In 2012 I met a guy who ended up being my co-founder in a business which I thought was going to take over the world, and the best bit, there was a clear segregation of duties, he was the CEO and I was the CTO. I loved that, I had my label and this was going to work, nothing was going to get in my way, I had finally arrived….
You see, for the ten years plus before that, I had been working as a contractor / consultant / delivery manager / analyst — lots of labels as defined by someone else, none of which really meant anything to me, they didn’t say anything about who I was or what I was capable of doing. When people asked me what I did, I usually resorted to “I work in tech”. But this was different, CTO really was a label worth having!
It didn’t last though, the business didn’t go anywhere for lots of different reasons, and when I finally walked away, it felt like a crushing blow. I’d worked hard and I’d made lots of sacrifices to live up to the expectation of that label, but I hadn’t been able to. That failure made me question who I was, it knocked my confidence in a way I had never figured on and worst of all, it made me question what I’d call myself now? Not entrepreneur, I’d failed!
‘I’ll give myself a new label’ I thought, I’ll get back to work in the corporate environment and I’ll call myself an intrapreneur. To me, that suggested that I wasn’t just another Joe but I was there to make a difference, I was going to change things from the inside.
A year and a half on, lots of things have changed for me. I have laid to rest my first failure, I have changed the way I feel about failure in general and not because I read the ‘Lean Startup’ again or had any kind of epiphany moment — spending time with my wife and my four year old daughter has helped me realise that failure is a state of mind and not an outcome. A year and a half on, I have my label back and this time I am just me, the entrepreneur label I’m using is so that everyone else knows what I am about.