About Jan Cavelle
Jan Cavelle is an entrepreneur from the UK who has a few decades of running micro and small businesses behind her. She is very familiar with all the challenges that go with that, having started one from the kitchen table as a single mother with two young children, and overcome the obstacles to go on to build that into a multi-million turnover business.
She has always been passionate to encourage and support other entrepreneurs and has been involved in many campaigns with a view to that. She was chosen as one of the first 50 women to represent the UK in the European Union on entrepreneurship.
She now does this through her writing. Scale for Success was published by Bloomsbury in 2021 and Start for Success came out in January 2023, aimed at helping aspiring and growing entrepreneurs everywhere.
Lesson 1: Being laughed at – or the fear of it – should never stop you 05:18
Lesson 2: It is OK not to be the best – because, actually, that is impossible 09:42
Lesson 3: Orders are good, right? 12:07
Lesson 4: Values are far more important than they seem 15:38
Lesson 5: Value is more important than turnover and learning how to sell a business is vital 18:13
Lesson 6: Systems may be boring, but they are a game-changer 22:53
Lesson 7: Investment isn’t only for other people 27:16
Lesson 8: “Don’t quit” is a load of baloney 30:36
Lesson 9: The word entrepreneur isn’t a synonym for superman 34:23
Lesson 10: Never lose your thirst for learning 39:22
Jan Cavelle – Never lose your thirst for learning
[00:00:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello and welcome to our program, 10 Lessons Learned, where we talk to business people, journalists, authors, professors, ambassadors, leaders, and luminaries from all over the world.
[00:00:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: My name is Siebe Van Der Zee, and I’m your host. I’m originally from the Netherlands, happily residing in the Grand Canyon state of Arizona in the United States.
[00:00:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m also known as the Dutchman in the desert.
[00:00:33] Siebe Van Der Zee: Our guest today is Jan Covell from the City of Hastings in England. Jan is a successful businesswoman. Entrepreneur, author, public speaker from the United Kingdom with extensive experience running micro and small businesses. She started her own company from scratch as a single mother with two young children, as you can imagine.
[00:00:54] Siebe Van Der Zee: She had to overcome multiple obstacles to go on and to create a highly successful business. Jan has always been very passionate to encourage and support other entrepreneurs. She was chosen as one of the first 50 women to represent the United Kingdom in the European Union on entrepreneurship. More recently, Jan also became an author.
[00:01:19] Siebe Van Der Zee: Her first book was published by Bloomsbury in 2021 and her second book Start Four Success came out in January of 2023. Her books are aimed at helping to aspire and grow entrepreneurs and scale up companies. Jan once said, I passionately believe that a healthy economy relies on nurturing and encouraging our startups and scale ups.
[00:01:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: Now more than ever, we need both. You can learn more about Jan Cavell on our website. 10 lessons learned.com.
[00:01:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello, Jan. Thank you for joining us
[00:01:57] Jan Cavelle: Siebe. Thank you. That was a wonderful introduction.
[00:02:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, happy to facilitate that, but I’m curious, tell us a little bit more about your decades long desire to help startups and scale up.
[00:02:10] Siebe Van Der Zee: where is that coming from?
[00:02:12] Jan Cavelle: Well, I think, I mean I got involved, I have to say originally by chance. And that was the European campaign that you mentioned. and you know, it was one of those, I knew somebody who knew somebody, and it put me forward for a campaign very kindly, and it was fascinating.
[00:02:28] Jan Cavelle: Completely different to all the other ones I got involved in. But of course, we were working with groups of women from all the other European countries. And so we went to the European Parliament and all sorts of things, but we got a chance to compare what was going on in other countries, which I think made it very unique.
[00:02:46] Jan Cavelle: and at home, of course, we were tasked with getting businesses up and running and making people more aware of entrepreneurship because it wasn’t fully. Burst by the tv, by them. You know, it was just a word that a lot of people didn’t know what it meant or how it related to them. And so that in itself was hugely rewarding and other campaigns spun out from there.
[00:03:14] Jan Cavelle: And you know, when you sort of speak to somebody and you get to know them and a small business bursts from that contact, it’s pretty amazing. And you can see that that’s a mushroom, you know, it is all the economy is all about.
[00:03:29] Siebe Van Der Zee: Now teaching entrepreneurs is not necessarily easy because they typically have an independent mindset.
[00:03:37] Siebe Van Der Zee: Is there a magic? Is there anything that you apply because again, they’re independent and they don’t wanna work for someone else.
[00:03:45] Jan Cavelle: You’re so right. I’m thinking of myself. I’m an, anybody who tried to teach me must have been a brave person until I at least matured slightly. but I think you’re right.
