Are there just some people in this world who are destined to be Entrepreneurs, Founders, Creators. Is it nature or is it nurture?
I think in my case it comes down to a mix of nature and nurture. I remember my parents saying I was quite independent and creative as a child. I come from a loving home, but not from a privileged background. One of the memories that will stay with me for life happened when I was 15. There was a school trip to Israel and I was desperate to go as I was fascinated by Judaism. We couldn't afford it as my Dad had just been made redundant for the third time in the print industry, but he took up two jobs and managed to pay the £600 so that I could go. That was a trip of a lifetime. I won an award upon return for a piece of poetry that I had written about our trip to Yad Vashem. I am eternally grateful to my parents for doing everything that they did for us as children and for my Dad for giving me the drive and passion to want to do the same for mine.
I remember my first encounter with the idea of "entreprenurial spirit". At the age of 16, I landed myself a job as a part-time telesales marketer for a local double glazing window firm. I had a list with hundreds of names and numbers that I had to call and ask if people would be open to a visit to discuss double glazing. Now, bear in mind that this was back in 1992 (yes, before many of you were born), double glazing was all the rage! I discovered that these leads were fairly valuable and so I called three other competitor companies and asked if they wanted to buy the leads from me. I remember my Mum driving me across Southampton to the offices of another double glazing firm to hand over a list of names and numbers, and I got paid (double). It's not one of my proudest moments, but it sparked something in me.
After a period of employment with Barclays Bank, working my way up to Branch Trainer at the age of 20, I decided that the corporate world wasn't for me. Instead, I decided to take a year out travelling and backpacking in Australia. Unfortunately, after arriving in Sydney, I didn't leave for 6 months. Instead of living the backpacker life, I talked my way in to a high profile Training and Development role with a leading wealth management company, called AMP. I then took on a Recruitment Consutlant role in an executive search firm where I was even flown to Canberra for a day of face to face interviewing. I was working 5 days a week, 8 to 6, whilst many of my other friends were barely working an hour a day and were out drinking every night. I just didn't have it in me!
I returned to the UK and took up a position in training and development for Enabling Change, leaders in providing recruitment consultant training. The drive to do something for myself was always there and so at the age of 24 I set up my own recruitment agency, People Prospect Solutions. The business has been running successfully for almost 20 years. During that time, I have also set up a clothing brand called Graphi-T (which produces local artist inspired designs on organic and sustainable tees) and I have just launched Propeller-tech.
I consider myself to be a successful Entrepreneur even though I don't have a multi-million pound business, or offices with hundreds of staff and I am not going to be able to retire in 2 years time. How you measure success is really down to the goals that you set yourself. For me, success is being able to work for myself. People talk about a 'lifestyle business' and that's probably what I have now, but don't think for one moment that this means working 2 hours a day before swanning off to the spa. I work ridiculously hard, non-stop, almost 24 hours a day.
I would love to hear your story. Did you start selling sweets at school at an early age, or did you discover your entreprenurial spirit much later in life through events around you.