Way back in 2003, I started my business, a little web software agency for those not already aware. To help kick things off, I had support from the Prince’s Trust, attended many networking events and sought discussion from family, friends and anyone else I could remotely consider a business advisor. All of these interactions provided a regular hit of motivation and enthusiasm generating new ideas and avenues to investigate. There was a warm, fuzzy feeling that came from discussing all things business, what might be and helping each other work through problems and aspiring to fulfil our potential.

However, before I knew it things started kicking off, with every step in the right direction came more things on the to-do list, more emails that needed tending to, more meetings and more actual work that needed doing. So the motivational business interactions slide, stepping aside for more important stuff. This is no bad thing of course, after all, I was by no means under the impression running a business was easy and being busy is better than being bored when you’re fending for yourself.

What I hadn’t realised though, is how the aforementioned important stuff had over time, taken its toll on my passion and enthusiasm for what I do. No business-related networking, no seeking advice, no overly ambitious discussion with like-minded individuals and no top-ups of enthusiasm. I hadn’t realised it but running a business had become my job. I never wanted a job, I wanted to run a business.

Fortunately, a series of seemingly unrelated events have recently opened my eyes to the above realisation and at the same time addressing it:

  • I attended a local digital innovation event where there were some excellent inspiring speakers and I got to catch up with some old faces from my early days in business.
  • I had a brief chat with Josh Russell whilst I was at Flash On The Beach who was on the cusp of launching his then unannounced startup BonfireIM. He didn’t let on what they were up to but his excitement was bursting out of him, he was desperate to talk about what he was working on but obviously couldn’t share too many details and his level of enthusiasm was both intriguing and contagious.
  • I recently attended an investment workshop organised by Nick Jenkins (founder of Moonpig) for the Prince’s Trust, I’ll share more on this in an upcoming post but it was a really fascinating day where attendees had the opportunity to soak up some great advice from angel investors.
  • This weekend I attended the European Software Conference after a recommendation from new found friend and advisor Dave Collins who was presenting. I had reservations about the event mainly derived from the website but it turned out to be truly excellent and I intend to be back next year. What ESWC lacks in website finesse it more than makes up for in community spirit and knowledge sharing. Again I’ll provide more details in a future post.

So, all these disconnected events have led me to discovering a new pet interest that is resurging my almost forgotten passion for business: the world of startups. I say new interest but really it’s simply the rediscovery of the excitement and adventure of running a business. The term “startup” is a somewhat shiny new coat for what is essentially the same thing that interested me back at the dawn of my own company. There are some new players, new approaches and new tools and toys. But don’t be deceived, the “startup” part is really just another label as far as I’m concerned. So far, I haven’t read a single bit of “startup” advice that can’t be applied to any business of any age and any size.

Here’s a few links that are worth checking out if you want to re-energise your own enthusiasm that I’ve been enjoying lately: