Embracing Entrepreneurial Diversity
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I read this piece a few days ago, where the Evening Standard reported on James Middleton’s (brother of the Princess of Wales) series of businesses.
In the article, it was said that James’s continual appetite to launch new businesses and brands, and not see them through, was down to his diagnosis of ADD.
I have similar traits and patterns of behaviour to James (though not the millionaire investors, unfortunately). I have mentioned before that I have more than one job and business, across a few different sectors. The very thought of going to the same workplace, doing the same job, for 40 hours or more of the week, positively frightens me. My boredom could never, as they say.
I like the switching around, the diary juggling, the fact that no two days are the same in my working life. I like that I’m constantly learning new things, that I don’t rely on one income stream nor get so frustrated with one task that I feel like jacking the whole thing in…because it’s only a few hours before I’m on a completely different one by nature within a totally different industry.
I have my flaws, without doubt, but what I am good at is ideas. I’m an ideas person. I can think of solutions until the cows come home…brand ideas, products that should be invented, better ways of presenting or marketing an item already for sale.
This element of my psyche has seen me start a few different businesses, predominantly as a freelancer/sole trader, which thankfully causes little damage when I either pull the plug or switch to doing something else. However, the downside of having so many hats to wear is that I now struggle to explain my working life.
‘So, what do you do?’ or ‘What business are you in?’ are common questions pointed at you when networking in business or meeting new people. I used to have a passable elevator pitch but now I really and truly struggle. I’ve resorted to just saying, ‘I do many things’ because it feels a little embarrassing to start listing them all. It doesn’t sound impressive when I do, it just sounds like I have a bit of a mental issue or an inability to commit to anything (claims that aren’t untrue).
Being able to succinctly say what you do is important in business. I’m incredibly passionate about all of my roles, so how do I get past this problem? And the other downside, if you’ve worked for yourself for as long as I have, is that people have long memories.
This is where I feel for James Middleton. It’s bad enough failing at something and starting again; in this instance, there should be a reset button on people’s memories, so that anyone you speak to about your new venture is unaware of your last one. As well as the current roles I juggle and fail to express, I’m also known for a couple of other services that I don’t even mention or promote anymore (but which I still get asked to do from time to time).
What constitutes a business failure anyway? The business I had when my girls were little admittedly didn’t make much money, but as I wasn’t rushed off my feet, I inadvertently spent a lot of time with them in their formative years. Though it was a worry from a financial point of view back then, I have a wonderfully close relationship with my adult daughters today—which is something that money can’t buy. This is the same ‘failed’ business I refer to in the last paragraph…a business I don’t have to market anymore. The quality of the work I completed in this enterprise speaks for me and continues to bring me enquiries and sporadic projects many years later. I’m not sure that is a failure.
James Middleton will always come up smelling of roses, due to the financial safety blankets that will no doubt be available to him throughout his life. I fully believe that he believes each of his new businesses will be the one that is a huge success, the one that endures. What he needs is a reliable partner who can go the distance and become his entrepreneurial rock. This is something I’ve never had—I’ve only encountered a partner that took advantage, but I do think this is where the right foundations lay for him and me. I liken us to butterflies that sit on something for a while, deep in thought and resplendent, before we take off again, in search of a new adventure.
It takes all sorts to make a world, and I know I get off on the creative aspect of a business, on the possibilities and the launching and the newness of them. My punishment is where I am now, with my inability to be able to label myself as one thing or another, or to even lay claim to a sector at least. I can’t help being easily bored, nor can I put out the fires of creativity and ideas inside me when they start.