I have discovered entrepreneurs can be a little crazy. They have out of the box ideas, a high appetite for risk and a zany approach to success.
While undertaking research for my book on the Legacy of Anita Roddick (a self confessed 'crazy person') I have dived deep into trying to understand what made her so successful. While Anita was a truly unique human and businessperson she shared many attributes with some of the worlds great leaders.
Anita was passionate about her vision and unreasonable in her pursuit of it. She said:
“We entrepreneurs are loners, vagabonds, troublemakers. Success is simply a matter of finding and surrounding ourselves with those open-minded and clever souls who can take our insanity and put it to good use.”
Anita started The Body Shop without the end in mind - her original ambition was to open a shop so she could earn money to look after her kids (while her husband was off on an adventure). Just like Richard Branson who said:
"when we began Virgin, I didn't see it as an end in itself, a noun; I saw it as the beginning of a whole range of services, an adjective,"
With her drive for continual improvement and lust for new experiences she 'almost accidentally' created one of the world’s most successful retail businesses. Her aspirational ‘profits with principles’ mantra resulted in an incredible corporate culture people were loyal to. Good leaders know the way to get 25 hours out of 24 is to have people stand with you for an idea that at the time seems unattainable. Like JFK when he set the USA on the mission to the moon:
“…I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth... (and) We choose to... do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.’
She was determined to create a business unlike any other creating a new paradigm in business.
Gary Hamel, the author of Leading the Revolution, said of Anita.
"She is absolutely an outsider. I mean if you listen to her, she is filled with vitriol around the traditional practices of the cosmetics industry. I have always believed that industries don't get reinvented by profits, but they get reinvented by heretics. People who can see the dogma, see the orthodoxy and then ask why turn those things upside down."
But Anita, like the late Steve Jobs, also suffered from 'hurry sickness' which gave her the courage to take risks and the resilience to deal with mistakes.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Anita too encouraged a culture of bravery.
“Be courageous. It’s one of the only places left uncrowded.”
And while she was on a mission to change the world and become enraged at social injustices and environmental vandalism she never took herself too seriously. She had a wicked sense of humour and the ability to calm any situation with love and kindness.
“My passionate belief is that business can be fun, it can be conducted with love and a powerful force for good.”
I see some of Anita's traits in many of the successful women I am privileged to work with and it gives me hope for the future of business and it's role in shaping a world we want to live and work in.
“Three components make an entrepreneur: the person, the idea and the resources to make it happen.”
If you are a business person who needs help with your idea or extra resources to make your business happen - get in touch.
As a business coach it falls to me to be the one to challenge your business assumptions. I ask the hard questions, push the boundaries. I get to point out the obvious and drill down into the not-so-obvious challenges with your business.
If you are a start-up and I cannot talk you out of your business (I will try!) - you must be ready for the challenge of business. You need a thick skin and a narrow focus in business. You need to be resilient and brave.
If you have been running a business for a while with limited success and you've reached out for help - you are half way to a solution. You can't do it all alone.
Do you think you're a little crazy too?