Expert advice on how to become a successful entrepreneur
We caught up with renowned entrepreneur and former Dragons' Den venture capitalist Arlene Dickinson for some words of wisdom about running your own business. Here are six of her top tips.
1. CREATE YOUR OWN DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
“It has to be something that makes you feel good about what you’ve accomplished – like for me pushing myself to do things that I didn’t think were possible. It’s important not to think about the definition in the context of how other people view success [versus] what you personally feel is going to make you satisfied or happy. But that’s the hardest thing in the world to do because it’s easy to live by other people’s standards.”
2. TAKE A RISK
“This is going to sound so cliché, but that first step truly is the hardest. A lot of people say, ‘I want to be an entrepreneur but I worry about this or that,’ or, ‘I want to try to start a business but I can’t seem to figure out what it is.’ But to me that’s a little bit of a red herring excuse. The real thing stopping you is yourself and your own belief that you can, and being able to accept that you might not do well at it. The hardest part is letting yourself understand that you might do this and it might not work, but that’s OK.”
“You need to have courage to start a business and you need to have courage to persevere… I actually just tweeted today: In order to never quit, you have to see hope. And in order to see hope, you have to never quit… that kind of perseverance, that kind of working your way through the challenges of being in business is not to be understated – it’s incredibly important.”
4. DEFINE YOUR OWN WORK-LIFE BALANCE
“I think work-life balance is so personal. We’re all different, and the notion that there’s this magic formula downplays the notion that we all live different lives. So I think work-life balance is being able to have the freedom to do what I want when I want to do it. For me, that means getting to spend time with my family, spending time on exercise, spending time at work – whatever makes me happy. If you’re happy, you’ve found it, and if you’re not, figure out what’s making you unhappy and change it.”
“There are many formalized networks for women, like the Women’s Executive Network or Women of Influence. For startups, there’s Startup Canada, there’s YouInc., my site, with lots of programs and expert advice where you can learn.”
6. ADVICE FOR MOMS (AND DADS) on parental leave
“Just because you’re at home with your child doesn’t mean that you should stop pushing yourself to learn and stay engaged and understand what’s going on. Don’t distance yourself from the business. Continue to stay up-to-date with things in the industry you’re in, continue to stay in contact with people, continue to feed your mind while you’re taking care of your child and being a great mom and continue to stay connected. I think the biggest mistake that can be made is that you go away for a year and you don’t engage at all and then you suddenly expect to just pick up. That absence can create distance, it can create a lack of top-of-mindedness and it can create a big learning curve for you as you try to get back into the workforce. So you want do demonstrate that you know what’s going on in your absence while still allowing yourself to be make sure that you’re being the kind of mom or dad you want to be at home.”
On May 19th, hear David Chilton and Arlene Dickinson from Dragons' Den live at The Orpheum as they share their wisdom and success stories on finding smart investments through tough economic times and transforming marketing departments into results-driven powerhouses. This is an exclusive opportunity to get inspired, informed and poised for success by Dragons.