What type of entrepreneur should I be?

On October 29, 2012 by Hannah

When I first moved to Denmark a year ago, I was ready to start a business. What business? I didn’t have a clue. But after 5 years having the life sucked out of me in the corporate world, surely all I needed was a bit of time to rediscover my “passions” right?

Or so I thought. It was much harder to focus on one specific idea. I saw tons of opportunities across several different product categories – design, travel, academia – but nothing set me alight. For a while, I believed I was incapable of feeling that deep connection with anything that “real entrepreneurs” so often talk about.

One day I attended a workshop as part of CPH Start-ups, run by the executive coach Stacy Townsend, and heard about the theory of BE-DO-HAVE (probably not the technical name, sorry Stacy). She described how most entrepreneurs focus on what they want to HAVE (a successful company, the respect of the start-up community) and then try to align their actions (what they actually DO) with these objectives. Who they actually become (BE) is not designed consciously, but is merely an outcome of the actions they take and results they strive for. This all sounded perfectly logical to me, until I worked out she was illustrating how not to do it!


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Actually, she explained, the most sensible place to start is with the BE – in other words, defining who you want to become. And by BE, she wasn’t referring to your job title or the content area of your start-up… She was talking about foundational stuff, like values, beliefs and vision; the things that should be driving everything else. Once you have this straight it is much easier to know what you should be doing – today, tomorrow, with your life in general – and what outcomes or results will bring you most fulfillment

Following the session (and after a lot of reflection), I tried to adopt this framework myself, including while trying to establish what the content area of my business should be. I soon realised I didn’t need to be passionate about a particular product, service or function within my business. It sounds so clichéd, but I just needed to focus on being me. The rest would more or less take care of itself – I would be naturally be drawn to opportunities that excited me, to people who inspired me and to projects that spoke to my strongest values.

So, six months on, I have my company Scale Angel. My first partnership is with Besos, the scarf boutique, and I love it. It’s not like I woke up one day and realised I was that I was in love with scarves. Rather, it became clear to me that I am passionate about the challenge, creativity and fun of building a business. I’m contributing to building my partner’s dream and I’m proud of how authentically I’ve driven its growth.


Focusing on what I wanted to be, and building my business around the opportunities that were presented by doing this, has worked for me (so far). Do you think I’m talking complete nonsense or have you had a similar experience…? Spill your thoughts in the comments below.



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2 Responses to “What type of entrepreneur should I be?”

  • Dear Hannah first welcome to We Unite!

    I must say I feel you SO much on this one. I’ve tried so many times to understand what I want to do and how I get there. I realized after I spent a long time on define my inspiration (http://www.martineseedorff.dk/index.php?page=inspiration) my work is easier done. I still don’t know exactly were I’m going but I know why I create the way I do. I think it’s important to be able to answer the question “why create this way?” both for your client and especial yourself.

  • Hi Martine! Thanks for the comment and sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I definitely agree that it is a “journey”, although that sounds like a massive cliché. Have you read any of Ken Robinson’s books or watch his videos (for example: http://www.ted.com/speakers/sir_ken_robinson.html). I have found his way at looking at this issue really helpful. Good luck with it all :) Hannah

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