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This podcast selection is taken from a series of Business Hub radio shows broadcast on Star FM between February 2011 and October 2014 with advice from basic book-keeping through to crowd funding, directors loans, cashflow and a whole lot more!

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Business Trouble - your choices

What does it take to be an Entrepreneur?

The Business Hub Show - 21 September 2014

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What attributes would you say makes someone an entrepreneur?


A successful entrepreneur has huge self-belief and vision and knows where they are going. There is a common misconception that businesses are created by entrepreneurs but they invariably are not. They are created by technicians that can do what the business does and then they become entrepreneurs.  It’s a different way of looking at it.  Most people create businesses based on their background.

The problem with that is because people can do what the business does, they automatically feel they are gifted with the ability to run a business doing that work which is often not the case.

In my view it’s someone who understands this and appreciates they can’t do everything. They have a role to play in their business and they need to build a team around them who can do the technical and other key areas of the business to drive it forward. The entrepreneur leads that team and gives them the passion and the vision.

If the business does what they do and if they try to do absolutely everything themselves, they are not going to do the things they need to do which is lead their business.


Would you consider yourself to be a successful entrepreneur and in terms of becoming a successful outsourced accountancy business what attributes do you take as an entrepreneur and share with clients.


Yes.  I’m fortunate that what we’ve done at Insight Associates has worked and is a successful business. I don’t think that puts me on a pedestal and makes me a successful entrepreneur.

I made the classic mistake of creating a business that does what I do.  What happened in the early stages of the business and what does still happen today, is that I get involved in delivering that work.


So a serial entrepreneur wouldn’t be getting as involved in the business?


No they would be standing away from it. For example Stelios of EasyJet is a self-professed creator of businesses not a runner of businesses.  He’s never ran a business in his life.  He’s created a brand and business ideas around it and let other people run them.

So in my mind what makes a person successful as an entrepreneur is the ability to understand what they are good at and not good at and play to their strengths and build a team around them that can complement their position and build from that base because it’s not about one person.  It needs someone to give it vision and drive it forward and that’s invariably the owner but that isn’t necessarily a superman/woman, it’s someone that understands themselves well enough to know what they’re good at and drive that point. 


Can anyone be an entrepreneur?


I think the simple answer to that is yes. But, to my mind the successful entrepreneur needs to be someone that’s displaying those attributes you talked about earlier. Vision, self-belief, self-drive and the ability to bring other people with them. The other key aspect is to try and define what you mean by an entrepreneur because is anyone who runs a business an entrepreneur?  I don’t think so.


I suppose you could argue a successful business person will have vision, passion, tenacity and self-belief so what is it that gives them that ‘cult’ status of being an ‘entrepreneur’?


I think probably being ‘more successful’ or ‘better at it’. Anybody who has created and successfully ran a business could be justifiably regarded as an entrepreneur.

I think they need a lot of self-belief, belief in their mission, and knowing what it is they want to create.

For example you wouldn’t go on a car journey without knowing your destination but this often does happen when people create a business.


So it’s these attributes coupled with how we apply these in the business and to what aim.


I believe that the life of a business can potentially go through 3 stages.

There’s about 4.8 Million businesses in the UK and a large proportion of them are in the infancy stage.  An infant business is largely owner dependent. If the owner doesn’t turn up for work the business will falter. It needs the owner to operate it. Lifestyle businesses are included here, they are businesses created by the people running them in order to give themselves an income – painters, decorators, plumbers etc. You wouldn’t call those people entrepreneurs even though they have created a business.

The other end of the scale is Maturity. A mature business is one that is owner independent. It doesn’t need the people who created that business to be there to make it work. They are systems ran businesses and the people there run those systems. It has the ability to run itself and has independent value. Someone else can come along and buy that business. It’s worth something to them because it can still operate. They can leave the original owners behind. If you want to sell your business that is ultimately what you are aiming for. You need to create something that is saleable without selling yourself too.

The middle ground – the bit that gets you from infancy to maturity is what I quite like to call adolescence because it’s a period of change, growth, pain and difficulty because things are changing. You need to get away from the infant way of thinking and start thinking like a mature business.

Typically this is where we operate at Insight Associates. We take people through that change process and build something that becomes mature and has value. That is where the true entrepreneurs come to the fore. These are the people that have the vision to invest in their future and see the future and want to drive through that period of change.


Do most adolescents get to maturity?


No but you can still sell a business that is in adolescence depending on what phase it is at and who the buyer is.


Sometimes when a business is in that adolescent stage does the owner get constrained and then switch off and revert to plan A?


Sometimes the adolescent period can become so overwhelming that they re-trench and become infant again thinking it’s too difficult. So in some ways the adolescent phase is a good test of whether the person is a true entrepreneur. Can they reach their vision and goal at the end of it? It is difficult because you have to change all the things you used to do to build something which is self-sustaining. That to my mind is the way to describe someone who has been successful as an entrepreneur.


Do you work with a lot of customers in that stage of their business?


Yes that is our core area of our business. It is when they see us as an investment in their future by providing the financial management support that goes with that process and that is where things work extremely well.  We often have to pull them through that process because it can be difficult – as they have to do things differently in order to achieve the final goal.




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