Taking a leap, not a step
- Published on Friday, 09 August 2013 13:52
Just about anywhere we go, when we meet someone new there is one question we'll be asked - the seemingly straight forward "so, what do you do?" For many people this is a simple question with a straightforward answer. For some people though, it is more difficult to give the "I do this and work at" answer people expect.
I'm in the latter group. Trying to sum up what I do and where I want to take those things inevitably leads to a much more in depth conversation, about what my skills and background are, where and how it earns money and so on. It can get quite difficult trying to make a different approach to work and career compatible with the way most people approach it. People are usually interested, but there is a logic gap which makes it hard for them to follow some of what you tell them.
To me a big factor in the gap in understanding comes from the way we are brought up. Through our schooling, parents and just about everywhere we are taught about climbing the ladder - in our education, work and career and life in general. The rhetoric is always about taking steps, starting at the bottom and working your way up. For many people this works and it is a useful way to instil perseverance and work ethic.
The thing is, some people just don't think that way, and don't work their best trying to fit that mould. Climbing the ladder defines something potentially not intended by many people who use it as an analogy. It is a linear process, implying one thing happens before the next. Even without a time scale, this causes issues if your focus isn’t on a traditional, single destination goal.
To me the incremental climbing of a career ladder stifles a lot of creativity. That isn’t to say there aren’t things which need to be learned from experience, not at all. Personal experience isn’t everything though, shared experience can be much more beneficial to an organisation and individuals.
Some people, and I include myself as one, are not made for the 9 to 5 switch on, switch off work mode. Personally, I work best when I’m constantly changing what I’m doing, where my focus is and what I am delivering. If I don’t I become unmotivated and my ability to be creative and problem solve changes.
The solution for me became very clear - to set myself up to focus my energy and ideas on new, creative and sometimes a little bit crazy ideas. The only problem for me is describing what I do in a concise and accurate way.
Part of the problem is that the term entrepreneur has become so common it is almost overused. The serial start-up business, new market and disruptive side of the entrepreneur has become diluted by part-time small businesses and hobbyists. While I think there is definitely a place for any one and any idea which is viable, there is a difference between starting a new ladder, or working on multiple ladders at once and throwing away the ladder all together.
What I have boiled it all down to is one basic notion - what is it you want? Are you climbing the ladder or taking a jump into something completely new and different?
If you are taking the jump it is most likely going to be because you want to change something, either about an industry, a market or yourself (or any combination of the three). To really change you need to take a leap of faith, in yourself and what you're doing.
So how am I going to start introducing myself?
“I’m Andrew and I jump on ideas and see what can be made of them.”
A lot of running to end up standing still
- Published on Monday, 03 June 2013 09:44
Learn to evolve.
Listen to everyone, not just the people who like you.
Be less scared.
Is it really about the future?
- Published on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 13:29
The Federal Budget is set to be handed down tonight in Australia, and Treasurer Wayne Swan has said this budget is "about the future".
Unfortunately, I don't think we are going to see some areas key to securing the social and economic future of the country addressed. As someone running a small business operating in non-traditional industries and markets, trying to do something a little bit different, my take on things might be fairly specific - I do think it is worth considering.
It doesn't matter if we like it or not, the economy affects all of us. Simply, a strong economy is good, a weak one is bad and one on the way down terrifies the market, making things unstable and unpredictable. No matter your political leaning, ideological perspective or opinion on where things are heading, there is one thing which is very difficult to argue. A strong, profitable private sector is a stabiliser and safety net. Giving the private sector it's best chance to grow, and not penalising it when it is successful, is key to our financial future.
From what I have seen in other countries and the people I have spoken to, I don't think we are good at that here. Our private market and start-up environment is very immature. So, in my opinion, what is it this budget should look at that it probably wont?
We need to support private innovation. Australians produce incredible ideas. Unfortunately many of them end up going elsewhere to be successful. I was astounded recently to realise first hand how many Aussies have taken their ideas to Silicon Valley, becoming American companies, to be able to make them happen. As a nation we need to support private enterprises, large and small, to conceive, develop and produce their innovative ideas.
Our venture capital market is so immature compared to other economies and risk averse it has become negative. The government grant systems are good, but many require dollar for dollar matched funding and all require too much paperwork and time spent away from the innovation. Businesses and innovators are penalised for developing an idea and realising it isn't viable or turning it into something else. That's part of the path to creating great things - remember Rome wasn't built in a day. It is simply too difficult and expensive to develop an idea in Australia right now.
There needs to be more support for private sector growth. At the moment as a business it is difficult to think of an area of business where there isn't a government fee or tax associated. I appreciate the need for government to raise revenue to fund public programs entirely, this isn't a comment on that. The fact is though that in their current form many of them discourage growth until it becomes vital. Very rarely will you hear a business say they are going to employ more staff to try and expand their business, more staff are engaged when it becomes absolutely necessary to do so, there are just too many costs associated otherwise.
Business profits are also penalised. Profits are always reinvested. Whether directly back into the business or through dividends and into retail markets and so on. The more a business stands to earn the more, ultimately, will be returned to the economy. Structures and systems which make it more cost effective to remain at a smaller size as a business stifle potential economic growth. Especially in terms of export potential.
Encouraging business to grow results in more people employed and more money in the economy, along with fewer costs in government benefits.
It needs to be instilled in our society that it is ok to take a different path. Entrepreneurship has born many of the revolutionary products, industries and ideas which are now incorporated in our everyday lives. Unfortunately Australia still holds on to its "tall poppy" mentality when it comes to this area. We need to encourage people to take a different line, to risk their own security and position to try to create something they are passionate about. We need to do it as a society and we need to teach the value of it in schools and tertiary institutions.
Being a fantastically skilled person in any organisation, doing great work, is a wonderful thing, and many people want to do a good job and go home. There are those people, though, who want to be the people who set the challenges for others to meet, to try something completely different. We need them in our country too, we need to show people the value of that way of thinking.
The next wave of private sector growth will be vital to Australia's future. I truly hope we see a budget tonight that acknowledges that and takes active steps to support it.
But I fear we won't.
Belief, conviction and purpose
- Published on Friday, 22 March 2013 07:38
I'm not going to pretend for a second the road to achieving the things you want will be an easy journey. The more you choose to take on yourself and do on your own, the more difficulty there will be. The payoff for all that is that when you do reach your goal the reward and satisfaction will be far greater.
Does business face months of waiting for the flag to drop?
- Published on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 21:42