Before I started my first business ten years ago with my husband Chris, I didn’t think of myself as an entrepreneur.
My business is an on-farm diversification that was borne out of necessity as, being tenants on a small family farm, we were finding it harder and harder to live on the income that farming offered us. At the time I was on a career break from working as a counsellor/therapist. The agency I worked for closed down when I’d just had my daughter, so I was taking some time out.
When we first looked at entering the food and drink industry in Scotland, by producing cold pressed rapeseed oil on our farm, it seemed exciting but daunting. When we decided to give it a go, I took on all the sales and marketing side of bringing our new product to market. I had no experience of this, and no training in sales or marketing. I thought of myself as a housewife just helping out with a family business that was intended to be a small side-line to bring in some extra income. Any customers we got felt like luck, and finding potential distributers or buyers felt like it was just something I could do because I was a relatively friendly, chatty person. I did not think of myself as an entrepreneur.
The spark of entrepreneurial spirit
I was persuaded by a friend, who had been on the programme, to apply to join a business accelerator that was then called Entrepreneurial Spark. To be honest, I thought it was just office space, and some help with building the business. I had no idea what I had got myself into!
Hand on heart, I can say that my experience on the business accelerator programme turned into a pivotal time in our business, but also for me personally. I completely absorbed all the training around mindsets and behaviours. I engaged with other new businesses who were on a similar journey. I started to recognise the entrepreneurial spirit that was within me, and take myself more seriously as a business person, but also to take the opportunity that we had with Supernature Oils more seriously.
I realised that we could do a lot more with Supernature Oils than we had initially thought, and that I was capable of achieving the vision of what our business could be. I recognised that I was already more of an entrepreneur than I’d thought of myself as, even before we started the business.
“It wasn’t until I had co-created Supernature Oils into a thriving, multi award-wining business, supplying: Michelin starred restaurants, Harrods, and exporting overseas, that I really believed that I might be an entrepreneur at heart!”
Recognising it within yourself
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to be just someone who has started business after business, and taken big risks, and made (and sometimes lost) lots of money – as it is often portrayed as in popular media.
Being an entrepreneur can be much more about:
- having a drive to create something new in your working life.
- being open to learning more about yourself in order to feel more confident in your business.
- being open to learning about your industry or market segment, in order to grow your business.
- nurturing entrepreneurial qualities within in yourself, such as: curiosity, persistence, a positive outlook, a pro-active attitude, creativity, or determination.
I really believe that most, if not all, of us have the capacity to become an entrepreneur. I think it grows out of embracing any shred of it within us, and being open to nurturing it, and learning what we need to in order to change and grow – as a person and in our chosen work arena.
“If you are asking yourself the question ‘Am I an Entrepreneur’, you probably already are one!”
Lynn Mann is the Co-founder of Supernature Oils
Find information on business incubators and accelerators in Scotland here