[00:03:55] Jan Cavelle: I think it’s very difficult. I think entrepreneurs tend to, in general, respect other entrepreneurs more than people outside that world. There’s a certain cliqueiness and a feeling that you understand, whereas nobody else in the world does.
[00:04:14] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. So your own credibility helps you in teaching others to go through this process.
[00:04:19] Jan Cavelle: Yeah.
[00:04:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: Makes sense. Before we get into the 10 lessons, Jan, I have to ask you a question. Is there a lesson that you have learned in your life, in your career that you would like to teach yourself? If you would be, let’s say, 30 years old today?
[00:04:38] Jan Cavelle: I think, you know, really. What has bugged me all through my career, on and off, is taking on people’s negative voices and.
[00:04:50] Jan Cavelle: I even, I still fight it today, but I’m aware of it at least, which I wasn’t. Then I would internalize everything that was said about me, around me or what I thought was said Half the time, you make it up, I think, but so, so yeah. I’d probably tell my 30 year old self to stop it, and be much more aware.
[00:05:09] Jan Cavelle: Learned that lesson a lot sooner.
[00:05:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: I like that. and I think that’s a good lesson for anyone at any age, right? be yourself.
[00:05:16] Jan Cavelle: Yeah.
[00:05:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Be yourself.
[00:05:17] Jan Cavelle: Yeah.
[00:05:18] Lesson 1: Being laughed at (or the fear of it) should never stop you.
[00:05:18] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, let’s take a look at your 10 lessons. And I had, of course, already a chance to go through them. They’re fascinating. lesson number one, being laughed at or the fear of it should never stop you.
[00:05:30] Jan Cavelle: Absolutely. I mean, I think failure, particularly the fear of being ridiculed and laughed at in any way is what stops a lot of people, even when it comes to starting businesses. But, you know, this, that came from originally for me. I mean, I had trouble through childhood because of course kids love sporty kids, and if you are not sporty for any reason, you tend to be a bit of an outsider anyway.
[00:05:54] Jan Cavelle: I was ill almost constantly as a child and they couldn’t find what was wrong with me. So I dragged on and my parents, in their dubious wisdom, dealt with that by sending me to, not one, but two very sporty boarding schools, which couldn’t have been much worse actually for, it’s a choice for a child. The first one,specialized in riding horses.
[00:06:16] Jan Cavelle: The report went quickly back to my parents. I remember it well, simply saying, Jan has yet to learn the difference between stop and go. So that was clearly a success. And then I went to another one. Where I felt equally excluded and all the girls were very sporty and had a lacrosse field. And,
[00:06:38] Jan Cavelle: And marginally speaking, swimming was my best sport, but I mean, that still meant I was in the bottom five of class or whatever, but the day came and some swimming match. All the other good kids were away at home, off sick, whatever. So I actually got hauled in to compete in a competition against another school, and it was backstroke, which was never my forte anyway, so, you know, but I thought I’d have a go.
[00:07:10] Jan Cavelle: And maybe I can do this and maybe I can be like all the others. So off I set and I will never know whether I heard the truth or whether I heard invented voices, if you like. But some halfway through the race, I was convinced that what I could hear was everybody laughing and I thought, oh, you know, this is just typical.
[00:07:35] Jan Cavelle: Everybody else must have finished, cuz of course on your back you can’t see. you know, at all, and you have no idea what everybody else’s doing.
[00:07:44] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah.
[00:07:44] Jan Cavelle: And, you know, so I just rolled over and swam to the edge and I thought, you know, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna do this. You know, I clearly made an idiot of myself, and I can’t stay in here all afternoon.
[00:07:55] Jan Cavelle: And of course, I looked around and, yeah, I mean, I was somewhere in the middle, possibly a bit near but back, but I could have been perfectly respectable. But that was for negative somewhere. I mean, some poor kid might have laughed. Nothing to do with me, but I was convinced it was me.
[00:08:13] Siebe Van Der Zee: it, it sounds horrible, right?
[00:08:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: For especially young people to be left at. And it is something that we understand is happening all over the world and it can happen easily, for different, reasons, but to develop that inner strength, to be able to overcome that. Because again, it’s, you know, we are, let’s say grownups we’re mature.
[00:08:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: We have gone through these things, but for young people, that can be a major challenge. and then to be able to develop that inner strength, I think it’s extremely important.
[00:08:46] Jan Cavelle: Well, I mean, it took me a long while to, I never competed. In fact I don’t think I was asked to compete again in a team game at school because I really wasn’t good enough.
[00:08:57] Jan Cavelle: But I did decide to tick on with sports and tucked away. I mean, by that time it was probably a couple of years later, tucked away on holiday, away from anybody I knew. I took up water skiing. Which again, I was still really bad at and it took me, I remember my parents were despairing cause they of course had to pay for the lessons and it took me 10 lessons to even stand up and another 10 till I made it round a circuit without falling over.
