How to lead like an entrepreneur
The ICAS Insights: How to lead like an entrepreneur webinar brought together a diverse and enthusiastic group of entrepreneurial minded CAs for an enlightening discussion on what it means to be an entrepreneur.
Sean McGrath CA, FD, Entrepreneurial Scotland hosted the webinar and was joined by:
- Aaron Falls CA, Group Strategy Director, ADL
- Diana Muendo CA, Co-Founder of M.Y.O & Creative Jungle Company & Author of Children's Book Big Hair Parade
- Kevin MacDonald CA, Owner/Director, Red Hot Chilli Pipers.
What makes an entrepreneur?
Sean opened the session by sharing his interpretation of the term “entrepreneur”.
He said: “Entrepreneurs are often described as the lifeblood of the economy. They help shape the business landscape and generate new job opportunities, create new solutions to everyday problems and represent some of the most innovative individuals in the business landscape.
“But there is much more to being an entrepreneur than starting your own business. Leading like an entrepreneur requires a blend of being able to recognise a fantastic idea, whether that’s your own or someone else’s, and having the drive to make that dream a reality.”
Although the definition that Sean gave can be directly linked to Kevin’s career journey in taking the Red Hot Chilli Pipers to the heady hights of international stardom, he is unsure if he would class himself as an entrepreneur.
“I classify myself as a businessman,” said Kevin.
“I’ve ended up at 42, coming on to 43, doing the things I love in life, and if that’s tagged with entrepreneurship then great.”
This was a sentiment echoed by Diana who described feeling that her personal identity and being identified with the “lofty” title of entrepreneur were two very separate ideas during the start of her career journey.
“At first you just think ‘Who am I to set this company up? Who am I to charge clients for this?’,” she said.
“But the more you do and the more you see that you are creating value, the more confident you become.”
Self-belief and confidence, both inwardly and projected outwards, are invaluable to successfully leading like an entrepreneur.
Something which all the speakers agreed on was that to effectively lead with an entrepreneurial mindset, you need to recognise the importance of surrounding yourself with a team you can trust. It is also crucial that you not only lead them, but actively listen to them and reach out to them for new ideas and innovative solutions.
“The team become an extension of you – the entrepreneur,” Diana said.
For Aaron, it is about creating a culture where new ideas are welcomed and, perhaps more importantly, can fail. The principles on which entrepreneurs operate on is something which Aaron feels should be more widely recognised in larger organisations.
He said: “Larger businesses, even though by definition [are] less entrepreneurial, actually have the framework and resources to support entrepreneurship and don’t do it as well as they should.”
Something which Kevin believes works to an entrepreneur’s advantage is that they are able to look forward to finding a solution when something goes wrong, rather than looking back to place blame on the individual.
A focus on mental fitness
Having a strong team around you doesn’t exclusively refer to an entrepreneur’s workplace. It is equally vital to have a support system around you outside of the business environment. This is support you can turn to, to work through some of the unique pressures felt by entrepreneurial leaders.
Diana has acutely felt these pressures recently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said: “Running a business in hospitality which was closed during COVID and having that feeling of ‘I literally don’t know what to do next’…and having that feeling of responsibility for your team, for your business, for your customers, that’s weighing on you.”
To combat this, Diana turned to the vast number of resources available today including online coaching, books on dealing with stress and her love of keeping a journal.
For Aaron, taking time out in the week to focus on self-reflection has benefited him throughout his career.
Aaron said: “Take a couple of hours every week to [ask] ‘What am I about? What am I trying to achieve?’”
ICAS Insights: How to lead like an entrepreneur is available to watch on demand now.