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The Trick to Being a Successful Entrepreneur? – by Steve Songaila

Steve Songaila

Steve Songaila

Sometimes you listen to something and it strikes a chord, I have some very eclectic tastes in music from The Rat Pack, through the 80’s New Romantics and plenty of stuff that is playing on the radio now, probably much to my children’s annoyance!

I currently have Alicia Keys playing in the car. Her album is entitled Element of Freedom, apart from the fact I like that style of music I play the first track over and over again.

The first track is really a voice over where Alicia explains the album title. In this track she says that the element of freedom is:

“When the pain of staying where you are being what you are is more than the pain of changing” I really couldn’t have described what being an entrepreneur is all about in a more concise way than this.

There is a lot of claptrap and let’s say egos in the bios written by the headline entrepreneurs such as Sir Richard Branson the like, along the lines of I had a dream….

It strikes me that sir Richard’s dream was to make money very laudable, but without the help of an Auntie paying a £30k fine in the late sixties I doubt whether we would be all flying on Virgin Atlantic.

I also feel it sends out a confusing message to people about to take the leap of strength required to be a successful entrepreneur. They seem to think you have to wait for that magic idea, that golden product in the same vein as Sir Richard, Dragon’s Den seems to take this view.

Many people practice ‘someday isle’ mentality when thinking about changing their career or starting a business. In my personal experience when you finally make that leap it is because the pain of being where you are is too great and change just has to happen.

In fact Kris Akabusi a famous athlete who is a great motivational speaker was the first speaker I heard talking like Alicia Keys about the power of pain to drive you to making a change in your life.

The trick to being a successful entrepreneur is……there is no trick, and it isn’t about inventing a new service or product although it could be of course. My favourite definition from one dictionary is “someone who makes things happen”.

In essence all entrepreneurs make things happen, in that before them, their operation or idea didn’t exist.

So what do you need to make things happen and join our ranks? I believe there are five key attributes.

  1. Absolute unshakeable, to the point of arrogance, belief that you can operate a business or deliver an idea better than anyone else. This is the cornerstone because in the thousands of decisions and situations you will face this will be tested.
  2. You have generated enough pain that you really have the Element of Freedom. You are almost so angry with your life, situation or job that you have hit the launch button –remember to enjoy the ride.
  3. Stamina. Those long working weeks are true (we probably embellish them a little) in the early years they are essential.
  4. A healthy disrespect for systems, advisors, bank managers and their ilk. They aren’t taking the risk for the reward you are – never let them forgot that.
  5. Learn to sell. You will be the primary sales driver for your business in the early years.  Don’t succumb to the British disease of dismissing sales skills. Mary Kay Ash the founder of a billion dollar business said “Nothing happens until someone sells something”.

Still thinking success in a career is the same as success as an entrepreneur? Don’t kid yourself as an old friend said to me once:

When you work for someone else you think you are good, when you work for yourself you know how good you are.

Pick up the element of freedom and enjoy the ride.

Steve Songaila is the founder and CEO of Twin Systems plc. Steve has had nearly 25 years experience of delivering technology services to a multitude of clients. His passion to create a vibrant IT services enterprise that delivers excellent client service, from a UK base, has won Twin Systems plc many plaudits.
The emergence of new digital technologies is a challenge that all leaders in business face – and one where they can use help and support from experts such as Steve.
At the Academy for Chief Executives (ACE), the leading provider of experiential business learning, leaders are provided with an outlet for any feeling of isolation and uncertainty by building a community of like-minded individuals around them.  The digital economy and how businesses can engage with it  is one of many subjects The Academy has experts on.  For more visit

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