#MADTIPS FOR FIRST TIME ENTREPRENEURS
Children dream. But what happens to those dreams that happened so freely? I used to dream that one day I would invent something amazing, but knew little of how to take anything from that or move it into reality. It was simply a dream. But it was built on the greatest tool I have – my mind and the ability to roam free in that mind to create dreams.
And the great lie about human existence, the one we buy into so much, is that we cannot make a difference. Everyone can, and everyone has already (and unknowingly) experienced how to do this – using the mind to roam free.
Eventually, as I grew, I started to learn more and wonder who to approach to start my own company to build real dreams. Perhaps you currently feel the same as I did, or today feel trapped in a corporate day job, but now you’ve got a chance to start that business you’ve always imagined.
I know you. I’ve met you. In fact, I am you. We’re MADInnovators.
As someone who has run companies, I’ve learned a few things over the years. And like other successful entrepreneurs, I love to encourage and mentor rising startup stars.
Here’s some of the hot tips I’ve learned along the way:
1. TAKE RISKS AND LEARN THE VALUE OF FEAR
One of the most exciting parts of being an entrepreneur is the thrill and exhilaration you get from seeing if something works. The major thing holding me back at times has been fear – fear of failing, fear of uncertainty, fear of judgement, so many fears that exist ONLY in the mind. Fear is my inner uncertainty trying to convince my conscious being that I am not good enough, that other people will make a better job of the task, that the idea is unsound. Don’t listen. Remember that fear can stand for “False Evidence Appearing Real”. It’s not true, it’s just your creative mind trying to think of the other side of the dream…the “what if”. Take fear to mean “Face Everything And Relax”; all will be OK in the end and if it’s not OK, it’s not yet the end.
Take the person you admire most in business. The person you see and admire today was very different at the start of their journey. The idea you now see working didn’t arrive fully formed like a beautiful, perfect baby. Every idea in the world needs work, commitment and a balance of what to touch, and what to leave. So fear is my head, not reality.
2. USE LINKEDIN.
LinkedIn has the potential to be a very effective business tool, but you need to use the tool and not simply press ‘connect’ to try and build your contacts. As the person on the other end of that connect request I may, or may not, look at your profile. What I need to see is something compelling that makes me think I’d like to connect. I need to know something about you aside from your CV. So post regular blogs and thoughts, tips and topics, but stay away from selling and stay away from personal thoughts. That’s not LinkedIn, that’s Facebook. Nothing turns me off a LinkedIn request more than a blatant sales pitch or a post that’s about politics, personal thoughts or why you think Donald Trump should/should not have been made President, why you agree/disagree with Brexit or sharing yet another quote-of-the-day taken from the internet that’s meant to be uplifting. They rarely are, and mostly just prove that the person sending them hasn’t got a thought of their own to share.
3. LEARN EVERY DAY.
Entrepreneurship is about solving problems and learning on the go. It’s exciting to learn new things, and as entrepreneurs we should be learning something new every day. That’s part of the gift of entrepreneurship. If you start the day with the plan to sit at the end of the day and ask “what one positive thing did I learn today, and what one negative thing?’ you will be a whole lot further down the track of enlightenment by the end of a week than at the beginning. Take 5-minutes each day to jot them down in a journal and keep a record of progress. It’s amazing what I realise I learn every day, every week and every month when I look at a journal. Most of it is forgotten if I simply say to myself “I must remember that”.
4. BE OPEN TO ADVICE.
Listening to the right advice is valuable to your business and your life. Advice doesn’t always require your agreement. Don’t be a busy fool by asking as many people as possible in order to get the answer you want. Sometimes, no matter how good I think my dreams seem, they are simply impractical. That doesn’t stop one or two ideas from that dream morphing into a more practical idea, but left alone with my own thoughts and my own judgments of my own thoughts I’ll convince myself the thought is either excellent or awful. Sometimes, in fact most times, they are neither. So ask. Be prepared to build a network of people whose judgment you trust, but also ask people who think differently to you – it gives another perspective.
5. BRAND YOURSELF.
No matter what you do, it’s important to have a strong personal brand. As an entrepreneur, branding yourself is your responsibility. But first you need to ask who you really are. Think of this as a personal vision, mission and values statement, but don’t fall into the trap that many companies fall into.
Try an experiment; pick 10-companies from government to multi-national to SME and take a look at their vision, mission and values online. Now take away the company name and see if you can notice ANY difference! Probably not, because ever business wants to be “the best” in their chosen field with staff, suppliers, clients and public. But it’s not true, at least in my experience. Most companies talk the talk, but fail to deliver. Try this – call one and see if anyone answers, and you’ll find that most companies with a vision, mission and values statement that talks of being “the best” don’t even answer their phones or, if they do, very poorly. So don’t lie to yourself about your personal brand, and if you state something, then deliver it. That’s every day in every way, in every interaction and in all instances. This is you on show to the world, so if you just want to ‘get by’, rethink your brand and rethink your motivation.
BONUS: HAVE FUN.
Do what you want, enjoy life, build the business and culture you’ve always dreamed of. Fun is infectious, and can help attract the right customers, the right team and all the right opportunities.
So if you like what you’ve read and want to gain access thousands of hours of awesome content from the world’s greatest minds and learn from our MAD Master’s, join the community today and the first month is on us!
WRITTEN BY NEIL WOOD
We had a grand celebration when my Grandfather retired, proud of the fact that he’d been at the same business for 45-years.
This year when my Father retires he can point to 3-companies in his career. Both would be unusual in today’s world, but both were professionally qualified as engineers, and the world now needs engineers more than ever.
Not me though. Personally I’m a long way from retiring (sadly also a long way from graduation!), but already have 8-businesses on my CV to date. I’ve had success in listed corporations and large private ones across the globe, but have also followed my own dreams by owning 2-businesses. I expect my daughters will see my career differently compared to theirs when they join the career merry-go-round soon.
Today’s employees are also employers, freelancers, project workers and more akin to an age when crafts-people took their craft to the people with the work.
My Grandfather has now sadly passed and, although I imagine he would have found it difficult be an employee in today’s world, I think he well understood the need for flexibility and change.
So why is this trip down memory lane important to starting your own MAD business?
Here’s a fun fact; in the UK (2016) 48% of young people in the prescribed age groups attend university, which is an increase from 12% in 1980. The UK is indicative of most developed or developing countries where the focus of governments across the world has been to encourage education. That’s a superb performance, and a great reflection of governments down the years.
However nearly 60% of those who graduate are not using the degree with which they graduated in the workplace. Aside from nearly 50% of the UK youth population entering the workplace carrying a debt of AED 200,000 from massive student loans, this also means there are more educated young people with aspirations in a more connected world who are unlikely to be employed (nor wish to be) by large international corporations or central government entities.
No, today’s graduates are bred differently. They are far more fluid and flexible in their aspirations and can follow dreams in a way previous generations had little opportunity to follow. They also positively influence the generations upwards. I am no believer in the old style thinking that we only learn from our elders; although that can be true, we have a massive amount to learn from our youth, and to bring that to bear in the world of business, social and entrepreneurial spirit.
Today, millions of people are taking control of their own destiny and have started, or are considering starting, a business for good reasons.
But the French have a saying (don’t they always?); plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. It broadly means the more something changes, the more it’s actually the same thing. In other words, the basics remain the same.
The channels to business may change, but the fundamentals remain the same. We still need an idea, a plan, some investment, time and the age-old requirements of a supply chain with a buyer at the end. The road may look different from my Grandfather’s time, but the road is still full of human ideas and human brains.