To succeed as an entrepreneur you need to harness a little bit of crazy – or hire it in!
“Entrepreneurs are all a little crazy. There is a fine line between an entrepreneur and a crazy person.”
These are the first words Dame Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop wrote in her 2000 autobiography, Business as Unusual.
“Crazy people see and feel things that others don’t. An entrepreneur’s dream is often a kind of madness, and it is almost as isolating. What differentiates the entrepreneur from the crazy person is that the former gets other people to believe in his vision.”
Roddick would know. Within 10 years of the first shop opening in Brighton in 1976, The Body Shop had become an international sensation in the beauty industry. Before it, body care wasn’t even a market segment.
Roddick was a trailblazer, using business as a force for good and the pioneer of CEO activism. Shop windows donned campaigns for animal rights and social justice, from a joint Save the Whales campaign with Greenpeace, to promoting Community Fair Trade and anti-waste packaging long before they were even things.
But more than that, Roddick was a sound and savvy businessperson, knowing when to rein in the crazy and when to let it loose – and it paid off. In 2017, the company was sold for a whopping £884 million. And this is all from someone who never went to business school.
Entrepreneurs are actually a strange breed.
Those that knew Roddick said she fired on all cylinders and got up people’s noses. In business, these traits can go two ways. With a likeable, charismatic personality it’s easy to get away with them – and this is what propels you forward into success.
Business founders with an entrepreneurial spirit tend to have common traits: the need to lead, the nature of running towards challenges instead of away from them, and the ability to bounce back, all of which are backed up by an enduring dose of self-belief.
Start-ups begin from a place of passion for an idea. This is when you’ll find you’ve got lashings of playful energy, when you can dare to dream and say, ‘What if?’
While some entrepreneurs hold the endgame in sight, others simply enjoy the journey and see what each day brings.
Indulging in your start-up energy you find yourself making decisions left, right and centre, with ideas coming from all angles. This boundless enthusiasm can be really infectious.
When the need to make your business profitable kicks in, sometimes you might find yourself losing the creative edge that helps your investors, team and customers buy into your vision.
So then, for a start-up to truly thrive, there often needs to be an injection of crazy, alongside the serious action, of course.
Hire in your crazy!
You might be reading this and rolling your eyes – and that’s okay. Not all business leaders have what would be considered visionary or transformational leadership.
Some entrepreneurs prefer to focus on the numbers and performance, adopting a more transactional or autocratic leadership, which works just as well.
However, to help with your success, you might want to hire in the crazy to help you – because it does serve a key purpose.
Roddick put it perfectly herself: “What every entrepreneurial company needs is crazy people reshaping strategies, coming up with ideas, constantly experimenting. For an entrepreneur to maintain a sense of entrepreneurship, there should be half a dozen pockets of small-scale experimentation going on all the time.”
Build an atmosphere that promotes openness and trust so that everyone is able to contribute, even if it is to challenge your own beliefs and the status quo. Who knows, that one crazy employee who never shuts up could be the key to your success!
How do you balance the fine line between crazy and entrepreneur? Let us know in the Founders Hub Community!