Being a good listener is one of the most important attributes you can have as an entrepreneur. You need to heed some (but definitely not all) of the advice given to you by advisors/mentors/investors, as well as take on feedback from your customers and users. It is also essential to listen to some of the ideas your team and employees come up with – if you don’t listen properly, you will regret it days/weeks/months down the line when things begin to unravel beneath your feet.
I have heard the phrase “knowledge is power” (“scientia potentia est” is the original phrase coined in Latin) regularly used throughout my life – at university, in the workplace and even in Hollywood movies. Never, though, have I felt this phrase to be more appropriate than when applied to behavioural & leadership psychology (or influencing people).
Up until this point, I hadn’t formally resigned because my place on the NEF programme had not yet been guaranteed (I outline in [IV] The NEF Application Process that, should you go the host company route, you need to have both an offer from NEF and an offer from a host company before you get admitted).
Working in (or running) an early-stage startup can be one of the most volatile experiences of your life. The mixture of monumental highs
assuming that you’re somewhere on the right path combined with depressing lows is quite unique in a career/lifestyle. There will be times where you question your self-belief and wonder why you are doing what you are doing. Your resilience is an important factor in helping you bounce back, so it is good to have an understanding of what helps keep you strong.
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
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.
In Chapter 1, I discussed some of the early beginnings of how I had tried to plan my life and my career. I had just secured a good job but was struggling to keep pushing myself, and life as an engineer in the oil & gas industry was rapidly becoming increasingly unappealing. But there was light at the end of the tunnel – I was switching jobs within the company (in order to develop project management skills to complement the technical knowledge I had learned) so I was optimistic that things would get better.
When it comes to most things in general, I have always thought of myself as a planner. I like to have a clear view of where I am going and the journey that I need to take to get there. This had largely been reflected in my life up until around one year ago. Continue reading