It seems fashionable to romanticise entrepreneurs. Business professors celebrate the disruptors who dare to break the rules. Politicians praise the new job creators. Glossy magazines drool over their fabulous, exciting lives.
In my experience, I can honestly say, there is nothing romantic about running your own business. Starting and growing a business from the ground up is hard work. The early years are tough when there is little job security, massive financial risk and a non-existent social life. No wonder entrepreneurs are often called the "crazy ones."
But despite the pressure, it is a real privilege to be able to do something you love every day. I get to do some pretty amazing things and meet some truly amazing people. And I get to do my own thing. Entrepreneurs tend to challenge convention, and I am no different. Being my own boss is incredibility liberating and empowering.
And when it all comes together, it is pure magic. There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you see your ideas, turn into products that put a smile on people's faces.
My own experience has taught me that to be an entrepreneur you need humility, resilience and courage. This is especially true when your business is focused on technology. You must have the courage to believe in your idea when others think you are crazy. You need the resilience to deal with the up and downs that will inevitably come.
My TomTom journey has been something of a 20 year rollercoaster ride. In the very early days, I set out to establish the TomTom brand, growing TomTom from four to 50 people. Then I went on to lead sales and product strategies, growing the business from 42 million to 1.8 billion in just a few short years. Next came a challenging time where we had to find new growth areas, keep innovating, all the while controlling costs. I must admit, it sometimes felt as though I had been put on the high spin cycle of a washing machine for a very long time!
I am very proud of all that we have achieved at TomTom, not least that we are one of only a few successful consumer technology companies to come out of Europe. And today, our business is returning to growth. I am very excited to be launching new products in new areas.
My advice to anyone starting their own business:
1. Follow your intuition above all. Everyone you speak to will have an opinion. Keep in mind that you know your business better than anyone, so when people give you advice always try and understand what motivates them.
2. Make sure you have a good team with complementary skills. You will probably share some of the most intense experiences of your life with these people - the ups and the downs. Choosing your business partner is as important as choosing your life partner, possibly more important.
3. Make sure you don't run out of cash. Planning is key. Whatever idea you have, you need to be able to finance it.
4. There is nothing romantic about being an entrepreneur; it requires a lot of hard work and soul searching. The greatest reward is to do something that has not been done before. But you need resilience, drive, energy and courage to make that happen.
Follow on Twitter: @CorinneVigreux
Corinne was recently named as one of the fifty most inspiring women in the European technology sector by Inspiring Fifty. Inspiring Fifty is a pan-European programme that identifies, encourages, develops and showcases women in leadership positions within the technology community. The aim is to inspire a new generation of female leaders and entrepreneurs across Europe and indeed worldwide, leading the charge to affect meaningful and durable change.