In Chapter 3, we explored the process I used to help make the “career change”/transition from engineer to entrepreneur. This was:
- Identifying the skills that I felt I needed in order to work in start-ups/become an entrepreneur – Web development; digital marketing; graphic design to name a few
- Acquiring as many of these skills as I could in my spare time* – I built a tech blog (Tech-Boffin.com – now defunct) and a simple, personal landing page (cipavlou.com); had a play with Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools for these sites; went through online tutorials on Inkscape (and created a logo for Tech-Boffin.com)
- Continually research the entrepreneurship ecosystem – Speaking with friends, reading about opportunities, etc
Over the course of the last year or so, I have met with, spoken to or been to talks featuring many different CEOs and start-up founders. I like to ask them about some of the biggest mistakes that they’ve made (in the futile hope that I can learn from them) or what advice they would give to an aspiring/early-stage entrepreneur. What is interesting is that the answer they all give is almost always the same.
In Chapter 2, I wrote about how I had tried to work out what I wanted to do in life. I had been working at an oil & gas company, was financially secure, and thought I had my life & career mapped out. However, like many millennials, I soon became disillusioned with the reality of being “just another cog in the machine”. I didn’t truly love the work that I was doing, and I realised that I could never have the tangible impact on people’s lives that I wanted to, or become as successful as I aspired to be.
When people think of great founders, they think of people like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Steve Jobs – people who have this unwavering drive and vision; who can captivate people and lead them on a journey. However, what made these guys truly successful was the support network they built around themselves – their founding team. The reality is that it is almost impossible for one person to have all the characteristics of a great founder. What is possible, however, is having all of these great characteristics shared between yourself and your co-founders.