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The Life Of An Entrepreneur: My Own Reflections

June 29, 2021 / Comments (0)


There is something very luring and compelling about the life of an entrepreneur and when I started my entrepreneurial journey nearly forty years ago, I hadn’t even heard of the word!

To me, I was going to be a businessman and that meant going out and starting a business which meant finding the cash, locating premises (there was no such thing as working from home), designing a nice company logo, getting some letterheads, business cards and if you had enough money…maybe a nice fancy brochure.

When I left school, I went to college and that was simply because I had no idea about what I was going to do and while I was at college, I worked in the evenings selling home improvements door-to-door.

Eventually, I set up my own business doing the same, but with the freedom of being able to sell the leads, I was generating to any company I wanted to — the highest bidder in fact, rather than being on a salary that was good and dependable, but way short of the money I could earn.

Although this was technically my first business, I really don’t consider it a business because I and my partners were just playing at it and we had absolutely no real business qualifications or knowledge, other than being able to sell.

We earned a small fortune compared to many during that time, but we spent far more than we earned and eventually we shut it down owing a few thousand pounds to the bank that was guaranteed by my mother and the parents of my other partner.

Unemployable

Life for me would never be the same again — my school friends were either at university en route to becoming a professional (doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc.), enrolling in apprenticeships, or taking any job they could to earn money and escape the world of education.

I was unemployable and although I had to take various jobs over the years either to learn something new or make ends meet, I would never see myself as working for anyone and for any length of time.

Without knowing it, I was developing my entrepreneurial spirit, which has grown and still burns deep inside me today.

Take a look at this article from Forbes — It is an old one, but still relevant and it talks about the real definition of an entrepreneur and why it matters.

I’m going to give you my own views on entrepreneurial life and in the hope that it will help and inspire your own journey, which is the essence of this blog.

Related:

How I started my first business from a living room in London.

Entrepreneur vs business owner: Is there a difference?

Entrepreneurial Life At A Glance

This is where people usually talk about the flowing of ideas, the creative elements, and then the challenges of raising enough capital to put those ideas into action.

But for me, it starts way before those things and for me, it was about learning to live with myself!

Let me explain:

An entrepreneurial mindset is a different mindset — it’s a way of thinking that to me, keeps you connected to your child-like state.

I believe you are born with all of the qualities needed to be an entrepreneur and when you are young, you are naturally fearless, bold, call it what you want — you have a huge sense of imagination and adventure, plus you live in your own virtual world.

Imagination

Life-Of-An-Entrepreneur-Imagination

I remember talking to my imaginary friends and then being laughed at when I was young, for doing so, then over the years as I grew up, I was firmly told that I needed to “grow up.”

But those imaginary friends, the dream world that I lived in, and the endless possibilities that could exist in that world have never left me — that, to me, is the essence of entrepreneurial thinking, which of course, is the essence of being an entrepreneur.

The trouble is that all of us have those same experiences and then we become disconnected from them, simply because we are taught otherwise.

So for me, I have maintained a strong connection to my childhood experiences, that really take me off track, as far as living in the “normal” working world…whatever that may be.

I told someone once, who was seriously failing to grasp the concepts I was trying to explain (or more to the point, I was not explaining them well enough), to bear with me because I have to wake up with myself every morning and I have absolutely what scenario I will be playing out throughout the day!

And at this point in my life, I was running a multi-million dollar business.

Related:  Ten tips to develop your entrepreneurial mindset.

Beginning The Journey

I really hadn’t figured out the entrepreneurial part of life when I started my first business and as I have said, I had never even heard of the word, “entrepreneur.”

Nevertheless, the seeds were firmly planted and the roots were beginning to grow.

Life-Of-An-Entrepreneur-Entrepreneurial-Journey

Running that first business gave me exposure to the world of business and how to operate (or not in my case), commercially…but it did wonders for my imagination.

My partner and I were constantly looking at every business we encountered — law firms, kitchen manufacturers, lighting companies, restaurants, hotels…you name it, we looked at it, and soon we were formulating our own plans to run each of those businesses better than the owners!

It was a feeling and had nothing to do with having any form of expertise or experience, it was purely run on instinct and our own limited experiences.

That feeling has stayed with me throughout my life and when you are constantly searching for anything to make you better, you will never settle for what you have…which is a double-edged sword!

At the peak of my entrepreneurial career, I enjoyed all of the trappings of success, but in reality, it was a blur — I thought that successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople needed to show the fruits of their hard-earned labor and when I gradually came back down to earth, I realized as I do today, that none of it really matters.

My journey was started in the humble world of direct marketing and it was an experience that shaped my entire career.

From that beginning and armed with a passion for knowledge, I never stood still and never looked back. Because of my inquisitive nature, I was able to create a ton of opportunities along the way, many of which took my focus away from what I should have been doing at the time.

Trying To Stay Focussed

Entrepreneurs are renowned for their lack of attentiveness and I was no exception.

When you are naturally inquisitive, passionate about what you do, and driven, opportunities seem to come your way.

