There’s an invisible barrier that too often deters people who could be running their own enterprise from taking the leap. It’s the belief that entrepreneurs are somehow a different creature to everyone else; that they all share the same traits; that they were born with this propensity already wired into their brains. The notion seems to be that if at heart you are not a bit brutal, a mean dealmaker, you will never make it. That’s rubbish and, what’s more, this type of thinking deters lots of men and women from realising their dreams. The skills that you need to endure the hardships of going it alone or of taking over a family enterprise and making it flourish again can be learnt on the job, absorbed by surrounding yourself with wise mentors – or, to be blunt, paying for a business coach.
Every year as we put together this handbook for entrepreneurs, I am struck by the incredible personal stories and sheer determination of the people who end up on the pages and wonder how we could entice more people to join them. So that’s why this time we asked three of our writers to check in with a business coach to see how they would springboard them into action (though, to be clear, I am hoping that for now they stay writing for monocle). Coaching is a field where you can spend a lot of money and see few results but hopefully the story (see here) will show how – chosen wisely – a good coach will make you focus, shape your ideas and get you to step up to the plate.
And, this being monocle where the notion of quality of life always matters, we have also tried to show you how being a successful business owner can also happen in, say, bucolic Estonia (it’s a perfect place to hone a food enterprise) or in a city with a gentler pace such as Catania or Guadalajara (and the extra hours of sunshine and light can also soothe at the close of a stressful day).
And, to keep things challenging, we have also tracked down people who have ignored the common advice to do one thing well and instead decided to run two enterprises well – and in doing so have often discovered interesting synchronicities between their various company offspring. Read our report (see here) to learn why running a wine business helps your fashion company or having an architecture practice makes you potential restaurateurs too.
In this inspiring issue we also wanted to celebrate the perks of work – how company owners can make their offices more welcoming and joyful but also just how being together as teams can be empowering. In our Expo (see here) we have found companies that understand how to make going to work feel special – from time off when you become a puppy parent to the chance to do some gardening in your lunchtime and from an office sauna to a company bar. Perhaps that’s another potential sign of a good entrepreneur: a willingness to mix things up and know when not to work too. And then there’s our story on diaspora business communities in Africa (see here): Moroccans trading in Côte d’Ivoire to French viticulturalists in South Africa. Another group of people who became successful entrepreneurs for a range of very different reasons – and sometimes just out of necessity.
So as you read our reports, remember that you too could be on these pages. Starting or growing an existing company needs lots of skills but remember that they can all be absorbed along the way. Don’t put off being a success. Good luck.
If you have ideas, thoughts or feedback, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.