Every entrepreneur’s journey starts with a compelling story, whether an account of overcoming trials and tribulations or an anecdotal moment of inspiration found in an unlikely situation. Digging deeper reveals one common denominator; courage.
My entrepreneurial journey began when I took a leap of faith to launch my own recruitment company back in 2012. Labeled Blueprint Recruitment Group I built up the courage to dive into the unknown in a matter of weeks (although I had been contemplating it for years). It wasn’t necessarily a new thing for me as I had been running my business alongside a full-time job for 3 5 years prior. I had registered my company 5 years prior and running small recruitment projects in local communities (mainly deprived ones). However, despite my small success, my income didn’t come close to my annual salary and foolishly I opted to keep it as a secondary source of income devoting no more than 10 hours per week (less than a part-time job). It wasn’t until summer 2012 where I realised that giving my entrepreneur shot 100% was my only option for progression. Historically I had achieved a degree in Biochemistry, maintained a great sales background and a career in recruitment and won several competitive challenges. My most rewarding was the award for ‘Mr. Ghana’, that I won in my early 20’s (a modeling competition where I used charm regular gym attendance benefits and a deep voice to convince the panel and audience that I was that Guy).
I came to the realisation that anything I had put my heart mind and soul into resulted in a win to some degree with very little financial input. Only 4 years prior I had managed to secure a broadcast in the House of Commons with a documentary I made about local gang and drug issues in our communities.
What was I afraid of…. what took me so long.
Ok I’ll admit it, perhaps the company I worked for discovering my conflicting business and suspending me for Gross misconduct and a simultaneous successful application for Alan Sugar’s apprentice helped me take the plunge. But let’s face it none would have happened had I not started at all (a stagnated place many of us find ourselves). Chris Gardner’s book ‘start where you are’ definitely helped build that ‘just do it’ mentality I possess and use in my daily life NOW as a successful business owner.
Looking back, I realize that this frightening experience 6 years ago prepared me for my entrepreneurial journey I travel today. I learned that informed, calculated risks coupled with grit is the necessary combination to achieve success and a characteristic to aspire to. Now I run a successful Digital marketing and business consultancy company providing support to SME’s and new businesses, as well as creating social benefits to schools and young individuals keen walk my path.
So, the question remains, is entrepreneur-life right for you?
These five questions will help:
1. Why do I want to be an entrepreneur?
Each entrepreneur’s journey is unique, even though there are certain qualities, personality traits, and values that entrepreneurs share. Therefore, the answer to this question varies greatly from person to person. Is it wealth? Independence? Social recognition? Legacy? A combination of these? Something else entirely? Take some time and answer it for yourself.
I was working hard and making great career moves, yet I felt like my career growth was limited. There weren’t many promotional opportunities plus my personal goals (property, swanky car starting a family and most of all financial freedom) were swiftly becoming nothing more than a dream or things I longed for and wouldn’t own.
I knew deep down that if I did not take the risks now I would regret it later. In all honesty, I had already missed the target of my birthday in October 2011 where I turned 31.
I finally collected enough courage to leave my stable (but unsatisfying) corporate job to explore the unknown and scary world of entrepreneurship. I told myself: If I was brave enough to get on stage and win Mr. Ghana, film and interrogate Gang leaders across London and showcase it in The House of Commons then I can do anything. The goal…start my own company, make more money than I was at work and leave a footprint in the recruitment world. This would be my legacy this was my reason, this was my WHY.
We’ve all taken risks in life, a leap of faith in some shape or form. Just as I did you need to harness these earlier experiences in your life and use them to help you find the inspiration needed to build a business from the ground up. Remember that time in the past when you were bold and dreamt big? When you jumped off a cliff and built your wings on the way down? Become that daring, audacious version of yourself again.
Related: Starting a Business
2. So what’s your story?
We all love a good story. Expressing your story helps you establish your brand credibility, giving an heir of authenticity and Genuity too you and your business. More importantly similarly to a good song it can help you connect with your target audience who may or are going through a similar scenario to your very own life experiences. I mean why wouldn’t they. They’re walking the same route into the unknown, lost confused yet knowing there is more to their life; looking for direction and new hope. Your story, your adversity could be there’s too. There is no better connection than that.
Consider the story of Chris Gardner (the successful self-made entrepreneur to whom I made reference to earlier). His story ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ portrayed by Will Smith, is a compelling story of overcoming life’s biggest obstacles managing parenting homelessness and poverty but never losing hope and continuously striving. His story has made history. The story whether you read the book or watched the movie (which is equally compelling) has motivated and inspired millions into looking at adversity as a step toward greatness and not the be all and end all.
