I don’t have a degree in business.This fact must have slipped the minds of friends, family and acquaintances who, since I started working at Impact Invest, started saying:
“Maybe I should start a business?”
“What do you think of this idea…”
“I should do that…I should just quit my job and start a business”You get the gist.

 

As a Bulgarian – and I am one of 8 million who calls themselves that – I don’t usually shy away from giving advice. In fact, we pride ourselves on our ability to form an opinion on any given topic in a short space of time. But — shocker — I’ve refrained from advising anyone who’s not part of the programs I help run, on anything.

How could I? After working with early-stage entrepreneurs, I can see how difficult it is to say who will be successful at a certain point in time and with a specific idea.

So, when last week I started interviewing entrepreneurs (part of a Vinnova-funded program Care of Business Impact) who have gotten their business ideas off the ground and running I was attuned to spotting the similarities in their journeys.

These are some of them.

 

Seeing opportunities and gaps. That’s something that many of us do, often…and then we move on. In the case of the entrepreneurs I spoke to, the gaps they saw were not necessarily gaping holes – but just big enough for a new person/ company to come in and fill it.

Preparation/ being strategic. Not everyone can afford to quit a job and start a business and maybe it’s not a good idea to begin with (there, I said it) and none of the entrepreneurs I spoke to did. Some entrepreneurs started laying the groundwork for their change in direction (from employment in one area to running a business, sometimes in a different area), years before their current business was founded.

They partnered up. With the exception of one person who had been in the same industry for 20 years, everyone else who had a new idea, found someone, sometimes more than 1 person, to partner up with. That someone added a key skill or set of skills to complement the founder.

Being open. The “fluffiest” in this list, being open for these entrepreneurs meant being prepared to change views when presented with new information and adapting accordingly (maybe that’s what being open means in general but it’s common – but many think it even necessary to have a strong, unyielding vision of what your product/ service should be/ do). These entrepreneurs tweaked and keep tweaking their original idea.

Vision and impact. They wanted to create a positive societal and/ or environmental impact and had a specific group of people – at least to begin with – they wanted to impact positively; they took a very specific environmental challenge and came up with a solution/ product.

 

These similarities are pre-starting-a-company in a way. What did these entrepreneurs do later on? I hope to find out very soon and update you.

Petya Thorne

Petya Thorne

Petya Thorne is the Communications Manager at Impact Invest Scandinavia - a network for impact investors. Her work takes her on editorial journies through the lives of others.