Today marks the end of Global Entrepreneurship Week and a time to celebrate the innovative spirit that fuels us “entrepreneurs”.
Entrepreneurs – the collective noun for people who have a business idea and turn it into reality – well that’s my take on it anyway. In that sense of the word I am one; and in other words I am just a girl from Burnley who loves what she does.
I never set out to start my own business; it wasn’t something I’d always dreamed of. Then, in 2005, having reached the heights of the career ladder, and thinking “I am sure I could do this better” I decided it was time to bite the bullet and go with my gut instinct.
So, armed with a successful career and a vision off I strode, passing ‘go’ and collecting my “entrepreneur” badge. All I had was an idea of what I wanted to create and a huge desire to make it happen.
What more do you need?
You could argue, nothing more. Ten years in, these are some of the valuable lessons I’ve learnt along the way…
One of the very early pieces of advice I received when I was just starting out has stuck with me all this time is … “take time out of the business to work on the business, not in the business”. And what a useful nugget it has been. In the early days when you first start, you are doing everything. It feels like you step onto the treadmill, press go, and you’re just running and running, going faster and faster just to keep up in this world that you have created. Everything is happening quickly and you don’t have time to think.
I am sure that sounds familiar. I’ve found it helpful to press the pause button. Jump off the treadmill. And reflect. Reflect on what’s really going on. Giving myself the time to breathe, and the space to think is crucial to the continuing success of the business. It’s not always easy to change the way you do things but focussing on your time out – booking it in your diary, and being disciplined in protecting this valuable time, does help.
Bad stuff happens:
Even in my Happy world I have learnt to expect the unexpected. You get knocked down, bumped sideways, blown off-course. No matter how well you plan and how tight your vision; there is always a certain curve-ball that wants to unsteady you. I’ve been knocked down many times in our 10 years, and quite often from areas I least expected. Bouncebackability, it’s what I’ve got. Otherwise known as resilience – it’s one of the strongest characteristics I believe an entrepreneur has. The ability to take the knocks, to dust yourself down and to get back up again; and importantly to get back up again with energy and strength.
Surround yourself with awesome people:
Inside and outside of your business. Outside of the business one of the best decisions I made was to join the Academy for Chief Executives. I have been a member for almost 6 years now. The amount of learning from world-class speakers and the support of like-minded peers has been instrumental not only in our success as a business, but in my own development as a leader. This is also my time out of the business and a chance to be with people who push and challenge you and who genuinely want the best for you. It has been invaluable.
Less is more:
It is so easy to get caught up in the world of “busyness”. Running around like crazy, trying to do everything and please everyone. And once you have run your business life this way it’s not easy to change. I found the book “The One Thing” really useful for changing my habits. It’s a number one bestseller by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan. The theme of the book is so simple and yet so powerful.
“What’s the one thing that you can do today that will bring you the most impact” I find that asking myself this question as often as I can, really helps to focus my mind.
Belief starts from within:
Belief. It’s something I talk about a lot. For me it’s where it all begins. Your entrepreneurial dream starts with the belief it is possible; and it continues with the belief it’s still possible, no matter what. An unwavering belief in yourself is at the heart. And I have to say it can feel quite awkward sometimes. There are inevitably moments of self-doubt. It’s not easy to keep that belief burning strong especially when you are tired, stressed and when the going is tough. Do all you can to keep believing in yourself. Reflect on what you’ve achieved. And draw on the support of the remarkable people both inside and outside of your business. For without belief there is nothing.
Those are some of my learnings 10 years in. Tune in again in 2025 when 20 years in, I will be sharing more of my learnings along the way …
Karen Lambert is a creative thinker, an experienced strategic marketer and founder and Managing Director of Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and branding agency based in Lancashire, North West England. To learn more please contact Karen at www.happy-creative.co.uk.