These 3 Words Sum Up The True Meaning of Entrepreneurship

These 3 Words Sum Up The True Meaning of Entrepreneurship

I am an entrepreneur, and some might say my life has been unusual. Maybe even weird. I call it unconventional.

I came from humble beginnings – my mother was an Overseas Filipino Worker, who was part of the first ‘export’ of domestic workers who travelled to the UK from remote villages in the Philippines to work as a maid.

My father, the London-born son of European immigrants, was a factory worker and mechanic.

I grew up in wealthy households where my parents worked as live-in domestic staff for a range of rich families, from British aristocrats to African royalty and self-made millionaires.

I have always been captivated by the idea of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship means so much more to me than starting up and growing a business. defines an entrepreneur as: a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

Here are the lessons that my unconventional life has taught me about being an entrepreneur.

boldness or readiness in undertaking; adventurous spirit; ingenuity

A source of fascination for me as a young child of around nine years old, was my parents’ boss: a Nigerian Chief – a tailor’s son – who built a multimillion-dollar empire, which all started with importing buttons from Italy to Nigeria.

A serial entrepreneur, he dominated the manufacturing industry in Lagos – a true opportunist who ventured into everything from ballpoint pens and cooler boxes to plastic shoes and fine china.

As a child, I would follow him around his huge mansion while my mum cleaned and polished furniture. I would hide behind doorways and plant pots as he shouted into the phone, doing deals and barking orders. He was a formidable character who didn’t take no for an answer. “Money is no object”, I would hear him say, almost on a daily basis.

In my early teens, during the recession that hit Europe in the late ’80s, my parents – perhaps inspired by the indomitable Chief – decided to cash in their life-savings to pursue the ‘good life’. We moved back to my mum’s hometown in the Philippines to start a small farm business.

With no knowledge or experience in farming, or even running a business, they embraced the opportunity with a spirit of adventure.

“You want something, go get it. Period.”
~The Pursuit of Happiness

exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance

When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, volcanic ash destroyed our business. Many homes and local villages were literally wiped out as they were buried in the mudflows that poured down from the mountain.

I saw people digging out their homes that were buried in mud. Then the mud would come down again and they would dig them out once more. They never gave up, because giving up simply wasn’t an option. Times of despair show the human spirit at its finest and at its worst. And I learned that the greatest freedom in life comes when you cannot fail. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention.

I gained respect for those that dare to take risks in life. From the local farmers and traders, to those who leave their hometowns and travel abroad to seek employment, to the Zuckerbergs who go on to change the world.

I learned that entrepreneurship isn’t glamorous or trendy; it isn’t about impressive websites or fancy business plans. It’s about being ready and willing to take a risk for what you believe in.

To be an entrepreneur is to let go of the fear of failure. And, for many, it’s a means for survival.

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

an introductory act or step; leading action

For many years I had watched the Nigerian Chief – his obsessive and sometimes half-crazed behaviour, his ruthlessness and determination, and his relentless pursuit of success.

I watched my parents on their entrepreneurial journey – the excitement as they embarked on the unknown; their desperate exhaustion as they struggled to build the business; the constant worry and uncertainty; and the exhilaration of being free from the chains of domestic work.

I learned that entrepreneurs have one thing in common that sets them apart from everyone else: they get started.

While others sit and plan, dream and discuss, entrepreneurs are already out there doing. Half the time they have no idea how they are going to achieve their goals; they often don’t have a clear direction or access to the resources they need. But they get started anyway.

Entrepreneurship means so much more to me than starting up and growing a business. It represents something ultimately inclusive.

My mum – who was just a maid – was an entrepreneur, a risk taker and a trailblazer. Because of her enterprising spirit and courage to pursue her dreams, she paved the way for me and for many after me.

“The few who do are the envy of the many who only watch.”
~Jim Rohn

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Gina Romero

Gina Romero is a community builder who harnesses technology to drive the success of women entrepreneurs. Working with corporate partners, local organisations and government agencies, Gina creates initiatives that strengthen the regional startup and SME ecosystem. She is the Founder of Connected Women.

Read Gina's recent interview on 'How One Woman Is Bringing Opportunity To More Women In Southeast Asia'.

Edited by: Amber Valencia, Image credit: Gina Romero

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