Can (or should) we all be entrepreneurs?

November 2019

Now that’s quite a question for this week’s Future of Work ThinkIn by Tortoise and Fora. I think we probably all have those brainwave moments that make you ask yourself: could I start a business?

This session saw a deeper dive into what it takes to be an entrepreneur, calling upon people who have made their businesses a success, and those who are ambitious to follow in their footsteps (with a few sceptics thrown into the mix).  

The evening was hosted by Deborah Hargreaves, an Editor at Tortoise. With an audience and panel made up of experienced business owners, individuals in the process of launching their own business and those who are keen to get started in the future. Here’s what we learnt:


No blueprint to success

Making a profit isn’t guaranteed, nor is following a set model to excel. Being an entrepreneur is a risk, and a lot of businesses don’t make it. 660,000 new businesses are registered in the UK each year. Of that number, 60% fail within the first three years. That’s pretty high risk. Standing the test of time means creating a business that fulfils a gap in the market, and providing a service that people want (and are searching about). Apps are notoriously challenging to get off the ground, with around 6,000 launching each day.


Drive on through

Great idea or not, you have to jump through many hurdles to make your business the best it can be. To see momentous growth from the off, your idea needs to be like lightning in a bottle. “Inertia kills companies and ultimately your career” remarked Alex to a nodding room. A central part of company success is living on the edge and never being complacent – no mean feat if you’re carrying any self-doubt at all.


When the going gets tough, the tough gets…  

Going it alone and being entirely self-funded isn’t always an option. Although, it’s by far the best for your business and its future.

It all comes down to the master plan, which becomes of greater importance if you’ve received any funding. Shareholders will expect to see monthly reports and projections to ensure their money is put to good use (and makes a sound investment). Regardless of your finances, you’ll need to have a strategy for your growth, e.g. are you aiming to reach a certain point and add additional services, or will you be looking to sell once you’ve achieved X? This is where the granular details count for a lot, and knowing from the offset what you want will make things easier when challenges appear.


Handing over the reins

When your business has run its course under your management, or you’re ready for your next challenge, you have to let go. Now this can prove really challenging. Alex accounted her struggles with parting with her first business, and the depression that it triggered. Letting go is easier for practical people, where emotional characters can latch on to the past.


Shall we all leave our day jobs?

Having a lightbulb moment doesn’t mean you should jump to leave your corporate job. Initially, for your security (and sanity) it’s good to first test whether your idea has legs and if there’s a marketplace need.


Is there hope for us all?  

There’s entrepreneurial potential in all of us, but not all of us are built to make the jump from idea to CEO. Some people can generate the idea, but can’t see it through. The long and short of it is, it’s not glamorous, there’s endless hard work, emotions and stressful projection paperwork involved. Like most things, that’s not for everyone.

Heads up: We’ll be releasing the full discussion as a podcast episode very soon so keep an eye on our social channels to listen.

Looking for more to get stuck into? To see what other ThinkIns are on the horizon and to sign up to join an upcoming conversation, click here. Upcoming Future of Work topics include ‘Is it OK to have an office romance?’ and ‘Do you have to be a psychopath to be a CEO?’ – Come and join the discussion.