Related: Change is Success
3. What are your core values?
Social Media post, web pages, marketing material, dress sense, office etiquette and statements made are all representations of your values. Our values give us a sense of purpose and direction and inadvertently can act as a centre point for your business. What values lay at the core of your brand? Whether it similar to our Documentary, ‘Tha Endz’ which was giving back to the community and giving them a voice? Empowering others as we did with our recruitment company? Influencing the younger generation? Cultivating creativity? Whatever it may be, establish it early as it will be portrayed in all you do and could serve as a benefit or hindrance to your business. By understanding it you will establish whether to harness it and dwell on its values or perhaps rethink and change. Being adaptable is a key skill as an entrepreneur. Don’t get caught being too personal and clingy to an idea or product that doesn’t work.
Related: Your network is your net-worth
4. Are you happy with the idea of being unhappy?
Entrepreneur life is a one that involves discomfort lone working no frills and in your first year/years very little ROI (return on investment). To exist as an entrepreneur, you must be open to living in discomfort. Leave the comfort zones to the 9-5ers and step into the unknown with all its flaws, trials and tribulations. Social media is responsible for the glorification of entrepreneurship when it was once deemed a place for time wasting, poverty-stricken, individuals who simply had a dream.
My circle of entrepreneurs is filled with stories of such circumstances but also how it motivated them to learn new ways of doing things, welcome challenges and overcoming (with a few more commas in the bank account). Not so bad hey.
Fear, anxiety, and change are the main inhibitors and despite social media’s influence, many are still extremely afraid of taking the plunge doing everything necessary to avoid the actual step of moving from an idealist to an entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong you can be an idealistic entrepreneur, in fact, some of the most successful establish these idiosyncrasies. Having said that without the entrepreneur aspect you’re simply a dreamer. And for many that’s alright. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone and that’s something to bear in mind…
Listen we’ve all tossed and turned in beds over the mere thought of quitting the day job, starting anew as an Entrepreneur and removing that steady monthly income at the last day of the month. But let me tell you this singular truth…it was the best decision after I ever made (second to finding the love of my life). I swiftly learned how to manage my money expectations and adapt to this new financial way of living. Was it uncomfortable? Absolutely. Was I scared and sometimes without money. 100%.
But the personal growth I have accomplished as a result is priceless.
“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that”?
– Soledad O’Brien
Related: Change is Success
5. Do you have a legacy, if so what is it?
I have a family consisting of three beautiful girls and a loving wife. As any successful relationship we have our individual goals and ambitions but collectively our goal is to leave a legacy that our children’s children may benefit from. To create a platform that will continue long after we are gone. That’s right, you may be thinking about the beginning. Where to start what to buy where to locate what’s the first thing you will buy once your quid’s in. Let me change your mindset for a second. Think about the end.
Ok, let me put my thinking into perspective for you so you don’t think I’m absolutely barmy.
In London, we have the opportunity of commuting across our ever busy and congested city by car or London transport. Either way, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice to plan your route especially if you plan on going to Thorpe Park with the kids or getting to an occasion during peak hours with the family. Bring out the old Google maps or TFL app. Now there are two things you do. You type in the place of destination and you choose from a short list of alternative routes all the while deciding whether to use the quickest (which is sometimes the longer) or the shortest route. Irrespective your whole journey and method of arrival is dependant on the end game. You don’t waste time thinking about how you base your plan your timing your method of traveling on the destination. My advice to you would be to do the same for your business idea. In doing so will help you ascertain why you’re in it what you hope to achieve; essentially you’re creating your Aim you Vision (two integral parts of your business plan).
Your life is based upon one factor, CHOICE and what decisions you take based on those choices. A legacy isn’t something to be feared but merely a choice or decision your future self will thank you for.
My first question was this: –
1. What is it that I want from this experience?
2. What is the end goal?
In a business plan you will be required to create an exit strategy, a service we offer as part of our Business Coaching platform (see https://kbconsultancy.uk/coaching/). Should you require any form of investment, the bank or relative lender will want to know the answer to the above 2 questions.
How can you know where to go if you don’t know where you’re going or heading to?
I could go on but let me leave with this lasting point.
Create an affinity for failure or regret. Don’t look at these two experiences as negative factors but rather as learning curves that will help you reach the level you wish to reach. Similarly, to riding a bike; you’re going to fall off. Maybe more times than you would like to, and your knees may acquire a few grazes in the process. But does that mean you put the bike down and run from it; in fear of a few bumps and bruises….NO. You get on that bike and before you know it your showing off the ‘no hands’ trick.
As Winston Churchill said
“The definition of success is moving from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm”