I often wonder if I’d done a business degree, or a course, or even just a class, it would’ve been easier to become an entrepreneur BUT I did English. I did Acting. Nothing I’ve learned in formal education has prepared me for the endless business plans, forecasting and financial spreadsheets that I have waded through to date, or the white-knuckle roller-coaster ride of uncertainty.
The more inspirational business podcasts I hoover up (Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale and The Tim Ferriss Show are my go-to’s) the more I realise that business is also an art. Some qualities are innate, but others can be learnt to get you where you need to go…
Here are my top five (in no particular order):
- Risk-Taking Ability
- Creative Thinking
I have a mercurial relationship with four out of five of the above. Occasionally I have it, often I don’t. There is only one that I emphatically know that I do have. Persistence.
I was 20 and working in the holidays from Edinburgh University as an assistant at Heyday Films, the Harry Potter production company. Tanya Seghatchian, the Head of Development, called me tenacious. If I had an idea, I followed through. If I wanted something, I went after it.
After I’d worked as a freelance journalist at The Telegraph for 3 years, I set up a production company, VisionAir Films, making destination films for airlines’ inflight entertainment. Telegraph colleagues were surprised that my first 5 films made it onto the screens of British Airways: “People always say they’re going to do something, but you actually do it,” they said.
Once VisionAir had gained traction, I needed sponsors to grow the company and library of content. I saw Ed Vaizey MP (the then Minister of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries) on a South Kensington tube station platform. I tapped him on the shoulder and pitched my business. Two weeks later I had a meeting with the director of the Great Campaign, Conrad Bird. It was at 10 Downing Street, and I left with a huge (to me, anyway) financial pledge. My husband retold that story at our wedding.
Persistence is the one characteristic that has shoved me over the starting line, hitched me up over many, many hurdles and propelled me towards some imagined finish line. At the start of Leapfrog, I had zero experience in the world of health supplements, but I did have a determination to bring this extraordinary natural active – lactoferrin – to the British public.
All I knew – literally – was that lactoferrin really worked. Lactoferrin already exists within us as our immune system’s first line of defence, and Leapfrog could supplement those brilliant mechanisms of the body. So once again, I dusted off that determination and learnt from the ground up how to bring Leapfrog to market.
I Couldn't Have Done It Alone
I haven’t (read: couldn’t have) done it alone. The immunologist, pharmacist, nutritionist, formulation experts and my business mentor have been my confidantes, cheerleaders, sounding boards and blue-sky thinkers. And the many kind people who’ve held this concept in their hands for a time, and given their advice, have helped Leapfrog to launch.
We sold out in six weeks, but we’re still in the education phase about this extraordinary natural active, lactoferrin. The greatest challenge is getting the word out there – so, thank you for taking the leap and joining that journey.