Five years into becoming a full time entrepreneur, Pat Kane divulges her top tips
Every entrepreneur has a different story about why he or she decided to start a business.
Some have known from day dot that they wanted to start their own business and others have come up with ideas while working for someone else and decided to take the entrepreneurial leap – I am in that latter category.
Just over five years ago, I took a huge leap of faith to become a full time entrepreneur. I traded in the stability of a successful corporate career to pursue an unknown path filled with adventure, joy, hope and lots of ‘wait.. what?’ moments too. And while I always say that to an extent, you can prepare yourself for it, most entrepreneurs will agree with me on one thing – being an entrepreneur is the ultimate definition of “learning on the job”.
Learning is at the core of entrepreneurial success.
In business today, change is constant, and to keep up with change, we must keep learning. As an entrepreneur, you are always learning something new – and no, it’s not always rainbows and sparkles. In fact, the shiny bits are rare. Some of the most powerful lessons come with lack of sleep, tough conversations and an enormous dose of self-doubt…
Am I doing the right thing?
Am I doing enough?
Am I good enough?
Entrepreneurship is that kind of education that you can’t get in a classroom… and that’s absolutely priceless. Be prepared to learn and fail and then try again. I am always saying that when it comes to entrepreneurship, even when you fail you are learning!
At some stage, you will probably need to pivot*
The pandemic has forced us all to think outside the box. Things can change unexpectedly! When I think of my business, reuzi, during that dreadful pandemic period, a few things come to mind:
- My actions during that time were in alignment with my long-term goals – eye on the prize at all times. We didn’t suddenly turn into a first-aid or wellness shop. We entered the pandemic as a sustainable living store and we continued to do so throughout those rough months.
- Our pivoting strategy was based on reuzi’s existing capabilities, cementing – not undermining – our strategic intent. Take individual education, for instance. I wanted to continue to be able to talk about sustainable living and offer solutions to everyday problems so I had to find ways to connect with my customers and clients in a way that didn’t feel awkward or distant. And I guess that’s where webinars via Zoom came in really handy!
- Lastly, pivots must offer a sustainable path to profitability, one that preserves and enhances brand value in the mind of the consumer. Again, we were there to solve an issue by offering eco alternatives to everyday products. We didn’t suddenly start offering a range of products that deviated from our strategy. We knew who we were and where we wanted to get, pandemic or not.
*As much as I dislike this expression, it makes sense…
Imagine doing the same thing every day for as long as you work. As an entrepreneur you don’t have to worry about this – you will wear multiple hats and play a variety of roles. Entrepreneurs are very resourceful and over time we learn to overcome anything and solve any problem placed in front of us.
From figuring out how the latest social media channel works to filing our own VAT returns (I would not advise you to try the latter!), entrepreneurs find themselves having to figure things out. Personally, I try to stick to areas I know for certain I can do a good job at. I will never be a tax connoisseur or a HTML coding wizard so I tend to leave more technical aspects of the business to seasoned third-party experts.
Help is one DM away
While independence, decisiveness and self-motivation are strong characteristics for entrepreneurs, these can also make us overly confident and self-reliant. Asking for help is a skill I had to force myself to learn but wish I had embraced sooner. The entrepreneurial culture is almost like a big family – and at least here in Ireland, you won’t find a better group of people willing to offer advice and help than fellow entrepreneurs.
And asking for help should not be thought of as a weakness. You’ll actually gain more by asking for help than you might think! Need advice on where to source new products or find a new accountant? Ask a fellow entrepreneur and I guarantee you will get plenty of recommendations.
Understand the difference between working in the business vs. working on the business
When I first started my business, I was obsessively in tune with every single detail. I checked every proposal that went out, every email that was sent to a customer and every order that was sent out for delivery. The details sometimes became so overwhelming that I would forget to look at the big picture.
Running a business means you have to be able to see your business both at the micro level and the macro level. The ability to simultaneously analyse the big picture and the individual pieces that make up your business is no easy task.
I had a hard time pulling myself out of everyday tasks, but doing so has allowed me to make the changes that have propelled reuzi and my consultancy business, PatKane.Co, forward. My biggest piece of advice here is for you to carve time to work on your business – to me, Going for Growth was a great way to put time aside and look into my businesses’ structures, missions and goals. From where I stand, being an entrepreneur is an experience unlike any other.
You must relentlessly overcome your own goals. You need a ridiculous amount of passion. You have to be able to adapt to crazy, unexpected things. And above all, you must provide something incredible to your audience. Running your own successful business probably won’t turn out exactly how you imagined – but that doesn’t mean it can’t turn out even better than you imagined.