My top 7 thoughts on entrepreneurship (this week!)

I subscribe to a number of entrepreneurial blog spots and groups on platforms like LinkedIn and one of my real frustrations is that I often see a title like this one but they are very rarely about entrepreneurship. I’m forever the optimist and always look forward to reading the latest post I’ve come across but am more often and not left very disappointed not because the material isn’t good in itself but because it isn’t talking about or addressing the sphere of real entrepreneurship. Rather, they address issues around management development or business sustainability. Recently, I came across one that I downloaded and saved it until I had the time to read and digest! i was really looking forward to it — it was called ‘5 questions that entrepreneurs ask themselves everyday’ what an intriguing title. Unfortunately, it was anything but intriguing! Only two of the 5 questions could apply to the sphere of the entrepreneurs the other 3 were really questions about improving and sustaining a business.

In this season of lament, I was lamenting and felt the challenge to write a post myself about entrepreneurship — to see if I could do any better. You will now be the judge of that!

So, here’s this weeks 7 Top Thoughts on Entrepreneurship.

This weeks because next week I might have some new insights!

  1. A Community of Entrepreneurs.

As I travel I am aware that there is a major change happening. A change in how people see the world — particularly among the under 35’s. A new hunger for community and collaboration. A passion for impacting the world for good.

As a result we are starting to see and experience a new trend in the entrepreneurial sphere. It would seem that there is a momentum gathering for the demise of the lone entrepreneur. In its place we are starting to see this ‘new hunger for community and collaboration’ grow and gather pace. We are starting to observe a ’new’ phenomenon arise in the form of communities of entrepreneurs. However, as is true at the beginning of any new movement there is often a disconnect between the desire and the know-how, but despite this disconnect there is seems to be a fledgling movement happening. It is taking varying forms. The new entrepreneurs are not necessarily co-founding businesses (all though some are) but they are collaborating and supporting each other to achieve success. In the place of negative competitiveness comes intentional collaboration. it’s not that these ‘new entrepreneurs’ are not competitive in the market place — they are often more ferocious — but in the process they are ‘for’ one another.

The rise of co-working spaces (particularly in areas where great innovation is happening) is either a direct result of these entrepreneurial communities existing or a major contributor to them forming. It is a little of both and what is clear is that this ‘fledgling movement’ is starting to get some traction! Yes, it needs nurturing, and encouraging. We probably need to find ways of experimenting and educating each other but if we continue on this journey it will help us put innovation, creativity and collaboration at the forefront of the drive to a new world. This is a big subject perhaps we’ll give it a more thorough examination in the future.

2. Set your aspirations high.

In this present environment we need entrepreneurs who have a bigger aspiration than to just make a living or even to make loads of money. We need a generation of entrepreneurs that have the aspiration to, at the very least, impact their own community and the community around them for good but preferably to impact the world around them.

So it’s time to dream big about changing things around.

3. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

We live in a risk averse world where it’s all about risk assessments, health and safety policies and the fear of litigation but entrepreneurs have to be risk takers — it is the nature of the ‘call’. Everyone makes mistakes, real entrepreneurs make more because they take more risks. It becomes part of their story! It is the story of their journey to growth, both as people and as a business. So embrace the pain of failure. Learn how to fail well. To ‘fail well’ means we don’t try to hide or cover up our mistakes. If we allow them into the ‘light’ then we can better see what went wrong and learn the lessons we need to as well as being able to see and correct wrong attitudes or thinking or practices.

I love proverbs, and here’s one of my favourites:

“Where there are no oxen, the stalls are clean, but from the strength of an ox comes abundant harvests”.

The idea being that if you want the benefits (power) of the ox you have to also have the mess! Entrepreneurship can be messy but often that’s where we find the greatest innovation.

4. Don’t be afraid to have some overlapping of skills within your start-up.

This is especially true in the early stages of your company formation. In startups, you have to critically think about how many people you truly need but also what type of people you need. In these early stages having people in specialist areas isn’t necessarily an advantage, especially in terms of community formation, initiative taking, idea sharing and nurturing values and creative energy. It is also a helpful from a practical aspect such covering times of holiday and sickness.

5. Diversity is to be encouraged!

If all the people in your start-up look the same, you probably don’t have enough diversity of thought, culture and experience. Find the best person for the job, but look for people that won’t agree with your worldview all the time. Sometimes it is better to bring someone in and train them because they add something different to the community than take the person that has all the training but is ‘fixed’ to their way or even the excepted way of doing things. Working with people who don’t think like you is one of the best decisions you can make. But Beware — one area where this isn’t good is in the area of your essential values — you need people that are driven from the same essential values as you.

6. Encourage the use of the mystical as inspiration.

For example we don’t really understand the universe yet — it is a mystery, it is mystical. It intrigues us but also inspires us and we keep exploring and investigating it. In the same way, there is no limit to what you can create. Creating things is quite a mystical concept. Where do ideas or breakthrough solutions come from? Some of it is about discipline and hardwork but some of it is that mystical notion of pure inspiration! Therefore, encourage breakthrough thinking, ideas and innovation. The reality is that we are only going to achieve big things if they dream and imagine big things. If we don’t believe there is anything to be discovered, to be created, we will stay in our comfort zone and create very little — and even what we create is going to be mediocre. We need to nurture an environment of discovery and belief that the mystery can be found or harnessed to create, invent and innovate!

7. You control your destiny when you control your money.

The more external money you bring in the more external influence you bring in and the less real control of your company and destiny you have. I once heard a prominent and very successful business icon answer the question “What has been your biggest mistake?” say –“…our biggest mistake was to ‘float’ our company. We raised loads of money but we lost the ability to direct and drive our own destiny — we had always been interested in impacting our world for the good but the shareholders were only really interested in us making profit”. Perhaps a little harsh but gives you an insight into how external investment can end up driving you in a direction you don’t want to go or even replace you altogether!

So, there’s my attempt at writing a blog post that lives up to the title of being about entrepreneurship! But the real question is did I succeed!? only you can decide.

grant o'sullivan