By Debra Ward
My first entrepreneurial business was when I was only sixteen. I opened and operated a late night dog stand – Wolfy’s across from the busiest pub in town. With a real understanding of the power of providing a solution at the exact moment desire occurs and my need to maximize output for level of input, I only opened on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights between 10pm and 3am during the peak summer months. This customer insight paid for my first year of college.
In between these two positions I have held varying roles all with a customer focussed strategy, be it in restaurants, hotels, resorts or FM. I have had the good fortune of working with some of the best companies across six different countries giving me a real opportunity to see people, cultures and business in a variety of capacities. This of course has enabled me to cross-pollinate ideas and best practise across not only these countries but also across industries and sectors.
I wouldn’t introduce myself as an entrepreneur as such but believe I do have the spirit within. I guess I classify myself more as an ideas hunter, or a possibility creator. This openness to ideas and possibility has enabled me to never be blinkered in my approach, forever searching and believing that I will know when I see it. This creates an amazing combination of feelings somewhere between freedom, fear and exhilaration… not dissimilar to being on a roller-coaster.
Whilst entrepreneurs can be difficult to manage (please consider this a life-long all-encompassing apology to all those who have undertaken the task) as we can be driven, passionate, relentless, jump first think later, and dog-with-a-bone type people. The upside though is the exhilaration of being around those who are entrepreneurial. There is a real buzz, a contagious momentum and an overriding air of positivity, keeping everything and everyone fresh.
So for those of you who have the privilege of working with an entrepreneur may I suggest:
- Stand in the place of possibility and work backwards. If you stand in today and try to map out how to get to the end all you will see is stumbling blocks
- Let your entrepreneurs fail without reproach – they are trying to make your company better… failure just means that you now know what doesn’t work
- Give support and encouragement – be in the moment with them
- Be pragmatic without being pessimist – help them find solutions to potential blockers (budgets, stakeholders, procedures)
- If a wild stallion is to win, give them their head, let them run and just use the reins to steer
For those budding entrepreneurs I say:
- Be brave and take a risk – Go big or go home
- Be unwaveringly passionate about your business
- Believe in those who believe in your business
- Sweat equity while sometimes underappreciated should never be undervalued
- Never stop looking for the possibility, in people, in business, in life
And lastly, for those companies wishing to promote entrepreneurial spirit I suggest:
- It is not going to happen all by itself
- Make it known that you value innovation and entrepreneurs (MITIE Millions is an excellent example)
- Make it easy for entrepreneurs to bring their vision to the table
- Allocate resources to finding and supporting entrepreneurs yes financially but equally important – give them your time
Lastly I say to all – seek out ideas, possibilities, entrepreneurs – GET HUNTING!
This article was originally written for Virgin Media Pioneer’s blog