The life of an entrepreneur can be a stressful one but a rewarding one, and I can certainly vouch for both sides!
With a successful business comes difficult decisions, financial pressure and a need to keep ahead of the competition. But it's also exciting, unpredictable and extremely rewarding which is why it's important to enjoy what you do. I'm lucky; I'm passionate and completely in love with my job and that certainly makes things a lot easier to manage.
This year, I'm supporting an initiative called Britain's Top Real Role Model, a nationwide competition run by Amway UK Ltd to uncover Britain's unsung entrepreneurial heroes. Together we are searching for an aspiring Passionpreneur - someone who has set up a business related to a hobby or passion of theirs - to win a £5,000 investment for their business.
Lots of brave people take the bold leap to start up a business every year and I for one believe it's important that these people are recognised and celebrated. Competitions like these are a great way to support entrepreneurship across the country and give SMEs the leg up they require to get great ideas off the ground.
Those working in business need support during every step on the ladder and I know from experience that it's great to have a business role model or mentor to talk to. Whether it's to run through a business plan, seek advice on dealing with employee issues or wanting to run a wacky creative thought past someone, it's invaluable to have someone to challenge and stretch your thinking.
Sometimes, all you need is a little reassurance from a like-minded business person, but equally they may be able to point something out that you never would have identified when working so closely on a project. Additionally, to be inspired by someone else's success puts us on the right path to go that extra distance with our business and operate outside of our comfort zone.
With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some tips on what has helped me succeed as an entrepreneur. I do hope that they help and inspire every individual 'Passionpreneur' out there.
Don't forget you can enter Britain's Top Real Role Model via www.btrrm2015.co.uk. Be quick though - entries close on 11th September 2015.
1. Be Tenacious and Confident at all times
Becoming a business owner is exciting and extremely rewarding. Seeing your idea blossom into a successful commercial venture is wonderful journey.
But sometimes, fantastic ideas - the life-blood of any business - can fail along the way because other people do not share the same vision and belief that you do.
Being tenacious is where you win. For me, being tenacious and confident at all times is the difference between having a great idea and making that idea happen.
To be tenacious is to be honest and strong. When other people don't support you, you have to find the determination, persistence and sheer obstinacy to hang on in there and shut out the negativity.
When you feel your will weakening, look for ways to bring yourself back on track again by concentrating on the achievable. That said, it is also important to know when to allow yourself to be vulnerable and when to listen to your instincts.
So, always hold onto that belief that you can do it, achieve your goals and not give in to self-doubt. Easier said than done, I know, but it's like training a muscle - the more you do it, the easier it becomes!
2. Success is about teamwork
It is often said by successful business figures in the public eye that they couldn't have achieved what they did without the support of others. I am a firm believer in continually evolving and learning from people in your business community and your own team.
Part of this ongoing commitment to grow and evolve is recognising one's own weaknesses and blind spots. Even when you are the boss, there is always room for improvement!
Nobody likes to hear criticism, but be open to it and the advice of a team member or mentor too.. Regular analysis of your performance can help you improve your business acumen and open up new ways of thinking that reap commercial gains.
Lastly, I would advise on a personal level to invest in your own business development. Sign up to courses, attend free networking event, download some interesting industry pod-casts. Inspiration is out there in all guises - you just have to learn how to listen to it.
3. Find yourself a mentor and be a mentor to others
I strongly advocate the role of a mentor. For me, it's my mother but I also looked at the persona and practices of other figureheads for inspiration. Ralph Lauren was someone I admire hugely both for his style and business acumen.
Seeing how a mentor operates and behaves can help you gain the insight into the 'tweaks' that you might want to make your own management style. Do people see you as a confident, tenacious, inspirational, and knowledgeable, for example? If not, what behaviours do you need to adopt so people see you in this way?
Learn, watch and know that you will do it yourself eventually.
4. Be self - aware
By our very own nature, business owners tend to thrive on a bit on stress and excitement, and take on what seems impossible. However, that said, we are our own worst enemy at spotting our own 'under stress signals' and it usually takes a close family member or colleague to tell us we need to slow down, take a break, or get a positive perspective on things.
I strongly recommend being self-aware. Are you a bit of a control freak? Or leave things to the last minute? Do you remain calm at all times but panic inwardly, or have a tendency to blow up when things go wrong?
It is critical to know your own behaviour and manage it. It may sound obvious, but remaining in good health both physically and emotionally is essential. You can also look to 'fix' some of your traits that might be negative. This could be as simple as reading a book on time management to embarking on some cognitive behavioural therapy sessions to change how your mind is 'wired' to react in certain conditions.
Personally, I am a huge advocate of exercise, healthy eating and healthy living. I take control of my own physical and mental health and it does have a positive impact on my working day.
Lastly, enroll your own family and friends in your quest to be self-aware. Give loved ones permission to tell you when you must switch off, or eat better, or go on holiday. After all, they know you better than you probably know yourself!
5. Belief in yourself and always challenge yourself:
I have always said I was destined to be a designer. I might not have known how to run a business but I believed that I could do it and this belief has got me far in business.
I struggled with dyslexia and bullying when I was growing up but didn't let that stop me or define me as a person. We all have things to overcome and this makes for an interesting life! You will always need to overcome certain challenges with your business anyway, so it's good to always keep your goals forefront of mind to guide you through the difficult times.
I also advise people to never be complacent - it can be a dangerous place to be. Extraordinary thinking and challenging yourself with defined business goals will help the business maintain its positive momentum and open itself up to fresh new thinking.
All too often, I see new thinking coming through when a business is in crisis. Time is not allocated to setting new challenges or seeing how the business can grow further when things are going well. My advice is to keep looking to the future and seeing if there are any untapped opportunities out there for you to grasp.