. Self belief permits a high level of trust in one’s capabilities—the concentration and focus of making a vision a reality. Self belief is knowing that the achievement of objectives is part of life’s journey and not just wishful thinking. Self belief is the difference between dreaming of an outcome and actually having the confidence and drive to make it happen.
2. Follow your passion
I’m a big believer that we are all good at what we enjoy and enjoy what we are good at. We all know someone who after years of working in one field decides one day they are not satisfied with their ‘nine to five’ job and quit to pursue their passion for photography or painting or to write that book. Rule number two is recognise your strengths and follow your passion. Maybe it is passion for owning a business or for lifestyle, cars, food or fashion – or just time! Whatever it is, an entrepreneur tends to work hard doing what they love to do – it just isn’t work. Passion in your everyday life is a joy – and it overwhelmingly makes sense, we are much happier doing what we love.
3. See opportunities in obstacles
I never really thought of myself as good at problem solving or lateral thinking—I am anything but a logical brain, however organised I am. Coming from an academic family, they held special celebrations if certain subject results I struggled with were better than normal. But in my business, although it is mostly plain sailing after 16 years, I am the troubleshooter, the one where ultimately the buck stops, where problems are mine to fix.
In my life, challenges and problems are opportunities for change and the issues are mine to solve. As an entrepreneur, my successes are my responsibility, as are my failures. Each new challenge is a catalyst for change and a chance for increased excellence. When an opportunity arises to meet a need, the entrepreneur grabs it. Tasks that could be placed in the too-hard basket, are grabbed on to and solutions found.