10 business lessons from two groundbreaking entrepreneurs

Emma Sinclair and Jessica Huie are both entrepreneurs with an incredible story to tell. Emma was the youngest person ever to float a company on the London Stock Exchange, before turning her talents to the car parking industry, and now she’s in the tech industry. Jessica, meanwhile, owns her own PR company and has an entrepreneurial “offshoot” in the form of Colourblind Cards - a disruptive greeting card’s company.

Oh, and they also both have an MBE. Is there anything they can’t do?

If you're a young entrepreneur just starting out, or if you’re not sure what it might take to become a successful entrepreneur, then you're going to want to learn from these superwoman.

1. The nature of your business might change

You have an idea of what you want your business to become, but if you’re too rigid with it then you're in danger of not being able to – or not wanting to – adapt. Is it more important to have the exact business you had in your mind, or is it more important to have a business that will actually be successful? What’s definitely more important is to focus on things like sales and customer service as opposed to focussing on an exact and specific vision for your business.

What’s also important is to keep the size of your ambition. That must not change. It probably won't, because that’s why you're an entrepreneur in the first place.

2. You will have doubts

Emma admitted to having days where she wonders what on earth she’s doing. She might wonder to herself, or wonder quietly, but she still wonders. Because - if we’re being honest - there are no guarantees, and that’s why entrepreneurs have to be able to at least tolerate uncertainty. If you can learn to embrace it, or to love it, even better.

3. The worst that can happen isn't that bad

If the worst that can happen is that you totally fail, get a bruised ego, and maybe have to go and get another job for a while, is that really that bad? And won't it help make your success story a better one anyway?

4. We all have different skill sets, but…

...if you're going to be an entrepreneur then you have to learn how to sell. As founder of your company, yes, you’re the CEO, but you're also the sales team (and everything else). If you don’t know how to sell then you won't have a company for very long, and probably don’t even have one in the first place.

5. You don’t need to compromise yourself

Jessica says she realised she could’ve made a lot of money very quickly with her PR firm – if she’d chosen to compromise her values. But she didn’t want to do that. Who does? We can all justify it to ourselves when we compromise our values, but does it ever turn out to be a good decision?

Jessica only represented clients that she truly believed in, that aligned with her values, and that’s why she could do such a great job – because when she promoted the client, she didn’t have to fake it. She could speak passionately about them and their product and mean it. Make sure you're doing things you're comfortable sacrificing your time for.

6. You can be competitive and kind

You can still want to excel in everything you do, and make sure you excel in everything you do, but it doesn’t have to come at the cost of behaving badly. You can still treat people with respect – how you’d like to be treated.

7. All businesses should be about quality

If your business is about quality – meaning that you have a great product that makes lives easier – then why would you have a hard time selling that? Why would you have a hard time wanting to sell that? You know you have a quality product that makes lives easier. If you’re not ok with selling a product like that, then maybe you're not an entrepreneur.

8. You can’t build an empire if you're not healthy

Building an empire is hard enough – how are you supposed to do it if you’re not healthy, or if you’re ill, or if you’re sleep-deprived? Well, you won't be able to. And if you are able to, it’s not sustainable. How long can you live like that? Forever?

It’s kind of ironic that if you want to be an entrepreneur, if you're trying to build an empire, this stuff – being healthy and getting enough sleep – should be much more important to you compared to someone else. Because you need to be at your best as often as possible to do what you're trying to do, and to even come close to succeeding.

9) Treat people well

I know. Shocking! Who’da thought?

This doesn’t need an explanation for why you should do it, but let’s not deny that there are also some practicalities to this. For example, you’ll meet people at all different stages of your career. And, as you accomplish more in your career, so will some of these other people. As you rise, they rise. And you never know who someone is going to become. If you treated them well whenever you met them, or even the one time you met them, when you weren’t even trying to get anything from them, do you think they’ll remember that fondly? Do you think they’d want to help you if you asked?

10) Say no

Saying no is harder than ever because there are more opportunities than ever - that’s why it’s being talked about more now than ever. It’s more important than ever to be able to say no, but most of us can’t (or won't) do it.

Saying no is on you - you have to decide what's important and what isn't. You have to decide what will move your business forward and what won't. You have to decide what kind of life you do want and what kind you don’t want.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to say no to everything that isn't being an entrepreneur. Netflix? Say no to it. Spending every single weekend with your friends? Say no to it. A great opportunity to work for someone else? Say no to it.

Sounds hard, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because it is. Just like being an entrepreneur.

What else you can hear on the podcast:

  • How to understand what the “hook” for your business is
  • "Rookie" mistakes that these superwomen made
  • The most fulfilling part of being an entrepreneur

Listen to more VOOM Podcasts

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. 

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