The honest truths about entrepreneurshipMay 11, 2023
Find Your Superpower newsletter 013
Read time: 4 minutes
Topics covered: Business, entrepreneurship, founder, leadership
“I very rarely have to set my alarm clock to wake up these days!”
That is what Marc Nicholson, founder of members’ club 1880, told me in episode 5 of the Science of Work podcast, where we discuss the complex life of an entrepreneur.
In this podcast episode, Marc discusses the many different reasons that someone may choose to start a business, as well as the trade-offs involved. He introduces the four key stakeholders that every entrepreneur must work with—employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders—and how to better appreciate each group.
Throughout the conversation, Marc shares stories from his own entrepreneurial journey, providing valuable insights into the lessons he has learnt along the way and the mindset required to lead an F&B and hospitality business.
Are entrepreneurs born or made, I ask?
“It is a bit of both,” Marc said.
“I think necessity is the mother of all invention. Some people will find themselves in situations where they need to provide for their family or their children. In fact, I think we are all probably born entrepreneurs, and we learn to de-risk our lives by getting safe jobs. I think it is actually very innate to all human beings.”
I posit that because recessions and layoffs are historically linked to a spike in entrepreneurship, we would expect to see many more entrepreneurs being created in the upcoming months and years.
“I think COVID taught us that,” Marc agreed. “If someone could do the analysis on it, there would be millions of entrepreneurs that were born through the advent of COVID, who are trying to provide for their families and themselves.”
Tough times call for tough measures... and entrepreneurship.
An entrepreneur’s raison d'être
At the heart of it, an entrepreneur is someone who has identified a problem and is approaching that with a solution–a great product or service, Marc explains.
In his case, he and his team built a private members’ club in Singapore to bring the most interesting and creative people together, with a strong focus on women. I happen to be one of their members!
“Most clubs that you see in the world, the ones that were built 100-150 years ago, were built by men for men–gentlemen’s clubs–and they begrudgingly let women in in the 1920s or in the 1960s,” he noted.
“Those structures are powerful, they are strong. The golf weekend thing is a very strong networking thing. If you are a male banker or lawyer and you arrive in Singapore, all you have to do is to walk into the rugby club or the squash club or the tennis club, get into that circle of people, and let them know that you are looking for a job, and these guys will help you out, and the next thing you know is you will be getting 4-5 calls, and you’ll have a job within a week.”
“But if you are a young woman, and you try to do the same thing, there are not enough structures, social structures, that women can join, where they can instantly network. We deliberately set out to have 1880 as a space that provided that club environment for women,” he said.
I completely agree with Marc that you have to network to find the best opportunities–to unlock the hidden job market–and that women have insufficient social structures and opportunities to discover this hidden job market.
Thankfully, 1880 exists to make that space available to us.
You’ll never dread Monday again
I think the feeling is unanimous here, that entrepreneurs are so internally motivated that we don’t need any reason to get into work.
“When I was employed in the past, Monday was the worst day of the week for me,” I confessed. “In fact, Sunday was the worst, as I had a feeling of dread that Monday was coming up. But as an entrepreneur, I find that completely reversed, on Sunday I am wishing that Monday would come sooner,” I said.
The freedom and the idea that you are in charge of your own destiny, are also equally intoxicating to entrepreneurs. “I never want someone to tell me what to do or what I have to do. I value my own freedom and I want to be in charge of my own destiny,” Marc said.
“You’re painting your own story, and that is a beautiful thing. You’ve taken a blank canvas and made something out of it. And it is hard to put the paintbrush down and it is hard to walk away from it. But it has to happen. Entrepreneurs do dry out. They burn out,” Marc said, alluding to the next chapter of our discussion... the dark side of entrepreneurship.
Being responsible for “literally every single thing”
“It is no secret that it is very hard for entrepreneurs to switch off. I go on holiday and I’m sitting at the beach and doing this one thing,” Marc shared. It is a 24-7 lifestyle and certainly not for everyone.
“It is not unfathomable to think of a time when you curled up in a fetal ball under your desk and said, nobody is allowed to come in here. It is just a lot, a lot of pressure. You learn how to get out of that, but every now and then, you’ll have a little breakdown,” Marc says.
I asked Marc if he ever feels “lonely... or alone”?
“If you ask me to list the downsides, my number one downside would be the loneliness for anybody. You have to anticipate that,” he said, adding that it is beneficial to have a co-founder when you start a business.
“The loneliness thing is a function of you being the one who is ultimately responsible for every decision. And you can take advice and you can speak to a lot of people, but at the end of the day you have to make that call, whatever that call is. And you have to live with the consequence of that.”
Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out on your founder journey, this episode is a must-listen. Join us as we take an entrepreneurship 101 course from this industry veteran.
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