By Nick Stone, Co-founder and COO of FIXR
Becoming an entrepreneur is arguably one of the most challenging yet rewarding career journeys anyone can embark on. Today, being referred to as an ‘entrepreneur’ is widely associated with success, and consequently is often the driver for many going out on their own with a new business venture.
However, as success isn’t a given, and failure at times is inevitable, the question of “should you become an entrepreneur?” ought not to be mistaken with “would you like to become an entrepreneur?”. For some, entrepreneurship is the ultimate career, yet for others, it simply might not be the right fit.
For me, I always harboured an ambition to have my own business, despite a traditional start to my career in law and banking. In 2015, I faced the question of becoming an entrepreneur head-on and co-founded event technology specialist FIXR.
The pros of being an entrepreneur
The best thing about being an entrepreneur is being able to do your own thing.
Starting something from scratch that you’re truly passionate about is intimidating, but exciting. Being an entrepreneur is a learning experience and an opportunity to get to know who you are and what you’re made of. In the beginning, you’re often not able to bring in the expertise and advice that you desire and thus, by default, you’re forced into working things out yourself.
Once you start bringing people into the business, getting to work alongside brilliant individuals and witnessing them make their mark is immensely rewarding. You begin to build a supportive community, almost a family, around something that you have started.
It’s easy as an entrepreneur to look inwards, focusing on getting to the next milestone. When you reach a goal, you automatically set a new one, and your expectation level shifts to align with this new purpose. You can forget to stop and look at what you’ve accomplished and reflect on the successes you and your company have achieved.
FIXR started as an idea and we’re now a 40-person company that is growing every day. The successes I’ve experienced as an entrepreneur can be measured by the team and culture that we have created at FIXR, and the product we have built and evolved to become an industry challenger.
The cons of being an entrepreneur
When your heart is really in it, work and life bleed into one another, and switching off disappears from the agenda. It’s naive to believe that this doesn’t have an impact of those around you, and it’s important to acknowledge that your loved ones are on this journey with you.
You can never fully prepare yourself for what the experience is going to entail. I’d like to think that we started FIXR with our eyes open, but the nature of entrepreneurship is unpredictable. Being an entrepreneur is all-consuming and can be stressful. When lows happen, you must be resilient.
When your business faces challenges, it’s difficult not to look to yourself and ask, ‘why has that happened?’. However, you must go through these hardships in order to become robust and for the company to grow.
My advice to entrepreneurs
Not understanding the market you’re seeking to enter is a common mistake entrepreneurs make. The excitement of starting your own company can manifest itself as impatience, resulting in corners being cut and processes being rushed. The more you understand the market and how your business is going to operate within it, the better off you’re going to be.
People are your business. If you fail to get hiring right, you are risking a lot of what you’ve worked towards. Creating a thriving, enjoyable company culture is fundamental to a business. Ultimately, it is your employees that will propel your company forward and, as a founder, you have to trust them to make your vision a reality.
There is an abundance of talent out there, and people are often cautious to take the plunge into starting their own business, partly because we don’t champion failure as much as we should in the UK. There are countless examples of incredibly successful businesses that didn’t get it right the first time. It is part of the entrepreneurial journey and often you must fail in order to succeed.
The next generation of entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs are the people that are going to bring new ideas and products to the market. They are fearless and creative, and drive change for the future of society, therefore, their importance can’t be underestimated.
The beauty of being a young entrepreneur, is that, in theory, you shouldn’t have the kind of responsibility you may have when you’re older and you can afford to take risks. You need to embrace these risks, even if you don’t have the traditional skill set or education people may expect.
At FIXR, we have a lot of involvement with the University market. Being rooted in the events industry we see a lot of people experimenting with entrepreneurship at a young age. We provide software to help event organisers manage and run successful events. Earning money by promoting events or selling tickets, being a performer or organising an event is a small business in itself. To succeed, you have to learn about sales, marketing, connecting with your customer base and delivering a good customer experience; all of which are trademark skills of an entrepreneur.
The reality of entrepreneurship is not glamorous – it is risky, hard work and stressful. Building your own business is one of the hardest things you can do, and even if you are lucky enough to reap the rewards, you need to ensure that you are ready to face the challenges that will come your way.
Whether you’ve been hesitantly sitting on an idea your whole life or are fresh out of school ready to take on the world of business, you’ll never truly know the extent of your capabilities until you try.