Life-Of-An-Entrepreneur-Focus

I was no exception.

When I started my main business, which was in the staffing services sector, I should have knuckled down right from the start and focussed purely on making it a success.

In my mind, I was doing exactly that…but there was always a “get rich quick” scheme or investment opportunity to look at, and again, I thought that was the idea of entrepreneurship, the way an entrepreneur was supposed to run their lives.

After a few investments and trying to diversify my interests, I had lunch with my then accountant — we were talking and I was asking him if he knew of any good investments or opportunities to accelerate my wealth.

His reply and although annoying at the time, was to focus purely on my business because it is the best investment with regard to time and money that a businessman or entrepreneur could make in their lives.

Gaining Momentum

With my newfound focus, I found that entrepreneurial life was now more enjoyable and I was soon enjoying the fruits of my success.

There is one lesson I learned very early on in my sales career and that was never to make money the focus of your efforts, no matter as a salesperson, entrepreneur, or businessman.

Life-Of-An-Entrepreneur-Gaining-Momentum

When I focussed on making money as a salesperson, my performance and success were erratic — I was fortunate enough to have some good mentors around me over the years and one guy, who was one of the most successful salespeople I have ever met, even to this day, explained to me that you must focus intently on your customers…and their success.

This was a quick and easy lesson to learn and soon, I was researching my customers and industry incessantly and with the knowledge I had gained.

Coupled with the other key bit of advice he gave me, I was soon contacting CEO’s, executive leaders, and influential people of my target customers explaining the value I had to offer them and their companies, through the services I had specifically aligned to them and in relation to the problems and challenges they faced.

All through conducting key and detailed research.

You see, as my mentor had explained to me — if you are not engaged at the highest levels with your clients, you are really wasting your time.

You have to work with the people who have ultimate control and who are the ultimate decision-makers, otherwise, your hard work and effort are going to be placed with someone who will have to go to these people on your behalf.

And no matter what relationship you have with your contacts, they will never promote or sell your business in the same way that you do.

Once I embraced this with all of my entrepreneurial spirits, my business took off like a rocket!

Here’s an old but relevant article from Forbes talking about keeping your entrepreneurial spirit alive if you are working for an organization, which of course, is vital.

You don’t have to be in business to be an entrepreneur!

Related: Sales training: The ultimate guide to help you become a key influencer.

The Life Of An Entrepreneur: Having Children

Having my first child at the age of forty was the most exhilarating and frightening experience of my life.

Responsibility takes on a whole new meaning with children, as I am sure many of you know…but an entrepreneur’s life is never really a secure one.

And that’s when I became frightened.

No matter how successful you are, there is always a little doubt in your mind that reminds you it could all end tomorrow, or even later that day!

Success and failure (or learning as I prefer to describe the word) are two sides to the same coin — and you never know which one you are going to face.

I have been tested many times during my career and have survived three recessions and other events that would have knocked most people senseless and that brings up another quality of all successful entrepreneurs:

They never quit!

But having children (I later had two more), was also a life-changing event and in other ways.

Spirituality

I have always been drawn to the fact that there is something “more” to this world.

Life-Of-An-Entrepreneur-Gaining-Spirituality

I can’t say that I’m religious, although at one time was deeply attracted to religion.

Looking at this world and the way it is constructed, you can see from nature that everything has been constructed perfectly.

In my opinion anyway.

When my daughter was a baby, I would marvel as to how she would suddenly burst out laughing in her sleep — as she grew older, I would also watch how she would be happy around certain people and extremely stressed by others.

And one day she told me there were people talking on our driveway, when we were living in Dallas, Texas.

There was nobody there, but that didn’t stop her from describing them to me.

I must also add that I have also seen a ghost myself!

But that’s another story.

The instinctive nature of children, who are not taught anything always fascinates me and my two other sons have also demonstrated abilities and things that are not normal…but that aside, I learned so much from having children and being around them, that benefitted my life and career so much.

I believe we are all born with the qualities we need in life — boldness, fearlessness, imagination, creativity, and most importantly…our instinct.

But for many of us, especially myself, we become disconnected from those core qualities that will allow us to succeed in anything we choose.

Conclusion

These are just a few reflections on my own life as an entrepreneur and of course, there are many, many more.

You will have your own reflections on life, whether you are an entrepreneur or someone who is looking to connect with their entrepreneurial spirit.

The life of an entrepreneur is an exciting one, no matter what the eventual outcome and that is one other thing I can tell you:

I had the most success when I didn’t focus on the outcome of what I was doing.

I’m not talking about sales and selling here when you are intently focussed on the outcome for your clients, but more about those endless meetings, presentations, and events where you are desperately looking for a positive outcome.

Once I focussed on doing the best I could and by preparing accordingly, the outcome was almost irrelevant, as I knew I could repeat it as often as needed!

Stay focussed, if that is possible with an entrepreneurial drive and spirit, and enjoy the journey!

Neil Franklin

Neil Franklin-Entrepreneur

Last modified: June 29, 2021

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