Is a true entrepreneur a calculating risk taker, or are they calculated risk takers? Having run my own business for nearing 25 years I have certainly taken my fair share of risks, not least having set up in two recessions, but then so did Microsoft so it can’t all be bad news!
There is a well know business saying: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” But in real life, although I have so many ideas at times I don’t know where to start, whether I actually have a fully laid out and formulated plan is another matter.
That could of course be why, although I consider myself fairly successful, (I have four bestselling books and am writing my fifth, sit on six boards as a NED have 3 companies and had made my first million by the time I was 30) I would say that 1% of my successes are represented by 99 % failures!!
The question for the budding entrepreneur is: If I had planned, would I have been more successful? That’s not one I can answer.
What I can say is that it wouldn’t have been half the fun or the wild ride it’s been at times. Like many entrepreneurs, detail is something I am not interested in (although I am a bit of a control freak until I have absolute trust). I also get bored quite quickly and need to be permanently stretched and challenged.
I decided a long time ago to surround myself with great people, have a mentor, formal or otherwise, and to give back to the young and aspirational people as much as you can. I call it sending the lift back down, and it’s brought me more rewards than anything I have ever done.
But getting back to planning, by saying I don’t have a detailed plan suggests I have risked the family silver, and although I have certainly have had to give the obligatory PG, I have done so only after careful thought and having explored every other possible option.
What I don’t do, mostly because it bores the life out of me, is loads of research and posturing. I have rather a “let’s have a go and deal with the consequences” attitude. Although I do rely very heavily on my gut instinct, and tend to have a bit of a jaded view of those processes that are so cumbersome that by the time you have gone through them, the opportunity is lost.
This does mean that my staff sometimes has to do a bit of sweeping up after me, and I guess that is part of the role of working for an entrepreneur.
If your personality is like mine, the frustrating politics of large corporations will not be for you. My mantra has always been its better to ask for forgiveness than permission, and that would have got me into a lot of trouble in such institutions.
When I have ventured into these businesses it’s always been a disaster. I can’t, don’t want to, and won’t fit the model in all sorts of ways – from my attitude to making quick decisions to the way I dress. I am my own person, not planned for just as it comes.
Proud as I am to be from Yorkshire where, of course we are renowned for our straight speaking, what I don’t do and don’t tolerate is bad manners. Being kind and saying thank you are a huge part of who I am. If something doesn’t turn out the way you imagined it, telling the person straight away in a public manner is the wrong way to deal with it. At least not before trying more appropriate and subtle methods.
Why make enemies when it’s so much easier and so, so much more pleasant to make friends? Believe me I am no softy just rather, I hope, a genuine caring person who is grateful for the chances she has had, for not blowing it all on red and for having a family and staff that love and like me and for whom I feel the same.
I would like my epitaph to say, “Well she did the best she could and it wasn’t half bad.”
Jo Haigh – Partner at fdscfs and Cracking Boards Email Jo.firstname.lastname@example.org / Jo.email@example.com Telephone 01924 376784 / 01484 860502