Taking the plunge into entrepreneurship or even considering launching a startup comes with its own challenges, risks and rewards. Over the years, I have learnt a couple of things that have helped me on my entrepreneurship journey that can definitely help any aspiring entrepreneur prepare for what’s to come.
No one is born an entrepreneur
If there is one thing I can wholeheartedly agree with is that no one is born an entrepreneur. Sure, you may be born into a family full of business owners or leaders but true entrepreneurs are made of years of hard work and more failures than successes. These entrepreneurs are perseverant and resourceful. The option of being an entrepreneur wasn’t handed to me, I began my career by doing something completely different to what I do now.
My first job after school was in a paint factory and three years later I decided to move on to something bigger and better. I had always enjoyed playing arcade games and thought perhaps I could make a career of making my own computer games, that’s when I registered for an Information Technology course. It’s important to always acknowledge your childhood passions because it often leads to a fulfilling career path. I may not have ended up developing computer games but it greatly contributed to my passion for technology and problem solving.
A good business idea doesn’t fall on your lap
A good business idea doesn’t just fall into your lap, it often emerges from realising there are gaps in the market. Start off by identifying a gap in the marketing and taking it – first! It is extremely difficult to come up with a mind blowing idea that hasn’t already hit the market, so if your idea isn’t the first, always aim to be the best. Being entrepreneurial requires you to always be ‘switched on’ and looking for workable solutions to market problems. Always ask yourself, “what’s my business’s unique value proposition?” and “what makes us different from the rest?” The answers may not always lie in your solution, sometimes it lies with your team’s experience and company culture.
I had been in business Intelligence for many years. After noticing that all the advice and solutions offered were very IT based, projects took too long to deliver and there never seemed to be any real customer success. I instantly identified a market need for a different approach to IT projects and the engagement with the customers. e-Magination uses Excel to build automated reports for clients, which means the process of building solutions has a much faster turnaround time and customers don’t need to have training to use the solution.
It might not be your first idea that sticks, or the second, or the third…
I have dabbled with many ideas for business, including different models of my current successful business. In the early 2000s I wasn’t as familiar with the concept of a startup, at that time I was selling dial-up connections and even had an idea to service new doctors’ surgeries. I did not have the capital or know-how to go about “funding” my business ideas at that stage.
It was in 2007 that I knew corporate life was not for me; I wanted to have a much more direct influence in the decisions being made which impacted the solutions the clients received at the end. That was how e-Magination was born, and after eight years I’ve had a great time. The growth has been amazing and we have learnt so much along the journey.
Being an entrepreneur may be the hardest thing you will ever have to do – but it is not impossible. There will be some hard roads in your journey to building a solid business beyond the funding model, so be prepared. Being a successful entrepreneur is kind of an after-the-fact kind of realisation, the last thing I thought I’d be doing is running a business! But if it’s a good idea, give it everything you’ve got – there will be plenty of learning curves, but they will keep you agile and shape the business that might be your big success one day.