HOW TO… be an entrepreneur in your day job.

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Some of us are not quite at the point of saying goodbye to the salary and entering the world of risk and unpredictability. However, guess what? You don’t have to kick the day job in order to start honing the skills of an entrepreneur. Whilst you are planning your future business, you can start to test your entrepreneurial ability now, at your desk, under the nose of your boss.

  1. Respond to a request with a suggestion – If you are planning on leaving your day job, it is often because there is something about it, maybe how it is run or what it actually does, that you do not like. SO since you’re planning your exit, why not challenge some of those things that drive you nuts. When asked to negotiate that sale or purchase on the usual terms, suggest a different tactic. If you are asked to, yet again, make that same salad for the Monday customers, suggest changing the ingredients a bit, for example adding a bit of chilli? If you are asked to do the rota for whatever, suggest a change that makes that rota better. Start to challenge the norm. That’s what you do as an entrepreneur right? You see what others do not and you push the boundaries.
  2. Be yourself – This one is difficult in an office environment or a store where you are reminded daily that it is better to conform than to be yourself. But hey, you’re about to go it alone so you may as well shine and encourage others to shine too. I have a few clients who are unapologetically themselves. They ask you the most direct questions or they decline to come to an event you’re hosting because they, in their words “can’t be bothered with that sort of thing”; I respect these clients. Try to be the person you want to be and see how people respond. Do those under you work harder for you? Do those above you listen more? You can then get a feel for how you will be perceived by others when you are running your own business.
  3. Get to know everyone – When you eventually go it alone, you’ll need to be a people person. You will need to let everyone know who you are, where you are and what you’re up to. You will need to market yourself. So why not start now? Start marketing who you are. If you’re in a big organisation, go and talk to other teams; pop up to the third floor and say hello to the person you email in accounts every Monday. Basically, start honing your networking skills.
  4. Say yes – If you are asked to do something new, do not shy away. If it is out of your comfort zone, step up and take the challenge. Sink or swim that’s what you’ll be doing as your own boss with no one to delegate to. You’ll be doing new things daily, from attending events to speaking at events, from negotiating contracts to drafting strategies. Just do it and get used to a) the initial fear and b) the adrenaline once you realise that, whether you’re doing it well or not so well, you are trying and you are learning.
  5. Ask for help – When you set up on your own it is all about resources. You will be calling in favours and hiring professionals at a competitive price. SO whilst you are still in a day job, get used to asking for help from the people who know how to do what you can’t. If you don’t really know how to use your computer, ask IT for help. If you’ve never been part of a pitch and want to learn, ask a colleague who has done one before. Get used to asking for help, NOW.

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How your business can help the world.

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Ok so what does business facilitate unintentionally, every day that can assist in breaking down barriers, prejudices, discrimination etc in one swift swoop…they bring PEOPLE, all kinds of crazy, different people together! Admittedly the intention isn’t initially to get everyone to hold hands and appreciate their various differences but it certainly ends up that way. You see in our common quest to make money, we end up fostering relationships with everyone and anyone because money doesn’t care about gender, sexual orientation, faith or race and that’s THAT. Anyone can make it.

Manufacturers and suppliers are all over the world, we drop an email to China, New York or London with a click. If there is a big event in our industry, we doll ourselves up and go and meet the cool kids with eager hand shakes and smiles of “give me your business“. In business, we don’t care whether your hand is black or white, if you are paying we will shake it and if you are talented we will hold it. Take McDonalds for example, there is a restaurant in pretty much every country with an airport. I’ll never forget the joy of seeing those golden arches after almost 3 months of eating spicy food (delicious as it was) for breakfast, lunch and dinner in beautiful India. I ate three McChicken sandwiches in one go at a familiar table, in a familiar decor and with a familiar service, nevertheless they also had masala fries and tandoori nuggets; amazing. McDonalds know that DIVERSITY and CULTURE is good for business.

