Friday 17 November 2017

What I wish I'd known: An entrepreneur's life involves a great deal of sacrifice - most of which is self-inflicted

Ferdi Roberts, founder, GamerCon

Ferdi Roberts, founder, GamerCon
Ferdi Roberts, founder, GamerCon

Growing up in a Midlands orphanage in the 1970s and 80s, the early signs of my entrepreneurial spirit were evident. As a nine-year-old, each Saturday I would wait until morning TV had started and all of the kids were seated, engrossed in 'Anything Goes' or 'Bilko'. When you were lucky to get a seat with a good view you didn't want to give it up, as you had 20 other eager kids vying for it.

I was happy to forego my seat, it allowed me to walk across to the local shop and buy as many sweets as possible. When I returned, I had willing buyers with the handsome margin I'd applied. It was eight penny sweets for 10 pence. Twenty per cent - not a bad margin! My first lesson in business was "know your customer".

I was never afraid of failure, as coming from meagre beginnings meant anything I did was a step forward. This is a valuable lesson for anyone seeking to start a business. Don't be afraid of failure. Whenever you do something new you will attract doubters. Don't be put off by this. Listen, evaluate and ignore where appropriate. If it's something new, there are no experts, merely observers. You are the one breaking through. A personal mantra of mine is to ignore advice from people who have never achieved anything.

Keep a close eye on your bottom line. I've made the mistake of aggressively growing businesses only to discover that, despite significant growth, my invoices were not being paid as quickly as my expenses. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of growth and suddenly find yourself in a cash-flow crisis. Find a good accountant and tax adviser before you start your business, to be aware of your financial limits and manage within them.

Being an entrepreneur is not glamorous. It involves personal sacrifice, financial instability, relationship challenges and more. If you are entrepreneurially minded, all of this will be ignored. You will never switch off from thinking about your business and work every hour you can. You will have countless sleepless nights. You will have very difficult conversations with others, and with yourself. You will constantly question whether you know what you are doing. It is not in spite of this, but rather, because of this that you will succeed. Be prepared - the life of an entrepreneur involves a great deal of sacrifice, most of which is self-inflicted.

Sunday Indo Business

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