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Let’s get down to business – start thinking like you are an entrepreneur

 Published on: 29th January 2014   |   By: Nik Allen

Have you ever wondered why entrepreneurs are often called mavericks? It’s because by their very nature they don’t sit quietly for fear of stepping on someone’s toes or follow the rules. They tend to make their own rules as they go along.

I have been giving the nature of entrepreneurism a lot of thinking lately after a visit to the Entrepreneur’s Club in Harrow.

The club is a membership circle for people who run their own businesses and is run by Nigel Botterill, a successful entrepreneur and business coach. I was invited along by a friend. But as I am already part of a networking group I was sceptical. Was it worth schlepping down to Harrow on a wet winter’s night after a long day in the office?

Well yes actually it was. When I left a few hours later I was energised, invigorated and buzzing with ideas.

I started my own business from my garden shed back in 2006. I decided I wanted to publish my own local news magazine. I knew nothing about publishing, or printing, but managed to pull together a copy of My Abbots News in April 2006.

I wrote the stories, sold the adverts and delivered the magazines myself. I was naïve, but determined and managed to produce a new issue every month.

Along the way many people gave me advice. A retired printer rang to tell me I was using the wrong font. An experienced editor rang to make suggestions about layout – yes the first issue of My Abbots did not include paragraphs, I was worried about wasting space. I listened and generally acted on most of the advice.

I now publish ten magazines and deliver (not literally myself anymore, but through a distribution team) to some 70,000 homes in south west Hertfordshire every month.
It’s been quite a journey to get this point. I have made some mistakes, picked up some great tips and, perhaps most importantly, met some fantastic people along the way.
My visit to the EC reminded me of why I do what I do – because I love it. And while there is a part of me that enjoys the idea of one day retiring to sit on a beach in Brighton, drink in hand, the reality is, I just don’t think I could do it.

I love a challenge, I love new ideas. I don’t think I could sit still.

The EC made me ask a lot of questions about why I do what I do. It also reminded me of some time-honoured principles. Here are some of them in a nutshell.

– Question how your business does business. Just because you have always done things a certain way, or that was the best way to do things a couple of years ago, is it still the best way to do things? If not make changes

– Who do you surround yourself with? Positive people or moaning minnies?

– How do you manage your time? In other words “will it make the boat go faster?” That was the analogy used by the men’s rowing eight when preparing for the Sydney Olympics. Everything they did as part of their training served a clear purpose and helped them achieve their goal? Needless say the team won gold.

Guest speaker at the EC meeting was Damian Mark Smyth author of a book called Do Nothing!. This might sound like the antithesis of entrepreneurism – all successful entrepreneurs are in fact “doers”.

But his argument is that we have the tools to succeed within ourselves already, we just get stuck into a mindset which stops us achieving.

Smyth argues we create hurdles, barriers and excuses in our minds which limit our success. If we can put the hang-ups and frustrations to one side we can actually get on with doing what we want to do.

The entire evening certainly made me dust off the old thinking cap and I have since had a couple of “light bulb” moments in terms of business ideas. So watch this space.

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