Techstars Startup Week LDN: What It Takes To Be A Successful Entrepreneur

Our Co-Founder & CEO, Alan Jones, sat down with Alex Barker (Founder & Author, Be More Pirate), Jasmine Douglas (Founder, Babes On Waves) and Kathy Harvey (Associate Dean of MBA, Said Business School) to discuss ‘What it takes to be a successful entrepreneur’. From discussing what daily mindset aspiring entrepreneurs should have, to the importance of building a strong team that believes in the business and vision. If you missed out on the event, here are some of the stand-out points from the discussion.


Alex Barker pointed out: “Success to you might look like failure to someone else”.

What does success look like? 

AJ: Success itself can be measured by your legacy and your influence. Success is varied, it’s not necessarily about how much money you make. In my opinion, it’s about the legacy you leave behind, it’s about how you can affect change. There is no greater reward than being able to affect change and look back and say I had something to do with that. 


What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?

AJ: The most important thing is the mental strength that it takes, don’t ever underestimate what it takes to get you out of bed and motivated every single morning.

Someone once described me as someone that eats, sleeps and drinks their business. You go to bed and it’s the last thought you have and when you close your eyes, it’s what you then dream about. Then you wake up in the morning, before you even put your shoes on to leave, you are already thinking about your business. It’s all consuming. It takes a lot of mental strength to put your game face on and go out and lead your company, to go out and be passionate about your product, your customer base and your service. If you don’t have that, in my opinion, give up because that’s what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. 


What is being an ‘Entrepreneur’?

AJ: An entrepreneur is a person that wants to affect change and has a desire to change the world. They are people that can truly influence and make change for us all. 

An entrepreneur is not about size. They are people that can get out there, that can assemble brilliant teams and that can take their passion and indoctrinate their team with a similar ideal and enable people to carry that forward – that’s an entrepreneur. 


Do you have to love risk to be an entrepreneur?

As far as risk is concerned – it’s shit or bust – for entrepreneurs, it’s all in or forget it. 

This is my fifth business, I have successfully sold four with various levels of success, and again, success for me is about making change or an impact, it’s not necessarily about that billion dollar cheque, in each case, I have risked pretty much everything. If you’re not prepared to go all the way, then I think you limit your own horizons. 


Let’s talk about what it takes to be a leader?

AJ: As entrepreneurs, you need to be curious, you need to be persistent and you have to be able to work well with other people and build partnerships.


Let’s talk about growing your team and hiring. 

AJ: Hiring can be an absolute nightmare. Covid has made that process even harder because it has meant that we have ‘virtual interviews’ where we then are missing the sixth sense, and the feelings you can pick up on when you meet with someone face to face. My advice is to take time to meet and go through a thorough interview process to get the right people. Like the old saying, measure twice and cut once. It’s important to hire people that will give your business diverse perspectives. 


How important is it to listen to your team?

AJ: Your team is everything. You have to be able to manage change as if you’re on a sailing boat. You always have your focus on where you want to end up on the horizon, but as the wind and water changes you need to tack, momentarily changing direction to enable you to use the elements to reach your destination. In business you need to pivot and allow for the elements within your market. The important thing is to carry your team with you and always focus on the final goals.