There was an article by Mark Harai on Spinsucks.com the other week that caught my eye, it’s called “The Realities of Successful Entrepreneurs”. It reminded me of a story I haven’t told for a long while.
Back around 2002 I was running N1 Creative, a struggling digital creative agency. We built websites, brands and bits of commerce sites. We’d had a lot of useful support from Business Link for London and they had commissioned a corporate video to sell their expertise.
Their video production team turned up at my tiny office to hear me talk about entrepreneurship but unfortunately caught be on a bit of a bad day. I’d decided to take an honesty pill at the same time so every time they asked an upbeat question about what it was like to run my own business, I gave it to them straight about how it might be worthwhile but very hard work, long hours, anti social, stressful - you can imagine the full story. I realised months later it was nothing like the happy, positive, upbeat story that they wanted and when I saw the video months later I’d been edited down to a nanosecond, just a glimpse of me before I could voice my misery!
Whilst I didn’t get my headline role in that video, I did make friends with the production company Dreaming Fish and we kept in touch. I’m glad we did as they’ve done every corporate video we’ve ever commissioned since and have worked with us continually for the last few years.
Last week I was with our Sales Director Tom Lavery and he said to me “Do you find it hard to be CEO?”. I brushed over the question and didn’t really answer him and I remember wondering later what he really meant. Was he wondering how I made such masterful decisions whilst making it look easy? Or was he thinking that I looked strained, tired and confused and was making a mess of it? Either could have been true as the honest answer is that sometimes it’s a dream and sometimes it’s really hard. But being a CEO is never boring and its never dull. The days go quickly and you get to choose who you work with and therefore get to work with great people - there’s a lot to be said for that.
The thing about being an entrepreneur is that even when its hard, even when your nerves are freyed and the only thing you are certain of is that you’ve no idea what you’re doing, even when you feel you could stick your head in the oven - you know you could never imagine doing anything else. Entrepreneurs are born and they have to deal the hand they are dealt. To be honest it’s their wives, husbands, partners and girlfriends we should feel sorry for, they have to put up with us.
So thank you, to all of them, on behalf of all of us.
Further reading (listening actually)
If you’re interested in hearing another perspective on what drives entrepreneurs, check out this BBC Radio 4 programme from 2005 - The Entrepreneurs Wound.