‘Some Thoughts on Entrepreneurial Success’ by Chris Cardell

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“No Corporations for the New Age Sons” I remember those words being spat out of my record player by Paul Weller when I was 13 years old, refusing to do my irrelevant homework and instead playing The Jam’s ‘When You’re Young’ for the 757th time – just in case I’d missed something of importance.

Those words made perfect sense to me then – and they still do today. Us Entrepreneurs are deeply mis-understood. They think we do it because we want wealth and success. We’re actually far more motivated by avoiding the pain of working for someone for a living. If you’ve had your own business for a while – then you and I share a big problem: We’re unemployable. We think too differently to be employed by anyone now. So we need to do this instead.

The Entrepreneurial life is ultimately about one thing: Freedom. The freedom to do what you want, where and when you want. The freedom that comes with financial success – and the freedom to be your own boss.

Unfortunately, most Entrepreneurs’ lives don’t contain much freedom. They’re full of struggle. Financial struggle, personal struggle, dealing with staff and suppliers struggle etc etc. It’s a long list.

Some of that struggle comes with the gig. Business success is not an overnight achievement. But much of the struggle is self - inflicted. It’s inflicted by trying to run a business without mastering the art and science of attracting and keeping customers. The art and science of Marketing and Online Marketing. In this economy, you’d better be willing to make a decision to do whatever it takes to master that art and science. If you’re not, I have absolutely no idea how to save you from going back to being an employee.

You don’t have to love Marketing or the idea of it, to get good at it. To be honest, there are about 101 things I’d sooner do instead. But I’m an Entrepreneur so I don’t have that luxury – and neither do you. All you have to do is understand that Marketing is a means to an end: financial freedom for you and those you care about – and the opportunity to serve people with your product or service and be appropriately rewarded in return.

There’s something else I learnt from those Jam songs: Don’t you ever, ever give up on your dreams. Becoming a successful Entrepreneur is extremely hard work – which is why so few achieve it. You may have to change direction. If you’re trying to sell something nobody wants (don’t confuse persistence with being daft) you may need to completely change direction and come up with a new business. That’s allowed. Giving up on the dream isn’t. It will sometimes feel like the Universe is conspiring against you. It’s not. It’s testing you. Those self-help books were only half right when they said ‘You can have anything you want.’ The truth is ‘You can have anything you want – if you’re willing to pay the price.’ Most aren’t. Hopefully, you are.

  • Simon Woodroffe, founder of Yo Shushi! With his tips for Success at Chris Cardell’s Entrepreneur Summit
  • Why Testing is the foundation of all effective Marketing.
  • Chris spends a day on set with Robert DeNiro and emerges with some interesting perspectives and insights for Entrepreneurs.
  • Sir Bob Geldof on turning vision into reality at Chris Cardell’s Entrepreneur Summit