"Observe the masses and do the opposite" is something my dad used to say and is now a philosophy I have inherited. He always told me that when the masses are all charging in one direction after the next big thing, it's often the path in the opposite direction that leads to greater opportunities. At the time, I would never have thought those few words would affect my entrepreneurial journey as much as it has.
Growing up, I was always eager to watch my dad at work and knew from a very young age that I wanted to have my own business and become an entrepreneur. It was always expected that I would carry on the family business but, to my father's dismay, I wanted to do my own thing. To me, taking on the business seemed like the easy way out, everything would be handed to me on a plate and it wouldn't really feel like my own. I wouldn't have the same sense of accomplishment as I do when I start a business from scratch. This came as a huge surprise for my family and eventually, I left school at 16 with no qualifications, no experience or business connections just a very disappointed father. Since then, I have been taking his advice quite literally and applying it every step of the way.
My drive and determination to succeed means I've always been very conscious of being an individual. I think this is something every true entrepreneur has - a real understanding of their identity and eagerness to turn that into something special, taking the chance and questioning the status quo.
For example, when I set up my first headhunting company Alexander Mann, headhunting was primarily available to select businesses but I wanted to bring it to the mass market. This had never been done before and I eventually brought a new service to a market that didn't exist and this market was 10 times the size than its current base. Doing the unexpected has taken my career on some interesting journeys, subconsciously thinking of this philosophy and identifying different routes to market.
I'm surprised by how often people assume that if you're successful, then you've always been successful. When I tell people my story, starting my first business without any money or support in a windowless broom cupboard with only the yellow pages for company, they are genuinely surprised. Anyone with the same passion can start a business the way I did. All it takes is a good idea, the determination to tell people about it and a willingness to start out on a journey even though you don't know the destination. Did I sit in my broom cupboard and know how it would turn out? Of course not... I just wanted to see what would happen! I followed this mantra and the rest is history.
In the past few years there has been a huge soar in the number of people considering entrepreneurship as a career and actually taking the leap into starting their own business. Entrepreneurs are the new rock stars! At last people aspire to start their own businesses and begin their entrepreneurial journeys. These people ask me every single day about the best way to start a business and the truth is that there is no quick answer: Success takes time. Combining the ability to recognise talent, advocate innovative thinking and understand business isn't about good transactions, it's about good relationships.
Success doesn't necessarily mean inventing something new, just doing it a little differently. So think outside the box, who knows where your imagination may take you, and like my father said; "observe the masses and do the opposite."