Most entrepreneurs would argue that business is an adventure. But what does the word “adventure” really mean for our beloved high-fliers?
For Bristol-based business leader, Mel Bound, adventure is, “a feeling, an instinct”. “It’s a ‘what if?’,” she says, “Something that’s been in my soul since I was a kid climbing the biggest trees, ‘running away from home’ aged four and giving up a dream job aged 25 to travel the world for two years solo.”
Bound’s business, This Mum Runs, started by accident with a “come for a run with me” post on Facebook one rainy night in November 2014. Says Bound, “When 75 women turned up I had a lightbulb moment and went for it. I set out to turn the fitness industry on its head and reach the unreachable. To build a global brand and empower millions of women worldwide to be healthier. I did this after being made redundant and with two kids under five.”
Bound, who says she still does the school run every day, has grown the movement to 16,000 runners in two years and now also does coaching in 27 locations, runs courses and programmes designed to get more women into sport and has launched a growing retail brand
Adventure, says Bound, “is about doing the things that others think are crazy, carrying on when everyone else would give up, embracing that feeling of being uncomfortable and scared and thrilled in equal measure.”
Darren Sassienie, star of Dragon’s Den and co-founder of Sassy Bloom, which delivers monthly care packages to new parents and their babies, defines the idea of adventure as, “exploring new territory, having fun, learning, putting yourself outside of your comfort zone and having fun.”
One of the things that sets him apart, says Sassienie, “is that my glass is always full and I'm not afraid to take calculated risks”.
Any entrepreneur will tell you that feeling fear and doing it anyway is a huge factor. In fact, a 2008 University of Cambridge study suggests that risky decision-making is essential to entrepreneurialism.
“Running a business feels like navigating through a thrilling obstacle course,” thinks Dr Sheri Jacobson, retired senior psychotherapist and founder and clinical director at Harley Therapy, “there is the goal of getting to somewhere desirable but not knowing the path that will take you there.” It’s helpful, says Dr Jacobson, to keep to some guidelines, such as OODA (observe, orient, decide and act) with a “have fun!” tagged on the end.
“You need a constant eye on the terrain,” says Dr Jacobson, “I stay in close contact with customers, watching and adapting to their evolving needs. I constantly scan for who else is in the domain (competitors, potential hires), gauging the impact of the political and economic climate, and other threats and opportunities. I monitor who is contributing positively to the mission and who is likely to stall it.”
“This is pointing myself and the team in the right direction,” says Dr Jacobson. “Sometimes this can be done in the moment of an adversity, other times it takes longer to point to a new direction. For me this has entailed turning from property rental to building software.”
Decide and act
Dr Jacobson says her training as a psychotherapist fostered useful skills such as extended analysis and depth of consideration. “But it proved unhelpful when running a business. I was deliberating decisions for extended periods of time. This held the team back whilst we examined everything under a microscope and led to slow growth. Today, ‘move swiftly and act fast’ is increasingly part of our culture.”
Most entrepreneurs will tell you that business is fun. Says Dr Jacobson, “I wouldn't still be in business after 10 years if I didn't love the work. The fact that I have so much fun and get a real kick out of learning the ropes, I think contributes to resilience to power through the journey.”