At the semi-finals of the Venus Awards, Thames Valley last week our founder Rachel Eden was put through as a finalist for Entrepreneur of the year. Team member Lyndsay Henderson was in the running as the business mother of the year and made it to being a semi-finalist. Rachel shares her thoughts on being an ‘entrepreneur’.
When I was initially nominated as ‘entrepreneur of the year’ in the Venus awards I was in two minds about it. Although I’ve built Holy Brook Associates from the stereotypical ‘on my dining room table’ pipe dream to a values-based company that I’m hugely proud of that both serves our existing clients and is growing to serve new clients I’ve been reluctant to take the label of “entrepreneur”.
Being involved in the Venus awards, which is an award ceremony focused on women, has caused me to reflect on this. I’m meeting with the sponsor, Jack FM, tomorrow (13th April) and in preparing for this I’ve been thinking about why I have been slightly embarrassed by the term.
At the semi-finalist announcement, Tara Howard – the founder of the awards – pointed out that many of the women in other categories were entrepreneurs and yet hadn’t been nominated as such, so I know I’m not alone in this reluctance to take this label. It may be a gender-based thing, but I suspect quite a few men would have the same reluctance.
Perhaps it is because there is a stereotype of an entrepreneur being a young hotshot working in an office full of beanbags and taking excessive risks. Perhaps it is part of imposter syndrome – an entrepreneur is Steve Jobs or Richard Branson not ‘just me’.
However, as soon as I started thinking of myself as being an entrepreneur it changed my mindset and has focused me in on four key activities.
Firstly, it reminded me that while Holy Brook Associates has already grown and developed it is still developing and growing and that we should continue to focus on innovating and trying new things.
Secondly, the heart of entrepreneurship is creating and seeking value – and that I should continue to look at how we can develop, whether it is through developing our informal recognition system ‘Holy Brook kudos’, supporting our clients or helping our charity of the year in a different way.
Thirdly an entrepreneur is a coordinator, so this has reminded me that Holy Brook Associates is most definitely not ‘just me’. I have an absolutely stellar team around me. Because Holy Brook has a networked and devolved approach I coordinate them rather than manage the team. Focusing on my role as an entrepreneur reminded me of that key coordination role that an entrepreneur plays, and – crucially – reminded me to delegate tasks both internally and bring in external people to support us.
Finally and perhaps most importantly putting a label on myself and having a certificate up saying ‘Entrepreneur of the year: finalist’ it has both made me commit. I’m now more determined to not faff about, but to build a sustainable, successful organisation that will continue to add value to our clients and community.
I’d encourage others to take that same step and – if you are an entrepreneur – call yourself one.
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