I became an entrepreneur by accident in 1995 when I made the decision to return to Johannesburg from London. My aim was to work in the music business and I had no idea of what I was getting into.
This book is for you whether you are thinking of starting out for yourself, you already have started your own business or you are an experienced entrepreneur looking for support and ideas. It is designed so that you can dip in and out as your needs dictate, or read from cover to cover.
The opening chapters may appear to be aimed solely at new start-ups, but there is food for thought for everyone in every chapter. Sometimes even experienced entrepreneurs are making mistakes because the still believe in myths and assumptions that limit their decision making and option taking.
For a long time, I felt like I was alone in this ignorance and that everyone else had a long game and a plan that I lacked. I also felt like I wasn’t running a real business because I didn’t have staff, a turn over with several zeros after it or a revolutionary product to sell. In short I didn’t realise that what I was, was an entrepreneur.
Today, more and more people are being forced into a form of entrepreneurship as companies seek to reduce staffing costs. As companies increasingly look to outside contracts, freelancers and agencies to fulfil their labour needs, more and more people are being forced to assume the role of entrepreneur: running their own accounts, doing their own sales and marketing AND doing their job, for not very much extra money.
But in the public sphere, when there is talk of entrepreneurship, it is all about start-ups, securing funding and making it big. It’s about making real money and growing your business into something with real clout in your industry. None of this helps the growing army of everyday people who are now entrepreneurs. This money and growth focussed attitude only helps normal people like us lose sight of the fact that, primarily, we were given no option or that we could find no other way to do this THING that we are doing.
For some, self-employment is about necessity. For others, it is about doing what we dreamed of, what we wanted. That the most important thing of all is to be able to continue to do it every day, to grow and improve.
Many, many entrepreneurs bear no resemblance to the smart, business-driven people that are typically identified as exemplifying the breed. Like Bill Gates. Like Elon Musk. We are quite different.
As a result, the advice that you encounter is of little to no use. That’s why I came up with this idea and wrote this little book.
There was a time not so long ago, when a lot more of us were entrepreneurs. Before Mr Henry Ford invented the factory production line and before companies metamorphosed into global corporations, many, many more people were essentially entrepreneurs. Tailors, bakers, farmers and labourers. But what HAS changed since those pre-industrial times is that we are divorced from our communities, from our roots and from the knowledge sharing that such environments offer.
The age of the corporation has altered not only the way we do business, but the way we live. It’s been a little over a century, and all other ways of living, any other sense of ‘normal’ has been lost.
This is why this is a book about all the stuff that no-one ever told you about being an entrepreneur. It acknowledges that many people end up going into business for themselves NOT out of a desire to make huge money or to change the world, but because they need to in order to fulfil their ideas and vision, or because, they were given no other choice but to do so.
It’s hard to distinguish between being an entrepreneur and being a free-lancer or working for yourself. Which one includes the other? Or are they entirely unrelated? In this book I treat them all as equal. As long as you are not drawing a salary and have to complete more tasks everyday than just those of a specific job, then this book is for you.
In many ways, the entrepreneur is a metaphor for our society today. The entrepreneur is multi-talented, has multiple skills (or will have to acquire them fast), reacts fast to change and needs to be a consummate generalist to succeed. We are the poster children of the attention deficit world we live in.
This is not a business advice book. In it you will find references to business and doing business. But it’s not like this is a potted MBA course for entrepreneurs. Instead this book is all about the most important resource and tool that every entrepreneur possesses: YOURSELF.
David Chislett is a writer, trainer and speaker who operates at the intersection of entrepreneurship, creativity and communications. Born in Portsmouth, England, raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, I live in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Follow David Chislett on Twitter (@davidchiz)