Even now when I hear the term "entrepreneur" I think of people like these guys;
Sharp suits, skinny laptops, shaking hands, doing deals, onwards and upwards.
We have now founded 2 Irish Food Companies; Wild Orchard Natural Beverages and Craft Food Traders so I suppose that technically makes me an entrepreneur. Just one who is minus the suits, etc.
If I am to look at the reality versus my expectations (which is what I am tasked to do here) I would have to say that it's a bit further from my expectations than I would have expected, if you are still following.
I must admit that I thought there would be a lot more of the wheeling, dealing, handshaking and skinny laptop tapping. What I have come across in the Irish Food Industry is predominantly ordinary enough Josephines and Joes like myself who typically had a great product idea and thought, Feck it, I'm going for it. Typically the next phase is long hours and days of hair net and white coat wearing, pallet pulling, white van driving and every now and again a Key Buyer or investor meeting where that suit gets a run out.
Why do we do it? This is a question I have asked myself a few times and I suppose that you have to be at something but there must be more to it than that.
It's not for either of the following reasons:
Money. Ha ha ha ha ha. It's really not. If you want to accumulate money and wealth get yourself a job in a blue chip multinational and learn how to get yourself up the echelons to the bonuses, share options, etc. This is not an opinion, this is a fact. The majority of millionaires have become millionaires in this way. Not many billionaires, mind you.
More free time. Unfortunately I can't use the ha ha ha response again but no, forget that. This is something you will typically have less of. OK, maybe in later years but unless you are very sharp indeed you will not figure this one out for a long time. There is always, always something that needs to be done.
Being your own boss: Not really. Sure, you ultimately call the shots but at times it can feel like you have even more bosses than you had in your old job. Customers, investors even your staff.
Controlling your own destiny. This is a big part of it. It doesn't always seem like it but you have the opportunity to shape your business according to your vision. Not easily done but it's possible and worth reaching for.
Testing yourself. When you step into this arena you will either survive, thrive or fail. You will not get any marks for effort. You will not get a pass because something "out of your control" affected the outcome. If you don't get it right it will not be good. You learn from failure and all those other cliches but when you are in the middle of it you begin to understand the implications of that. That provides a lot of the buzz and fuels the extreme joy of the successes and terrible disappointments of the failures. You need to move on from both of these quickly.
Sense of Achievement. There is a lot of this. Maybe it's your first new Artisan Irish Food Product. It's great to walk in a shop and see the result of your creativity and determination sitting there on the shelf. There are so many achievements along the way; getting that factory up and running, landing that sale, hitting the financial milestones.
So what would I say to someone thinking about taking the plunge?
If it is in your head to do it, then do it. Even if this idea doesn't work the next one will. In any case it's worth a shot.