Hi there Teabirds
Little old me has been asked to share my experiences and invaluable advice (ah hem!) as a young entrepreneur. So tomorrow, I’m taking part in StartUpBritain’s Bus Tour as it stops off in my home town during its nationwide tour of colleges and universities. It’s designed to inspire, support and encourage young people get their business ideas up and running.
It is also Global Entrepreneurship Week next week (second most important thing of the week – my birthday being the first!) so perhaps a good week to start offering my words of wisdom as I promised. Although, that said, I make no promises that I wont descend into ramblings about skiing or cake.
I really don’t consider myself an entrepreneur even though I keep getting invited to speak at these types of events and even though I have actually set up a business. That might make me brave, or stupid- you pick, but not an entrepreneur.
In fact, it may surprise you to learn I subscribe to the E-myth school of thought (This has nothing to do with the business book/theory titled such by Michael Gerber!). My E-myth is that there is no such thing as a Entrepreneur with a capital E – Someone who is born an Entrepreneur just like someone may be born a redhead.
Of course, social influences may help people appear a born ‘Entrepreneur’ (my psychology modules are coming through a bit here!). A nurturing up-bringing can help individuals develop confidence and obstacles or difficulties growing up can instill determination. Obviously, wealthy, well connected parents certainly help a great deal. From my experience, the latter seems to be the case for most people calling themselves Entrepreneurs.
I firmly believe anyone can pursue their dreams of setting up their own business regardless of their nature or nurture. I’m not trying to say that having no money or not having the right skill sets isn’t a massive obstacle in pursuing this dream, it certainly makes things more challenging but never impossible. There is absolutely nothing out there that can stop you dreaming and as long as that vision is there you can prove its possible.
In my opinion.
My vision had been brewing (no apologies for the pun!) for a fair few years, during which I spent a lot of time in irrelevant industries and some time in relevant industries – sometimes deliberately, sometimes accidentally. In fact, I look back now at times spent in completely unsatisfying jobs and realise I learnt things that are crucial to me now running Bluebird.
For example, while treading water trying to find some direction after I left university I worked as a PA for the head of design at an e-learning company. It could be argued I was overqualified for filing and scheduling and spent most of the time either bored or frustrated by my managers small mindedness.
But silver lining: I was given an old graphics computer with a full Adobe suite on by accident. I also had access to all the graphics books I could ever want and worked with some incredibly talented designers who were happy to exchange tips for preferable words with the boss. So I taught myself graphic and web design. From scratch. I am the least computer literature person I know and yet I taught myself from books and bugging people.
Detour over. Where was I? Right vision. Well after my idea had been cooking in my head for a few years I finally voiced it to Mike while we were out in Canada (supposedly starting a new life out there… sort of ruined those plans!) and he was just as enthusiastic as I was so we set about seeing if this was something we could actually see ourselves achieving.
It’s important to note that it was never about whether or if we could achieve it, it was whether it would make us happy to achieve it. And if it did, whether it could make us a living.
Now obviously there were hundreds of influences and a hell of a lot of research put behind this decision and it is something we are still reviewing as we go along. But for the sake of this blog I wanted to talk about what we did first, before anything else, and what I would recommend any aspiring businesses person to do:
Go to the pub.
That is actually what we did! We went down to the pub, grabbed a beer each and sat with our notebooks to write down our vision. That very first piece of paper told us all we needed to know going forward.
The first thing we asked each other was how we wanted to build and run a business and how we wanted to build and run our lives. The two were completely entwined.
After 6 months in Canada we knew we wanted more of the beauty, kindness and happiness that we experienced in that wonderful country in our lives, regardless of where we were in the world or what we were doing.
It was encapsulated so perfectly in the concept of a ‘Bluebird Day’ – a day with fresh powder snow and blue skies. A perfect day. A day when it was completely acceptable for everyone to shut up their businesses, take their kids out of school and go up the ski hill.
It was obvious that we should call our business Bluebird so we wrote down some words that represented Bluebird for us…
We then wrote down some values or philosophies that were important to us both. And that was the basis of Bluebird, the beginning.
Since then we have done a lot of work to define these first scrawling. We have read a ridiculous amount of business books and articles, been to loads of workshops and met up with anyone who was happy to offer any advice. This has helped us shape our vision into ‘The Bluebird Way’ – a new way of doing business. Which I want to talk more about in the next blog.
The importance of putting down your vision on paper cannot be underestimated. It is when your business becomes reality. So as long as you have a pen and some paper (or iphone notes app!) you can be get started on your business.
It has been especially important in a partnership because you have to make sure you both are on the same page ,want the same things and have the same vision.
Throughout everything since then and to come, regardless on what we disagree on, we know we will always be unanimous in these beliefs and goals. They are the foundation of who we are and where we are going, the DNA of Bluebird.
Right that’s me. Time up. Next week I’ll write a bit more about how to define your idea using the elevator pitch/granny chat method and tell you why it is all about the BUST.
Have a Bluebird Day!
p.s I just wanted to take the opportunity to show you an illustration I was sent this week by ‘Monkey Chops‘ who I came across while doing some boring SEO for our website. (He shares his name with our delicious banana tea!)
It is titled: ‘Lost at Tea’