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The entrepreneur in me

Throughout the process of starting a business you hear a lot about entrepreneurs, people who have done this, that and the other – all hugely successfully of course. Names like Richard Branson and Alan Sugar are bandied around, and while I’m quite happy to hear Little Leaf in the same sentence as Virgin (less so with Viglen), I am well aware that I have to temper my ego with the fact that I have over-enthusiastic friends and family.

Does buying a little guest house in St Ives make Danny and I entrepreneurs? While I’d like to think so, I believe a more detailed exploration of the word (ref. Wikipedia) is required.

“An entrepreneur is a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture or idea and is accountable for the inherent risks and the outcome”

Am very much feeling the accountability and risks at the moment. Eating 3 mince pies in a row while panicking about the mortgage repayments helped a little, but an hour later I just felt fat, poor, and still a little panicky (although this could have been the excess sugar).

“Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to a person who is willing to launch a new venture or enterprise and accept full responsibility for the outcome”

The words ‘willing’ and ‘full responsibility’ in the same sentence are interesting. Risk averse by nature, the last 6 months have been relatively out of character for me. I dislike responsibility and am rarely willing to do things that mean I have to take some. Having had some kind of salaried job for the last 14 years, responsibility for my working life has not been high on the agenda. A die-hard party girl throughout my 20s, my only concern was that I had enough money to pay for pretty cocktails at the best bars, and buy enough pairs of shoes and dresses to look good while standing there.

With all that in mind this idea of being willing to take full responsibility is pretty alien to me; and maybe a more appropriate turn of phrase would be to say that I have been forced to take full responsibility, with acceptance still being quite a way off.

“The entrepreneur leads the firm or organisation and also demonstrates leadership qualities by selecting managerial staff”

Now this I did get right: I selected Danny. While at the time I wasn’t quite sure what I selected him for, it’s come to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

“Entrepreneurs also often possess innate traits such as extroversion…”

Tick.

“An entrepreneur characteristically innovates, introduces new technologies, increases efficiency, productivity, or generates new products or services”

Hmmm… I’m not sure my work colleagues would agree with that one. Efficient I might be, but I’m not sure I increase efficiency across the board. My constant chatter at work and tendency to panic when under pressure might suggest that I need to hand over the operations side of the business to Danny.

Now, according to Wikipedia (and I must admit to there being gaps in my research into this subject), there are 3 types of entrepreneurs: (i) Social (ii) Serial (iii) Lifestyle. Even before reading the traits of all three I guessed that I would fall into the third one… and this is backed up by the first sentence in the explanation:

“A lifestyle entrepreneur places passion before profit when launching a business…”

Tick.

“…in order to combine personal interests and talent with the ability to earn a living”

I hope so.

“A lifestyle entrepreneur intentially chooses a business model intended to develop and grow their business in order to make a long-term, sustainable and viable living working in a field where they have a particular interest, passion, talent, knowledge or high degree of expertise”

Interesting. While I am developing an interest, some knowledge, and a bit of expertise in the hospitality sector, I must confess to having zero to start with and I’m a long way from ‘high degree of’.

Passion – not a problem, I have that in spades; it’s a little scatter-gun as I can get equally passionate about a cheesecake as I can about Little Leaf, but it’s definitely there.

Finally…

“Common goals held by the lifestyle entrepreneur include earning a living doing something that they love, earning a living in a way that facilitates self-employment, achieving a good work/life balance”

And that’s what it’s all about really. I’m not a traditional entrepreneur yet I’m lucky enough to have found something that inspires me. That, despite all the risks and terrifying leaps of faith, Danny and I are absolutely dedicated to being self-employed and doing something that we (more than) suspect we will love.

I never imagined, for one teeny tiny second, that I would end 2010 where I have. I am no Richard Branson – with dreams of running empires since the age of 15. Nor am I an Alan Sugar – selling things out of the back of a van after leaving school 3 years early.

I stayed in education as long as I could (and even went back for more). I’ve relied on employers to look after me, providing me with holiday pay / sick pay and a regular income. I’ve spent more money on clothes in the last 10 years than some people spend in a lifetime, and not that long ago I believed that all you needed to do to have a good life was to ensconce yourself in a trendy bar with endless access to champagne. How things change, and how wonderful to have proof that you just NEVER KNOW what’s around the corner.

For the next two days all thoughts of entrepreneurship will be put aside while the merry season commences. After all good hospitality starts with constant thought of others, and I would be no kind of lifestyle entrepreneur if I couldn’t start by applying those principles on home turf.

Have a good Christmas all.

Lee Rotbart says:

Awww… I love you Michelle!! I think 100 breakfasts is a bit beyond us at the moment :-). Have a great Chrimbo. xxx

Michelle says:

Merry xmas to you two and the little leaf baby! I had a dream about you two and the little leaf last night (really!)… if real life is anything like my dream then you are going to have a mega sucessful business and make brekkie’s that attract ALOT of people (think you were serving roughly 100 in my dream!!) xx

Alyson Reay says:

Having spent time with you in your pursuit of higher education I have to say that I recognise the responsibility as well as the entrepreneurship in you…. and the passion and drive for results are beyond dispute! Have a great couple of days. x