What I learned about business from James Caan

James Caan photographed in London September 2012Do you like reading about well-known entrepreneurs? True, they are in a totally different league to most of us little business owners but it’s great to be able to tap into their experience, mindset and way of doing business.

Yesterday I came across an interview with James Caan (ex-Dragon’s Den Dragon) on the Heathrow Express website.

Incidentally, I’ve never actually been on the Heathrow Express – which is a train service that links London’s Paddington Station to Heathrow. But I’m all too familiar with the horrors of the M25 near Heathrow and hauling luggage around London on the Tube. So the Heathrow Express sounds like a great idea to me!

The first piece of good news from James Caan is that you don’t have to be a born entrepreneur to succeed in business. Experts often give the impression that you’ve either got it or you haven’t, so it’s great to read that entrepreneurship is something that can be learned.

James also suggests that taking risks and leading people are key parts of being an entrepreneur. Many women, especially those with children, are very risk averse. And while I’m not suggesting we put our families in  financial peril,  it would be helpful if we took a look at our attitudes to risk every now and then to see if we are holding ourselves back through habit or fear, rather than because it makes sense to do so.

As for leading people, most Business Plus Baby readers are solo business owners and freelancers, so you may be thinking this isn’t relevant to you. But the longer I’m in this strange world where family and business cross over, the more I realise that being a leader is a state of mind than a job description. As mothers, we’re leaders in our own families – yes, sometimes we may feel like we’re just the cooks and cleaners – but we’re the hub of the family, the one that keeps it all moving. I’d certainly call that leadership.

Being a leader means that your clients will have confidence in you and your abilities, even if you are a one-person business. That leadership mindset also makes you more likely to think bigger and hire people when you might otherwise struggle on doing all the tasks yourself.

Later in the article, James Caan highlights the importance of self-confidence. This is another area where mums struggle – in fact I wrote about my own struggles with self doubt here at BPB just a couple of weeks ago.  But James is right, if you don’t believe in yourself then you’ll have a tough job convincing other people to believe in you.

Don’t despair because self-confidence can be learned just like anything else. There are loads of techniques you can use to feel better about yourself, from simply taking enough time to rest and exercise to reflecting on things you’ve done well in the past. Don’t let your self-confidence put the brakes on your business, just working through the activities in a book or online course could make a huge difference.

Finally, James Caan says that the best way to be creative is to put yourself in the right environment and mindset. To make sure you’re in a place where your opinions are valued and trusted, ideally in a group setting. Again, this could be where us solo business owners are missing a trick. You don’t have to be alone if you’re a one-person businesses, there are tons of opportunities to find like-minded business owners online and at local networking groups. So don’t be shy, go out and find the right environment to nurture your creativity!

Which entrepreneurs do you listen to?

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