Original article written by Stephen Fear for the Urban Times July 2013.
Urban Times entrepreneurial expert Stephen Fear considers what exactly makes an entrepreneur and provides some helpful tips for getting started on the path to success:
Interestingly, the noun ‘entrepreneur’ derives from the French and means ‘organiser’. Entrepreneurs are traders: some work for a corporation whereas others who cherish their independence are self-employed.
Independence is therefore one way of distinguishing between different types of entrepreneur. Independent entrepreneurs are mavericks, in my opinion. There is something about them that sets them apart from the crowd- something more financial success alone. Some of their ideas fail and some prosper, albeit briefly, whereas others may influence the course of history. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook- all of these companies were started by independent entrepreneurs.
In many ways becoming an independent entrepreneur is an act of revolution, not of course in a political sense but that of the insistence of the individual to be just that, individual.
An independent entrepreneur wants to produce a solid expression of his or her desires and dissatisfactions, usually in a positive way for the benefit of society.
Thrown to the Dogs
In medieval times men competed at jousting or archery- today the world of business provides the stage for these battles. As in times gone by, you have to be fighting fit to survive and prosper.
You may not get physically eaten as you might have in 1013 but the term “thrown to the dogs” still exists.
Of course it’s about making money, but for me at least it has always been about more than that. Interesting projects abound and getting involved and solving problems make me get up in the morning. What else would I do with my time? Lay on a beach? That’s great for a few hours, but even then not without a book or a newspaper in order to keep up with what opportunities are out there.
I just love new projects, at the moment we are looking at a new form of sentiment software, developing our Ethical Homes brand with the aim of providing affordable homes for key workers and others that are priced out of the market, as well as talking with some serious academics about breaking down the DNA of the AIDS virus. If that’s not enough to keep us interested then we have our association with the various charity’s. This is all in addition to my role at The British Library where I am both Entrepreneur in Residence and an Ambassador.
My reason for mentioning the above isn’t to blow my trumpet but to demonstrate that my original comment at the start of this article isn’t just rhetoric, it is fact. Entrepreneurs must be organisers. Unless you are organised you have little chance of becoming successful, in my opinion, not as an entrepreneur at least. It is still possible to win the lottery I suppose, but succeeding as an entrepreneur requires more than just an idea or desire, it requires aspiration, inspiration and perspiration- all wrapped up in organisation- if you really want to succeed.
I have written in the past about how I organise myself and have created a system to reduce mundane tasks so that they are dealt with automatically so that I am left with the more exciting job of finding new opportunities.
One thing I leant very early on is that paperwork seldom goes away on its own and the longer you leave it the worse it gets, so automating how you deal with it is essential if like me you prefer deal doing rather than paperwork shuffling.
I allocate one full day every week to deal with what I call ‘office stuff’. It doesn’t matter where I am in the world- that one full day, which in my case means 14 hours, is spent clearing my desk. Thanks to modern technology this no longer means that I need to be in my office because I have digitised my administration so that I can just as easily work from France or the US as I can from the UK, or even Africa or Brazil.
Focus on your Laptop
My tip would be to focus on your laptop or tablet if you want real freedom. Once you have created a truly paperless office it goes everywhere with you.
Ringing someone, even on a mobile from New York to London, is still a lot cheaper and more efficient than travelling across time zones and with Skype it is even free at the time of writing.
I started in a red phone box but am thankful to the entrepreneur who developed the smart phone because without him or her, I might well have back ache by now! We live in a brilliant age for the entrepreneur, an age where almost anything is possible and most things are probable. That is, if you’re organised of course.
Original article for the Urban Times July 2013.