The twenty-first century entrepreneur

Changing business circumstances are a fact of life. Technology has moved the goalposts, made routine tasks a lot easier and delivered a revolution in the way we communicate with clients, customers, partners and just about everyone we come into contact with.

Expectations have changed about when and where we are contactable, along with the speed at which we are asked to make important decisions. Managing technology and the way we interface with our workplace are now vital cornerstones to working smarter, not harder.

What is Success?

The start of the twenty-first century has brought unrivalled opportunities with the ability to reach global audiences at the click of a button, but anyone who seeks to measure success solely in financial terms may need to think again.

A new breed of entrepreneur has emerged with a very different agenda. Success needs to be assessed in relation to range of lifestyle factors including working in a personal way and establishing a healthy balance between our career and the rest of our lives. It is this natural working equilibrium, the core of work-life balance that many strive for in an attempt to have a rewarding work experience.

When I left the world of big business in my mid-thirties, I was looking to work in way that reflected my personality and with people who thought in a similar manner. It was about recognising innovation and originality because these would be essential in establishing any successful business.

Customers and clients are able to access riches of information and I wanted to focus on providing service, delivery and quality of concept. I could only achieve this by starting my own company, making my own rules and freeing myself of the corporate shackles.

Time for Change

I interviewed many highly successful businessmen and businesswomen during the research for my latest book, “Get a Dog – Don’t Work Like One”. A key finding was the link between personal achievement and a sustainable working balance. Many expressed their wish to form better workplace relationships and reward others purely on the basis of results.

Starting a business from scratch has never been easier but, in many ways, it’s never been more problematic to do it in a way that reflects our individual needs.

Comfort Zone

Einstein was right when he famously said, “We can’t create change with the same level of thinking that created the problem”. This new workplace requires us to throw out many of our existing pre-conceptions and outdated knowledge to make room for new stimulus and original solutions. This is about challenging ourselves to step into the unknown, acquire new skills and get out of our comfort zone.

I was having a drink with a good work colleague recently, someone who I had known for more than twenty years. He had progressed a long way up the corporate ladder but felt increasingly as though he was treading water and achieving little of real significance. I advised him to get his work-life relationship back in balance, to help him make those difficult decisions and identify his real priorities.

It’s a great irony that the more ‘so-called’ success we get, often the greater workload and time pressure arrives as well, leading us towards areas we don’t actually want to be.

Room to Think

In our increasingly busy lives, there seems little time to think about whether we are going in the right direction or working in a way that is actually fulfilling. Finding room allows us to experience new things and get ahead of the curve. It’s never easy to let go but the benefits can be tremendous as we find time to make real connections and use our experience in the most productive manner. By getting rid of 10% of our daily workload, we can be 20% or 30% more effective, energetic and resourceful.

Portfolio Career

Not everyone can walk into the boss’s office tomorrow and hand over a carefully crafted resignation letter: no matter how tempting it is at times. There are ways, however, to open previously closed doors by taking a portfolio approach to our career. This is about starting new ventures, ideas or projects that could lead to a secondary income stream.

Many natural entrepreneurs are good at keeping plates spinning and are often able to interconnect concepts to add value in a number of ways. This exercise will also give us some valuable hands-on experience while we still have a primary salary. In the not too distant future, many of us may be looking to establish 3 or 4 separate sources of income to be able to lead the life we want and achieve the level of success we crave.

Change of Mindset

Thinking like an entrepreneur is not just for the next generation of baby Branson’s. It is for all of us. If we sit back for very long or are in a place that doesn’t push us forward, our reservoir of transferable skills will soon start to diminish.

When I first came into business, I was jealous of those people who seemed to know others who could help and always appeared able to find a way out of tough situations. As I got more experienced, I realised this wasn’t down to luck: those people placed greater value on their key business relationships and were always encouraging others to come up with an innovative solution. They were magnets for problem solving and new concepts.

If we are to be truly successful in this twenty-first century commercial world, we need to do it on our own terms. Communicating how we want to work and what we are striving to achieve will also stimulate a surprisingly large number of people around us. This type of emotional attachment to what we are doing will provide great job satisfaction and self-esteem, whilst offering a guiding light to others.

Good luck on your journey and you can read more about work-life balance and how to think like an entrepreneur at

About the Author
Jim Banting is the author of “Get a Dog – Don’t Work Like One”. He is an entrepreneur who is involved in a number of businesses ranging from internet start-up’s, graphic design, publishing, property and digital media. He was previously a director of the European Operation of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and also worked for The Virgin Group and Philips Media. He had blue-chip business training and remains a highly innovative and energetic businessman.

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