How to Stay Inspired: Tips and Ideas to Maintain a Positive, Productive Mindset

Thursday, June 16, 2016 - 19:00
 How to Stay Inspired: Tips and Ideas to Maintain a Positive, Productive Mindset

Since 2011, Britain has seen a cultural shift in its economy, with the number of startups exploding from 440,600 to a record-breaking 581,173 in 20141. This was then beaten in 2015 with 608,1002 startups being recorded. With the concerning statistic that around 90% of all startups fail, being bandied about the ether, staying productive as an entrepreneur or business-owner is vital to ensure longevity and success.

So what changes can you make to your outlook in order to stay focused? The first is probably the hardest: changing your perception of your capabilities. The American industrialist, Henry Ford, once said that ‘whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right’; however you perceive your ability becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ford was no stranger to hard work and aspiration: born in 1863 on a farm in Michigan, he worked his way up through the Edison Illuminating Company, eventually meeting Thomas Edison in 1896, who encouraged his experimentation in mechanics. Seven years later, the Ford Motor Company was established, and by 2013 it was the fifth largest automaker in the world.3 Call it dedication and work ethic, call it luck or fate, but Ford’s focus (if you’ll pardon the pun) at the Edison Company led to his introduction to the eponymous inventor, which led to investment and backing, and, ultimately, his own company’s global success.

The common worry for the job seeker is job security, but it is a myth that working with a start-up is riskier than working for a big corporate machine. Large organisations can spend a great deal of time looking to cut the fat from the business and the larger the firm the less likely those making the decisions will know their staff personally, making hiring and firing a lot easier.

By comparison, within a start-up there is a real opportunity for rapid advancement. As the start-up grows the team grows with it. We’ve gone from just two people to employing 40 in two years and we are still recruiting. This opens up an abundance of manager, team leader and supervisor roles available for those individuals with the capabilities and desire to progress.

Money is always tight and you’ll be expected to treat every pound as your own, doing more with less. But that’s when individual ingenuity and good ideas can come to life. There’s a freedom and a responsibility, which the ambitious will thrive upon.

Yes, the trappings of corporate life are well and truly thrown out the window. There can be less respect for personal time than traditional businesses and there may be an expectation to work into the evening for that important product launch, check emails from home and get a phone call on the weekend if the server falls over.

It can also be chaotic, and you need to like change – your desk can change; your job role can change; your manager can change; the entire vision of the company can change (or as techies like to say ‘Pivot’). Roll up your sleeves and dive right in.

I can’t speak for all start-ups but if you compare Intelligent Point of Sale to typical businesses, you’ll find that we have office dogs, a very relaxed environment, flexi time, casual dress codes, office beers and pizza, a free soft drinks fridge, and much, much less focus on hierarchy.

Our first office was in the corner of a 1970’s business centre and it was a while before we had the budget or room for a ping-pong table. Now, though, we have bespoke-designed offices and every one of our employees has the opportunity to input their ideas and affect real change.

Most start-ups have a compelling story to tell and the appeal is not simply remuneration, although share options can be a draw. Start-ups offer a different culture and are truly the home for job seekers wanting to make a difference. All businesses were start-ups once, and with the support that is available most start-ups today have solid business models – and, in my opinion, are worth the chance.

Katharine Coulton