In his final column as May’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), Nathan Farrugia of Ultimate Performance offers his advice for those considering following in his footsteps and stepping out on their own in business.
Five frogs on a log. One decides to jump in. How many frogs left on the log…..? Five, because there’s a big difference between ‘deciding’ and ‘doing’.
So thinking leads to deciding, but you can’t stop there. You need to act with confidence and determination. How? Firstly, surround yourself with the right people at different times of the business cycle. Our mind plays tricks on us and the little voices of doubt and self criticism can kill our confidence, so we need to have both strategists and cheerleaders around us all the time. Taking calculated risks is important to get us into flow. The easy option won’t help us grow, or prepare us for the inevitable storm. Practice breaking small things before you play with the valuable things. Get experience in a contained space, but do get out of your comfort zone often and consistently. Don’t get amygdala hijack from being too stretched and afraid to act, or you’ll die from paralysis. Don’t overanalyse, yet do your homework well. Remain focussed on your journey, and don’t get sidetracked by your short term goals. Goals are good to take stock of progress. Slalom gracefully around them if they seem to take you off course.
The most important thing, and the biggest source of failure of businesses that solve global problems is this: they remained a dream. Once you have a vision, have designed a plan, and raised the resources to implement it, GO FOR IT! Even if it fails, the worst case scenario is that you’ve gained the opportunity to learn something new.
Pros and cons
Of course, there are pros and cons to starting your own business. The pros of being in control of your destiny are the main reasons to set up your own business. Even as a CEO of a large organisation that I helped create, there was always a sense that I was a cog in a big wheel.
I still felt 100% responsible and I was more than just an employee, but creating something you know will be entirely yours sparks something special in your spirit. It’s also great to not have to ask for permission to put an idea into practice, or feel that you can’t change direction if you so decide one day. Yes, you have responsibilities if you have employees, but it’s different than being a manager.
Running your own business also has its perils. You lose objectivity because it is personal. You may find yourself heading for trouble and keep going because you’re emotionally attached to the goal, or to avoid embarrassment. You don’t want to be proven wrong and, therefore, don’t accept criticism easily. It takes a particular character to be entrepreneurial, but these character traits can also be your downfall. Hard-headed, passionate, ambitious and a risk taker come to mind.
Starting a business after having led an organisation has helped me stay focussed and not put emotions before logic. I’m more mature and have had a fair amount of mishaps that I’ve learnt great lessons from. Not only is it not too late to start your business at 40, but it’s actually helpful to have experience under your belt. I’ve had a few sideline businesses over the years so I had some startup practice. It’s also important to have good people around you to keep you grounded. It’s easy to become engrossed in the project and lose your relationships with loved ones, and distance yourself from friends and family. Taking stock, or being coached is very important to get a reality check every so often.
To me it’s the mindset that’s the major difference between running a business and working for someone else. You can be equally passionate and driven working for someone else’s business with less personal risk and stress. Running your own business is not for everyone. It shouldn’t be everyone’s ambition. I too need to employ great managers, accountants, experts and associates to make up for all my weaknesses! Thankfully enough people choose to be professionals too.
My hope for Ultimate Performance is to continue to grow my impact by reaching more businesses and business leaders. I want to keep having fun and do exciting things, whilst sharpening my skills. I want to spend time with the people I care about and share experiences with them whenever possible. I want to wake up in the morning with energy, drive and, most of all, curiosity for what life will bring next.
Nathan Farrugia is an entrepreneur. He attributes much of his success to a mindset that challenges the impossible and takes every obstacle as an opportunity to find new solutions to old problems. He has used this mindset to break world record endurance challenges, as well as to grow successful enterprises. He now spends most of his time coaching CEOs and business leaders on how to unlock their own performance potential as part of the UP Academy. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.