What I've learned from entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship has become a topic of its very own, studied in universities, colleges and even corporate institutions. Learning how to become an entrepreneur was unheard of when I was at school - it certainly never came up in the pointless questionnaires which told us which career we were destined for.
But is entrepreneurship something you can learn, or learn from?
I was never taught how to be an entrepreneur; I’ve pretty much made it up as I’ve gone along. But I’ve learned a huge amount from being an entrepreneur. Starting and running your own business pushes you into places that you never conceived before. It puts every aspect of your personality under the spotlight and puts pressure on every relationship you have. You can’t help but learn something new every day.
Finding tools and strategies to manage stress is essential.
There’s lots of content out there about the mental toll that entrepreneurship takes on you. And it’s really not to be underestimated. There’s always something to worry about, whether it’s cashflow, customer acquisition or recruitment and retention, the only thing you can be certain of is that there’s no certainty when it comes to running your business. This can be extremely difficult to cope with on a day-to-day basis and requires you to develop a mental strength that you probably never appreciated before you started this journey.
Finding tools and strategies to manage stress is essential. There’s thousands of books, videos and blogs out there about developing your mindset, building resilience and managing your emotions and, if you cut through the crap, some of these are very insightful. If you read enough you’ll soon realise that there’s no magic to it. Looking after our minds and bodies is key - eat well, get enough sleep, exercise, meditate and spend time with the people you love. All easier said than done, right?!
Since starting my business 3 years ago, I’m aware that I’ve changed significantly in many ways. I’ve developed as a lawyer, a leader and a person. I’m more confident and resilient and in-tune with my body. When your business and your team is reliant on you being there, you realise that sick days are a luxury you can’t afford. Even having off-days, which we all do, sets you back. So I exercise every day, follow a plant-based diet, don’t drink alcohol and am always in bed by 10pm (earlier if possible!). I don’t work 9 to 5 - I know what times of day I’m most and least productive and try to plan my days accordingly.
It’s sometimes difficult to remember why you’re putting yourself through all this, which is why it’s important to define your purpose; your reason for doing this, so you can remind yourself when things are tough. It needs to be for more than just money to be sustainable. For me, I was so disillusioned by the legal industry, it’s archaic, conventional practices and lack of inclusiveness that I reached a cross-road in my life. I either left the industry completely or I tried to change it. I opted for the latter and haven’t looked back.
Being an entrepreneur certainly has its highs and lows and it’s not right for everyone. But if it’s something you want to do, my advice would be to go for it. Keep an open mind; be prepared to make mistakes and learn more about yourself than you ever imagined. I still have a great deal to learn, but I embrace each day and look forward to what it’s going to teach me.