2022 Time For The Founder In You?

Last week, I had a catch up with the inspirational Laura Harnett - experienced corporate executive and angel investor and now founder of Seep, a sustainable household product company. More on Laura’s story later.

Our conversation sparked a thought… is there a founder in all of us? 

Are we all founders-in-waiting?

Waiting for the spark to our fire… to kickstart our passion to drive us forward… to create something new and unique?

Laura’s story is an inspiration for those considering the leap. I hope there is some inspiration here and some ideas to help along the way.

The Accidental Entrepreneur?

I met Laura about 4 years ago. We have both been members of Angel Academe for some time, investing in female-founded businesses.

Back then, Laura had just exited a super successful corporate career which culminated in being CMO of Selfridges. The corporate ladder wasn’t an easy one, with many twists and turns along the way.

After leaving Selfridges, Laura became a consultant and angel investor. 

Like many of us in the angel world, Laura had great admiration for the founders, but never saw herself taking the CEO/Founder seat. It’s almost as if, by choosing the corporate world, you consider yourself outside of the typical mould of a founder or entrepreneur.

Well, that’s certainly how I have seen it.

Founders are like mythical creatures. Unwavering passion. Endless energy. Relentless focus on the goal.

After a long corporate career (and for me after a couple of kids too) the energy levels and optimism of founders seems like becoming a founder is a path for another life.

But that’s just mindset.

In our conversation, Laura asked me - ‘How about you? I could see you as a founder.’ 

My immediate response was the bias to a ‘nah’. I hadn’t chosen that path, so now in my 40’s, is that possible?

Discover a Passion

The reality is, for us ‘founders-in-waiting’, we just haven’t discovered the focus yet.

Laura talked about how she had never seen herself as a founder. Let alone have an idea for a company. 

And then, one day - it just came to her. 

Uninspired by the unsustainable choices on supermarket shelves and the constant reminder about climate change and the world we are leaving to our children, Laura wanted to make a change.

Using her background and knowledge of the retail industry, Laura quickly established a niche for a few key products which would get Seep started on its road.

2 years in, and a pandemic under her belt, Laura has a significant customer base and is just about to raise her first big round of funding to accelerate plans for growth.

Something unimaginable 4 years ago…

Building Experience For THAT Moment

Whilst we may not consider ourselves to be ready to be a founder, every founder will say, they never felt ready.

Passion gives every founder the courage to make the leap, but it’s important to recognise that’s just part of the journey.

The beginning of the journey is your career to date, with whatever experience you have gained along the way to this point.

Then in preparation for the leap - the mentors we collect, the knowledge we seek to acquire and the plans we make will help ensure our chances of success are increased.

Laura attests to the great experience gained up to the leap - and also the great connections made…

Everyone Needs Their Network

I recently listened to Squiggly Careers on Blinkist - and there was a great quote…

 

‘People think networks are like cobwebs. They are wrong.

Networks are like gardens they need to be cared for and watered.’

 

Talking with Laura about the courage to leap and the success experienced since - one thing is for sure - Laura is a huge fan of the network she has worked on and cultivated.

An investment no one regrets.

The corporate connections will help your future business - but also for Laura the consultant background for structure, the angel investors for advice and guidance, the friends and family have supported the journey.

Laura’s use of the network is the inspiration for this article.

We can all benefit from the reminder that well invested networks always help our careers - maybe not always straight away, but in the long run, whichever path we take - founder or not - our networks will be a big part of our success.

2022: Find Your Passion

Wherever your journey takes you in 2022, I took a couple of lessons from Laura’s story.

First is, never say never. Sometimes a moment of inspiration will come and something we thought was impossible, becomes a reality.

Secondly, pay attention to the garden. We all need our network in good shape. Now and in the future. 

Make the time to cultivate those connections in 2022. 

It’s time well spent.

 

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