16th September 2014


If you tell people that you're an entrepreneur and have your own business, the reaction is usually along the lines of, 'lucky you', 'must be great to be your own boss', or 'I'd love to do that some day'.  And most of the time you nod and agree that,yes there are great advantages to running your own show, trying to develop a business from a germ of an idea into something tangible and valuable.  

Except you don't tell them of the stresses and worries; of cashflow, projections and targets that must be met; of the constant treadmill to keep pushing on; of the relentless drive that's needed just to keep pace with the competition.  And then there's the '4.30am wake-up'.  If you're a parent to a new-born baby you can probably sympathise.  Likewise if you run your own business.  For it's the middle of the night internal wake-up call that your body receives when you're tossing and turning; finally the sleep runs out and the thoughts take over jolting you awake at a time when everyone else is in the deepest of slumbers.

 "the fretting as an entrepreneur never truly leaves you"
Over the summer I was at business networking event in Croke Park at which John Teeling was giving a talk.  John Teeling, in case you didn't know, is the classic serial entrepreneur, a man who has set up and developed numerous companies before selling them on for substantial profits. He has been involved in the oil, gas, and resource sectors for over thirty years and is the founder and chairman of Connemara Mining, Petrel Resources, Minco, African Gold, Persian Gold, West African Diamonds and Botswana Diamonds all listed on the London Stock Exchange. He is also the founder and a former director of Kenmare Resources and a former director of Arcon.  In addition, as founder and chairman of Cooley Distillery, he oversaw its sale to Jim Beam in 2011 for over €70 million.  You'd wonder how he could fit so much in a day!

But something struck me as he told his story and it was the mentioning of the '4.30am wake-up'.  Here was a businessman who had made millions in his lifetime, was a master at setting up and running companies and yet he still spoke of the worries and fears.  I knew then it wasn't something that ever left you.  I believe you're born an entrepreneur.  Something awakens inside you that decides, 'no thanks to the stable 9-5 and a normal life; no, I'd rather be a bit different and have huge stresses and worries to, instead, try and make it on my own'.  The people around you stand in steadfast support of your oddness but secretly, inside, they must be wishing for some sense of normalcy at some point.

Except, as John Teeling explained, the fretting as an entrepreneur never truly leaves you.  You're in it for the long haul, for better or worse.  And in truth despite the ups and downs, you know that somehow, somewhere, you're going to come out at the end proud of what you have achieved.  So, the next time I wake up worrying in the middle of the night, I just have to tell myself, as some many other successful entrepreneurs have done before me, that the darkest hour is just before the dawn.  Trying to back asleep might be difficult but I'll wait instead for the bright sunrise to come.