As I told in in the previous feature on the Beauty of Entrepreneurship international conference held in Bucharest on November 9, some inspirational international and national speakers met in Romania this Wednesday to share their vision on a successful business based on their own story and experience. As the organizers from the National Association of Entrepreneurship informed, the event was a success: it was the first international conference in Romania dedicated to entrepreneurs and to all ambitious, bold people, with leadership abilities, while enjoying a numerous audience.
Karin Tenelius: Leading in a totally different way
Among the invited speakers there was Karin Tenelius, speaker, inventor, author from Sweden, who talked about her life experience and how she ended up providing management expertize for companies and starting up her own business, Tuff Leadership Training, in order to deliver training in the skills needed to succeed for managers who wanted to lead in a more co-worker involving way.
Karin recounted that although she came from a very traditional and academic family from Stockholm, she was not attracted to the academic environment so much and she dropped out college to embark on a real adventure, on a life on her own. “I realized I am not such an academic person, I am more like a doer and I learn by doing,” she said, adding that she left for an around-the-world trip for one year after she had some temporary jobs to earn money.
She arrived in Australia, worked in a factory and a pizzeria to earn some more money. However, she ended up being a business coacher, where she discovered that she was really interested in marketing and subsequently graduated a marketing course at an evening school.
“I learnt three things. First, I read a lot of books of service management and all were saying that if you want a good quality service the source of that is giving authority to the people giving service to and engaging them.
The second thing I’ve learnt was that you can do whatever you want, you don’t have to follow patterns, you can find you own way and this concept was completely new to me.
Third thing that happened now being a marketing director in a large corporation I developed an allergy to the disempowering managers. I still suffer from this allergy. At that point I stopped working for the corporate and somehow I started my own business. I was self-employed, coach, leadership trainer and educator. I have really like my freedom in the past eight years,” Karin pointed out.
She also talked about her experience enforcing the concept of giving more authority to the staff to a small business, a hotel. “I coached the hotel staff and the CEO and we’ve got astonishing results, both in people and their achievements as a team and in financial figures.”
Karin embarked on a new journey of coaching small companies in various fields on the verge of bankruptcy. “I learnt so much about leading in a totally different way, not staying in the way of the staff, but being there to support the employees rather than to manage them.”
When she started her own companiy, things got encouraging but also very frustrating at a certain point. And Karin decided again to make something different. “I’ve got this idea: well, wouldn’t I buy the companies with a top down management and transform them and take away all the management?,” she revealed, also admitting that she actually had no money for this project, but she found out people who liked her ideas and invested in them and helped her buy two or three small companies. “I didn’t know until I was 43 or something that I was a true entrepreneur. I love building companies, building on these empowerment ideas together with the others. For instance, when I had small children, I started a company for nannies because I needed a nanny.”
Karin also said that entrepreneurs aren’t usually talking about their setbacks because they forget about them and they go on.
“I was once going to hear a famous entrepreneur, Niklas Zennström, founder of Skype, and before he took the floor he said he would also speak about his failures, but I was very disappointed that he talked about his failures for about 30 seconds and then it was all about successes. What is important to know is that all business owners have had setbacks. I had my share related to lack of money, tax authority, employing the wrong people, customers leaving, people cheating. So, one thing you need to develop when being an entrepreneur is you have to admit that plans never happen as they should, never, ever. Everything takes much, much longer than you’d expect, it causes a lot of frustrations, but you also develop a lot in the process,” the Swedish speaker disclosed.
What are her giveaways?
- Find your own drive. It could be money, it could be freedom, being skilled, an expert on something, it could be passion, like a hobby, it could be inventing new things, it could be social ideas that could contribute to society, it could be just fun in building things.
- Shape a business that matches your drive. A business is like a structure, a system where your passion can live.
- You don’t need to face risks all the time, you don’t always need money. I know at least Swedish lady who actually borrowed money from the person selling the company to her. She bought an old factory manufacturing old-fashioned lamps and she made it a success, after teaming up with a cool designer.
- Organize things for having fun.
- Start your company with the people you like.
- A brilliant way to use your time is to create your own business out of your passion.
The Romania Journal was among the media partners of the conference.
Stay tuned for more entrepreneurship insights and more personal business experiences shared during the event.