Being an entrepreneur is, I think, a decision to reveal oneself to the world. Entrepreneurs are like artists in this way – expressing themselves in start-ups, rather than in clay or on canvas. To be successful, they have a fascinating compulsive side that drives them to keep going when all around people are telling them to ‘get a real job’. They are often compelled by a vision beyond the rest of us that allows them to stubbornly stick to the day to day of routinely trying, prototyping, selling, failing and building towards success.
For me, its even more encouraging when these brave souls craft solutions to social and environmental challenges. Both, because it reflect the values of the kind of people I like to work with, and because we need people to change the way the world works – we need people to rethink business, create different ways to fulfill human needs – ways that are restorative and generative.
I’ve been a part-of the start-up world for a very long time. I paid my way through University with a series of inventive small businesses. The best of these was one that was paid by stables to remove horse manure and then immediately resold it as fertiliser. Not that glamorous, but it helped pay my University bills!
More recently, I’ve been part of the start-up world in many ways –
- A coach and judge for multiple programmes – including InnovateUK, Climate-KIC, Mass Challenge and others.
- An advisor, consultant and manager building start-ups through innovation programmes for The Carbon Trust, Interface, M&S, SABMiller, Accenture and others.
- The originator of the Branson School for Entrepreneurship in CIDA University (South Africa).
- Supporting social start-ups in India and South Africa around issues incl. sanitation, carbon, etc.
- Being an entrepreneur!
I’ve built and sold and failed and succeeded as an entrepreneur in multiple sectors incl. FMCG, financial services and consulting. A foray into retail banking prior to the crash of 2007 was an epic fail. The FMCG business did exceptionally well. 6heads was an unexpected business that became a social movement.
I’ve started to gather my thoughts in this blog. I hope its useful! Please feel free to send comments and ideas.
My linkedin profile has further detail and references.
Most of all… Keep building new businesses. Businesses that can change the system. That can help people think differently. That can conserve and restore our planet. That can change the world.