I was supposed to blog about coffee, about fashion (Emma, please forgive me) and about hacking life as a mum, but tonight I navigate back to business and entrepreneurship. Trust me, I really do my best to avoid being an entrepreneur but the more I learn about it…well, it might just be my path. So, let’s start embracing it but discussing the ownership of ideas.
Many people tend to think that they own their ideas, but I think we only incubate them and we need to set them free. There are no original ideas. Ideas spread like fire – good ones and bad ones too. What makes a good idea impactful is the entrepreneurial success – read it again: entrepreneurial success.
For a long time, I lived in a very misguided understanding of the word ‘entrepreneur’. It was Martin Varsavsky who first woke me up to the idea of a thinker and doer. I was extremely privileged to work with Euan Semple back then and attend LeWeb London. The event was extremely overwhelming and the feminist in me raged ( the women-men ratio was not so welcoming) but Martin’s talk about his approach to free time, rest and holidays made me think about those of us who TAKE TIME and MAKE TIME to solve problems. Life confronted me with a lot of distractions but after a while, I also learned that entrepreneurship is not easy, not always fun but at the core of it really rewarding because we know that we solve problems and we help people solve their problems too.
What about success? If you add a layer of business to it than this entire problem-solving mechanism becomes more scalable, thus self-sustainable and more impactful. Let me explain. I work, I read about and I follow many successful individuals and visionaries but very few of them actually succeed financially and produce scalable solutions to their clients (commercial or 3rd sector – it really does not matter). I could say I am feeling a bit dubious about public speakers who position themselves as effective leaders and in the meantime it is their wives who actually pay the bills at the end of the month, but I know that success is not easy and needs to be shared by families, friends, networks. I could say exactly the same about motivational women leaders who live off their husband’s salaries, but I am one myself (I contribute to our family financially and effort-wise, but it is my husband who is responsible for the main income and safety blanket if my startup has difficult days). The point is – we all look for an easy way to become established, successful and inspiring but many of us don’t think about financial (and any other) independence. You learn it as a woman though. In this world. In the UK. In 2016. As a mother of a ten-year-old. As an established social media marketer. I am saying openly – I really find it difficult to be successful every day. Success comes easy to my husband who does not have to run two more companies (home and child’s education – I think that falls outside of mutually shared child’s upbringing, just for the record). But as difficult as it might be if we learn and understand the ingredients of effective, scalable entrepreneurship – we do succeed. We just need to learn to share the success with our partners and plan it with them. We also need to understand that success means something else to every single one of us. To me it is the freedom to share, test and practice my ideas. To me success is the right balance and quality of life but never taking anything for granted. It is investing as much as possible in my work, home, child – as possible. To my husband my success is ‘saving one person at a time’ and I love him for it.
So when people ask me why I do not get upset about the fact that others steal my ideas I explain to them that my idea of entrepreneurial success is not to see my idea bring money or fame. My ideas are shared to be developed into scalable, practical solutions that make a difference to people like me – individuals who experienced my challenges and see the benefit of my learnings. Thus ideas that are unique to me and solutions that can be found only by people like me. Not copycats who wish to make money. Not copycats who wish to claim the fame of the idea. It has been done so many times before. But original, grounded individuals who walk their path. And if you think that walking the path is mundane, romantic or not entrepreneurial enough, then you have loads to learn yet from those who shine in doing so.
This post is selfish though. It is inspired by the fact that one of my past students took my idea (something I share with pretty much everyone as my next goal), misinterpreted it and tonight I have seen her posting online about implementing it really badly. As a result it made me even more grounded in the search for answers – because the ideas that really make a difference are not solutions, they are answers – answers to the questions we, busy people don’t have time to think about, not to mention addressing them in a sustainable manner.
Free ideas are not impactful. Only the good ideas that answer questions, make a real difference and are implemented in a scalable manner are impactful.