2011 is the year
I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel that there is a fervent murmur of revolution around. I am sure many would say that it is already happening – either way the time is now for entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Last week I was a ‘distinguished guest’ [I’m not sure I make the grade?!] at the Commonwealth Foundation lecture – where Sonia Gandhi spoke of ‘Women as Agent of Change’, within social, political and economic circles. The night before, I had the fortune to attend another of the British Library Business & IP Centre events – Mothers of Invention. At both events the air was electric with passion and optimism for what the ‘individual’ can achieve.
With a panel hosted by Natasha Kaplinsky, the speakers were Shazia Awan, former PR specialist, and now founder of Peachy Pink; Sara Murray, serial entrepreneur who created confused.com and now Buddi; Sian Sutherland, co-founder of Mama Mio; and finally Vanessa Heywood founder of Tiny Mites.
All their stories were different: Vanessa was pushed towards her entrepreneurial venture through adversity when her husband left her with 2 small children. Sara is a self confessed serial entrepreneur – who champions the view that you do not need to ‘wait for a brilliant idea’ – if you have got the passion, just go out and find one – citing great examples such as Sony who started out fixing radios, and Hewlett Packard, whose founders only starting point was that they wanted ‘to work together’. Shazia similarly had the desire to be an entrepreneur before finding her product, and 2 years ago found that product – her cellulite reducing underwear. Sian had perhaps the most conventional route, with a background in branding and advertising – but like the rest of the speakers, no-one in Mama-Mio’s founding team had experience in the category (skincare/cosmetics) that they now succeed in.
This was just one of the many powerful commonalities in their stories. Irrespective of their starting point – or whether they got outside funding or not – they were consistent in what it takes to make it happen. There was animated discussion around “genius being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” and how it is absolutely “vital that you love what you do and do what you love” because at the end of the day – it is your passion and commitment that will make it succeed or otherwise.
That room was full of that passion and commitment – and it is this that really gives me this strong sense of imminent revolution. Men and women alike – are standing up and leaving the ‘organisation’ behind to follow their own path, lead more flexible working lives and seek out the fulfilment that they desire. With the Coalition championing the Start-Up Britain campaign and the budget update today dropping corporation tax by 2% and increasing tax relief, perhaps 2011 is indeed the year to take that leap of faith. If you have it in you, get on and do it.