I learnt to mix business with family and everyday life, and I would never want to change my lifestyle.
The word entrepreneur is still foreign to most people
Even though I have been described as a classic entrepreneur, I didn’t even know what the word meant until I was in my late 30s.
At the age of 19, I finished college and started a ‘real’ job with a big company. I had never heard of entrepreneurship, let alone what the characteristics were, but four years later I was fed up with being employed and, obviously, now, the entrepreneurial spirit started to stimulate my passion to own my own business.
It took me years to realise what an entrepreneur was, as the traditional rules of an employee or manager did not apply to entrepreneurs. Because in entrepreneurs their realistic goals and challenges are replaced with vision driven expectations.
Until the 1980s I thought entrepreneur was just a funny word and I was the same as everyone else, I just had different ideas. My father and grandfather were both entrepreneurs but probably didn’t realise it as the word only became popular after the 1960s even though entrepreneurs have been around forever.
In my early career, I used to travel up to 100,000 kilometres each year, which was great for seeing the country, but to me, it wasted a lot of time. I have always had a ‘home office’ ever since I started work and have always preferred to work there. Travelling to work each day is not my idea of using my time well or productively.
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game’s winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that’s why I succeed”. Michael Jordan
In my home office, there are far fewer distractions than in an office complex and the discipline of going to an office each day was not something I wanted or needed, but I know many people do.
I always like to involve people in pursuit of an opportunity and you don’t need a regular office to do this. Until I learned about entrepreneurship I used to feel guilty as this was not what everyone else did.
As an entrepreneur I had no problem working alone in my home office, I had my routines and standards and could walk down the hallway in the middle of the night if I couldn’t sleep and move a project forward. I also found when I did venture out from the home office, I enjoyed interacting with people much more.
I now know entrepreneurs like to have and use tools that will stimulate their thinking and build knowledge. My first recollection of buying a tool was shortly after taking my first job when I needed a desk in my flat (home office), as I hated working without one as I felt I couldn’t work efficiently.
My next recollection was buying books on many different business subjects when I started my first business because I knew I had big gaps in my knowledge that needed to be filled.
Going forward is always exciting for me
There are many things I would have done differently if I had understood entrepreneurship as well as I do today, however, I have had a good life and have no regrets.
Today, I look more closely at the reasons I become involved with people, businesses and projects, I have learned to better manage my entrepreneurial attributes and as a result, I make better decisions, faster than I did previously. I have also learned to handle disruptions and surprises better, I hate surprises.
In studying my characteristics, I have learned I am the sort of person who needs human involvement. I often wonder why I was so driven to attend so many meetings, workshops, seminars and conferences. I’d often say to my wife (who I have been happily married to for 50 years), that I needed a quiet weekend, but within a few hours would be wanting to have someone over for dinner”. I am now managing to control this and must say the email and social media have had an impact.
“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time”. Jeff Bezos
No one ever said it was easy being an entrepreneur. Whether you’re in the early stages of your start-up, or in a mature business or non-profit organisation. There will always be those times when you ask yourself if this whole entrepreneur thing is worth it. Instead of giving up and throwing in the towel, use those God given talents you have to inspire and motivate you during those tough patches. Better still go and help someone.
Focusing on good values is critical
Create a comfortable working environment, by picking people with good values that you like working with. You need to resist distractions from those who don’t believe in you, your projects, entrepreneurship and who want to pull you back to their level all the time.
Stop people using you as a convenience and take up ‘Real Estate in your brain whilst not paying the rent’. In hindsight, the worst relationships I ever had in business and life resulted from me not paying enough attention to their values, taking people at face value and believing that their actions would match their rhetoric.
If you are an entrepreneur, and struggling a little, don’t go and take a ‘real job’, apply your entrepreneurial attributes to your longer term aspirations and give yourself time to relax, think, reflect and plan. If you are still struggling reach out to another real entrepreneur.
Some days I feel I have given my bit to my family and community so can ease up and focus more on my hobbies. I have identified a number of hobbies I want to become more involved with, but that entrepreneurial spirit inside me still finds it difficult to say ‘no’ when it comes to the work I love doing.
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Most people just don’t understand what we as entrepreneurs really do, and never why we do what we do. The average person just can’t understand why we always seem to be working so hard to build our businesses and help other people. But to me mixing work and pleasure came naturally and I always loved what I was doing.
Turning my hand to anything usually came naturally to me, it was a natural state of mind. It was easy for me and in my early years as I wanted to be involved with everything, and was totally motivated and action orientated. I also wanted to be successful, not in money terms but in terms of my family and life.
I was very naive for many years, thinking I was lucky but also grateful for what life was throwing at me, little did I know it was the entrepreneurial spirit inside me, shaping the person I was to become.