Why entrepreneur and not employee?
When I turned 30 years old, I faced a dilemma and asked myself: shall I be an entrepreneur and start my own company or shall I remain and work for the same company? Until then, I had been working for 10 years for multinational companies, in the marketing sector. At that point, right in the middle of the economic crisis in Greece, which happened to coincide with my own ‘middle age crisis’, I decided to start my own company. I initially felt that as both an independent woman and as a European citizen, I wanted more than just sell mascara to another woman. I had a vision and wanted to create something that would leave my stamp and some sort of legacy aiming at improving people’s lives. That’s the first reason why I chose to tackle the very problematic and complicated industry of health. At that point of time, I was looking for a doctor and I couldn’t find the right one for me. I realized there was a niche in the market and an industry ready for our disruption.
The second reason was that I wanted to build a company with no politics and no bias, focus on doing business rather than selling ourselves within the company. From the start, I wanted to ensure spending my time and using my ideas so as to make a real change in society, rather than trying to complete another sale, build the company’s image and with it, remain obsessed with my own image. On the contrary, with this new business, I wanted to promote some new working values and ethics in which I believe. Today, I’m happy to see that the 12 people who work for the company I set up align with those ideals as well.
To be an entrepreneur means …
Believe it or not, being an entrepreneur is quite difficult and rather challenging. In fact, and to be very honest with you, 9 days out of 10 are quite tough. But then comes the one day when your brand is recognized, and which allows you to experience a small success as you have received a very good feedback from either the patient or the doctor. That tells you’re on the good track. This is the life of an entrepreneur. But trust me: no matter how difficult it is, no matter how much mistrust you can experience from time to time, I have no regrets and would definitely never go back to my previous position or even work for another company. This is an amazing journey.
Your advice for potential young entrepreneurs ….
My piece of advice for people who would love to start their own company, who are restless and enthusiastic, and who want to do something of their lives, must start by acknowledging that to become an entrepreneur is a journey fraught with a couple of difficulties. If that already sounds like hard work for them, they should not enter the entrepreneurial world. In addition, if they are not 100% sure they will be able to withstand the difficulties, then it is probably better to think about alternative careers. This said however, they should not forget about the happiness and the feeling of achievement the entrepreneurial industry provides.
The interview was held on the occasion of the StartUp Europe Roadshow closing event, organised on the second day of UNCONVENTION 2014. For more interviews of this kind and the video summarising the interviews check HERE.
Elefhteria Zourou is Founder and General Manager of www.doctoranytime.gr, an online and telephone search and booking system for medical services.