MarkdThe road to entrepreneurship

Are you a reluctant entrepreneur? Here’s my story.

By January 10, 2019 July 31st, 2020 No Comments
Girl with super powers conveying Are you a reluctant entrepreneur?

My ordinary marketing life

If you asked me 5 years ago, that’s I’d be an entrepreneur and start up my own branding and marketing company, I would have thought you were crazy.

I have been old-school-loyal in my career, changing companies only because someone proposed marriage and they happened to live in another country. It was certainly not for reasons of boredom or needing a change of scene.  

My experience had always been working for others, mainly multinationals. The scope of roles, brands, and markets was broad enough to keep me interested for life. Or so I thought.

So 5 years ago, I was deeply embedded in corporate strategy and marketing, setting my sites on a Chef Marketing Officer role in Australia or in whatever market would have me (but preferably not Uzbekistan)!

But I could sense things were changing.

The call to adventure

As a marketer, I had always been absolute on being consumer-centric. The term has evolved to become customer experience today but it really means the same thing. It is the most important perspective you can ever have as a business. Without a desire to delight consumers and customers, there is very little reason for being.

But the very thing that had been an advantage to our multinational company for literally hundreds of years was now the biggest hindrance to consumer-centricity and customer experience. Scale.

Scale was creating unnecessary hierarchy in our organisation. It was making us too slow vs. our competitors. It was causing us to lose sight of our purpose. Scale was making us risk-averse and preventing us from being entrepreneurial enough in embracing the power of data and digital technology.

This was having an impact on our culture and not in a good way.

I am sure this is not unique to many established companies, whether they are local or multimarket.

Personally, I knew I didn’t fit anymore. I had become a roundish peg in a square hole. I wanted to be out there doing consumer-relevant things, not trying to justify my position in what now felt like my corporate ivory tower.

Leaving my corporate safety-net

And so I left in a cloud of mixed emotions. One moment feeling a child-like liberation. The next experiencing a loss of identity. I was free…but then to do what? It was the lack of an answer that was the most baffling of all.

I did have a book and a marathon on my bucket list. So, I did those.

But I knew I needed to disrupt myself even more.

Instead of finding another job in corporate, I  joined a young tech company. The full story is the content of another book.

Embarking on an entrepreneurial journey

Without realising it at the time, I was embarking on a hero’s journey.

As a Gen Xer working with millennials in a pure tech space, I felt I’d crossed the threshold of my ordinary life into an unknown world. With their no-rules attitude, side hustles, matrix-like code, and Adidas shoes, I could have been working with aliens from another planet.

The battle I had to overcome was fear.

Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.

But I learned a great deal. On the other side of my fear of change, I discovered many things. 

Returning with the Elixir

My elixir is that I LOVE brand marketing. I want to create and build brands always. People are brands too, often sharing the same platforms as invented brands. They also need help in the face of disruption, as I did.

I discovered a new appreciation for digital technology and how to work with millennials because they know more about it than the average person. And of course, the importance of purpose in everything we do as brand builders.

I became an entrepreneur without ever thinking I could be one.

Markd is a culmination of classical marketing skills with new tools of engagement in a culture of collaborative working. I am sure it is the future of many organisations.

Mostly, we want to help personal and company brands make their meaningful mark on the world. That’s our purpose.

Our journey has helped us accumulate many ways to help refocus people and organisations on purpose so they can thrive in a more dynamic world. We also help reluctant entrepreneurs.

If you are any of the above, talk to us.

…and thank you for reading!

Sibon Schouten

Sibon Schouten

CEO and Founder of Markd

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