Even the legal industry in the UK has recognised this. Traditionally pale, stale and male with degrees from Oxbridge only, the English legal profession is now more diverse than ever. In fact, globally, major law firms are continuously expanding all over the world, recruiting from oversees and right round the corner. Just go on to the website of Clifford Chance, Norton Rose Fulbright or Linklaters and have fun clicking on the sites of their many global offices. Even the ordinary pop star knows that culture and diversity pay, if you ever meet Beyonce, ask her where she HASN’T performed or Justin Bieber how many endorsements he has done in Japan! Ok you get it, but how does this HELP?

You see, in recognising that diversity and cultural awareness is good for business you help the world to stay connected and to integrate. Entrepreneurs, businesses and startups are key tools in building a community of human beings and not a community of “us and them” which politicians love to exploit. Imagine how much more we can achieve if we actively encouraged diversity and it wasn’t just a by product money making. If you own a restaurant and your beef suppliers are a farm in Scotland, a work trip to Scotland could really encourage relationships and mutual understanding. Or if you manufacture your clothes in China, going over and seeing with your own eyes, the place where your stock begins could encourage your Chinese team and also enlighten you to improving conditions for workers over there (this is an issue for another post on another blog). I’m sure this can all be put more elegantly but you get the gist right. I did a post on Corporate Responsibility which touched upon this BUT this post isn’t about your branding or your promotion its about YOU consciously making your company an educator to its employees and a friend to its customers; that’s how your business can help the world.

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What UK Apprentice 2015 winner, Joseph Valente, taught us.

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I’m going to be honest and say that this year’s UK Apprentice crop were not the best. My guilty pleasure, I was hooked from the start but I struggled to get behind one of the candidates and cheer them on. HOWEVER, a late bloomer but still a bloomer, Joseph Valente came to the forefront. With his comic moustache (which he later shaved), baby face and cheeky grin it was initially easy to dismiss him as someone contending for the “experience” but he soon proved us all wrong. Joseph had something that guarantees success in one form or another; Joseph had PASSION.

I’m not a plumber (I’m a lawyer as you may have guessed) but Joseph made me WANT to be a plumber! He made me believe that plumbing was the future, the only future. I began to think “hey maybe I could get a van and set up a plumbing business using his business model”. THAT is the POWER of passion. If you are passionate about your business you are always winning. You win investors, you win employees, you win customers, you WIN!

You also develop and push boundaries. Joseph grew his business over ten years, straight out of secondary school. Stopping and starting in reaction to every closed door and new direction. His passion gave him persistence to keep going, to keep trying  and eventually to succeed. But what is success when you have PASSION? Joseph was continuously being told that he already had a successful business so why did he need Lord Sugar’s investment? Joseph answered them with “I just want the world and everything in it”. What Joseph taught us is that success continuously changes when you have passion because as you begin to achieve your goals, your passion drives you forward to create and achieve new goals. It’s remarkable. Passion drives you to 1) achieve; 2) learn; and 3) grow continuously.

If you haven’t watched the UK Apprentice, just watch the penultimate episode in which Lord Sugar’s pals interrogate the candidates. What do you notice? Joseph isn’t scared and Joseph doesn’t have to lie. He knows his business inside out. Even when weaknesses are highlighted, he still leaves every interviewer BELIEVING in him. Whilst the other candidates appear flushed and annoyed, Joseph is EXCITED!

Now I’m not saying that the other candidates did not have passion, they did BUT it was not nearly as convincing as Joseph’s and that’s why he won!

So this was a different but essential post. As business owners you need to keep the fire burning. YOU are the fuel for the whole thing. It’s that age old saying, “if you don’t believe in yourself, no one will.” As a lawyer, I can tell you that it is so EASY working for the passionate ones. Often more demanding and involved they INSPIRE me and bring out some of my BEST work. Have you noticed what I’m passionate about? Read the “About” page.

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