“Natural born entrepreneur” is a phrase that you hear, but it can act as deterrent to wannabe entrepreneurs who may feel that they haven’t got the “right” attributes or have left it too late in life.
You often get the impression, from reading about or listening to successful entrepreneurs, that entrepreneurialism is something that you are genetically predisposed to and that you’ve either got it or you haven’t – if you weren’t out there making your first fortune as a 12 year old school kid, you may as well resign yourself to a life as a wage slave! Now I completely accept that some people, from a young age, are destined to follow an entrepreneurial path. However, I also believe that there is a sizeable subset of entrepreneurs who, for various reasons, set out on that journey later in life, and indeed that these “late developers” may well have learnt skills in the intervening years that enhance their chances of entrepreneurial success.
I am a good example of a late blooming entrepreneur. Throughout my teens and twenties I showed zero signs of entrepreneurialism – I wasn’t running club nights at university, or running a business in my spare time – I followed a safe, comfortably paid career path, working for 10 years in banking in London.
It wasn’t until I entered my thirties that I began to be dissatisfied with my job – I spent much of the time feeling “numb” and bored by work, sitting in interminable meetings and conference calls. That feeling festered for a couple of years before I began to take positive steps to do anything about it. For me, the big catalyst to starting my own business was to quit my job and move to Canada with my wife, Leah. At that point I was 35, and I moved here having a clear idea that I didn’t want to stay in banking or anything similar, and rather naively thinking that I would start my own business.
As it turned out, for me there were clear advantages of leaving it later:
- Skillset: I was able to draw on the experience and expertise I had gathered in my earlier career to assist in both analyzing opportunities and getting the business up and running.
- Financing: I had a small financial cushion which I was able to utilize to stave off requiring a full time career for a couple of years (I did work part time as a real estate agent to bring some income in while developing the business) and to use as seed capital for the business.
- Necessity: it felt like it was now or never! I knew that I didn’t want to return to my earlier career so that really focused my mind on coming up with an idea that could be successful.
- Scale: it forced me to think bigger. I needed a business that, once up and running, would quickly be able to generate me a full salary to support my family, and have the potential to be much bigger.
I am now well into my new life as an entrepreneur, and have no regrets about starting later – that was the path that brought me to this place.