4 July 2009

We ran one of our graduate recruiting days last week at UKFast and we started off by asking all the graduates to stand up, introduce themselves and tell us, who their most iconic person is and also tell us about something they have achieved which they consider momentous in their life.

It is a good ice breaker and for those of us assessing the candidates, it starts to give you a snap shot of what is to come.

A young lady stood up, and I don’t have her name to hand and she described her momentous achievement as creating a small shop on ebay and selling a variety of things.

When she sat down, I immediately asked, “so why are you here?” At first I think she might of felt that I was criticising her at least I hope she realises that I was singling her out because she was clearly different.

Out of the 40 to 50 soon to be leaving education, she truly had done something momentous. She has taken a small amount of cash, purchased something, found a route to market, built a shop however rudimentary and started marketing a business. This woman, because in my eyes, she is no longer a young lady she is a business woman.

Now that I write this blog, I realise that I need to follow up  her progress and make sure she is given encouragement. So often entrepreneurs are discouraged from school, university throughout careers. Usually by people who wanted to do things themselves yet, they never followed through.

If you fall in to any of these categories, it is never too late. My parents left their jobs in their 40’s and bought a run down hotel. Some in the family described it as a midlife crisis. Even I, the eternal optimist questioned their sanity of selling a beautiful family home and giving up great careers to become owners of a semi-dilapidated hotel.

20 years on, how wrong was I and what a hotel. They now have the hotels on either side and it sleeps 100 people. It has an awesome reputation and a massive returning customer base.

Ironically the kick that triggered my father was doing my first years accounts. After tax, it transpired I had earned more than my mother who had been teaching for 20 years.

Last year a young lady came to be interviewed for the job of PA. As soon as I read her psychometric test results, I knew that she would make an excellent personal assistant. However I also realised that  she had the perfect profile of a fledgling business person.

Her test also identified that she would benefit from traveling and it sensed that she was in a bit of a dilemma. I confronted her on this matter and sure enough she was torn between “going travelling” with her boyfriend and starting a job.

I suggested that she should be decisive and as her profile suggested a job working for someone else may just drive her bananas.She just needed a little motivation.

Last week I got a telephone call asking for an appointment to meet with her and her now fiancee. They were back from their holiday, and they had formed a solid business idea and they were putting a plan together. They wanted my advice. I was honoured to meet with her and excited to be a small part in giving her the confidence for her to choose the correct direction of her life.

After a a couple of hours, it turned out, she and her fiancee are about to become UKFast clients and it is looking likely that we will designing and hosting their software to run their new business idea.
If you have a dream, dont lie in bed and procrastinate, or talk about your venture to your pals for years and years. Get a pen and paper and start writing lists, start goal setting. Start organising what you need for your new future. And OK, if it fails, guess what, you pick yourself up, brush yourself down, remember the lessons of the failure and start again. You keep doing this until you get it right.

If a baby is struggling to learn how to walk, do we give up on the baby? Does the baby give up? Never! They keep standing up and falling down until they perfect the art.

Yet as adults this is drummed out of us. We become fearful of what our peers think. A great entrepreneur is born out of simply not caring what those around them think. This in my opinion is why so many dysfunctional kids succeed where clever folk fail. A dysfunctional child is reminded all through their life how much of a failure they are. So it becomes easier to go it alone than be reminded of this throughout a professional career.

My fathers favourite line which stuck with me was “son, you will not even be able to hold down a bin mans job” it was said so much I believed him. So when the time came I did not dare attempt to get a job. Instead I became self employed by default.

All the big entrepreneurs that I know tell a similar story.

Ignore teachers, parents and your peers. Get out and have a go! What is the worst that can happen. Especially whilst you are young and in a recession. In a climate like today’s there isn’t a more perfect time to cut your teeth.

Good luck!

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