[00:09:30] Jan Cavelle: But yeah, you’re right. Somehow something stubborn came out, and I thought, I am going to do this somehow, even if I’m never very good, but I will do it. And I loved it. I loved it for years and years.
[00:09:42] Lesson 2: It is ok not to be the best – because, actually, that is impossible
[00:09:42] Siebe Van Der Zee: I think it also links well to lesson number two. It’s okay not to be the best because actually that is impossible.
[00:09:51] Jan Cavelle: Yeah. And I think, you know, lots of us are brought up to be very high achievers and we’re told to do really well. Yeah. And do you know, we confused that saying do your best with, to be the best. I think, and, you know, I certainly did. I, you know, I desperately wanted to be the best to do well for everybody to
[00:10:15] Jan Cavelle: applaud me, like me, I’m not quite sure which, or my parents or generally all those things that gets us going and wants us to be special and win. and you know, I think
[00:10:28] Jan Cavelle: one of the troubles that set in was with art because for one thing I was really good at school, well, according to the teachers, it was art. And by this time I’m talking. Maybe sort of 14 years old, 13, 14. And my parents were summoned and I was told I should be, you know, apply early to go to one of the London art schools.
[00:10:56] Jan Cavelle: And you know, this was something really special and I won county prizes and oh yeah, I’m going to be the best, but it’s great. and so they put me into the sort of 15, 16 year old exams O levels that they were in those days over here, and I failed. I failed at art totally, and I was stunned, and I was angry.
[00:11:22] Jan Cavelle: I was angry with the people who took the exams. I was angry with the teachers. Then another teacher came in a different one and told me I was no good as well, and so I just wouldn’t go to the lessons anymore. And I still, to this day, I’ve never got back to it. which is silly actually. I might enjoy it now, but I just haven’t had time, I think.
[00:11:44] Jan Cavelle: But I always, I just didn’t want to know. I was so angry and so hurt by it. yeah. Unlike waterskiing, I did not take up an equivalent at all, because there was no point in doing it unless I was going to be a star. Which is awful, really awful. What a waste. But why couldn’t they have left me alone to just enjoy the art, which I did, you know, said it.
[00:12:07] Lesson 3: Orders are good, right?
[00:12:07] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, what a great lesson learned. truly. Yeah. Right. Because, if I look at lesson number three, orders are good, right? Uhhuh, it sounds like in business you are focused on making money.
[00:12:22] Jan Cavelle: Yeah, I mean, I’ve, I had the proverbial entrepreneur problem of not liking working for other people. So my forays into employment work were extremely brief, which nearly always means when you are like that you end up doing sales jobs for a very short time.
[00:12:41] Jan Cavelle: yeah, so I got used to doing high percentage telephone sales work, and. I suppose I got a fair bit of experience of it, but when I came to start a business when my children were young and my choices were very limited as to what I could do, cause I didn’t want to leave the children. So I wanted to work from home, so that meant phone work, selling something on the phone.
[00:13:07] Jan Cavelle: Okay. I’d had some experience on that and that all came, you know, from that sort of grittiness and be mindedness. sales experience all good. You know, it enabled me to get a business off the ground by keeping going. But it came as a massive shock much, much later on. Cuz I grew the business from absolutely nothing, from a kitchen to, well I say the kitchen table was actually a shelf, literally under the stairs, not a very glamorous office, but I grew that to two factories.
[00:13:43] Jan Cavelle: So we’re talking about a fairly substantial amount of sales. which sounds fantastic and sounds mega successful, but of course, in business for a lesson, I eventually learned though I couldn’t always stop myself going for it, was you can’t just go on selling, you know, because if you can’t supply the goods, the customers don’t want you very much.
[00:14:06] Jan Cavelle: And yeah, you can do what I was constantly doing, which is replacing the unhappy customers with new ones. But it’s a very expensive way to go about it. the people who work for you are always very unhappy and overstretched. And so, yeah, you know, I learned very much the hard way as we grew without systems, without all sorts of things that I should have been focusing on as an owner.
[00:14:31] Jan Cavelle: But sales we had, you know, massive quantities, but it’s a mistake, but I’m not the only salesperson who I’ve spoken to, you know, cuz I, I’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs for my writing and interestingly, I have met one or two who, who come from a sales background and have fallen into this same, trap.
[00:14:54] Jan Cavelle: We are so focused on the deal.
[00:14:56] Siebe Van Der Zee: Sure. Sure. and, I think it’s a very valuable point indeed, because you need sales to do business but if you don’t take care of what you need to do in order to do the business Right, then sales may plummet, basically, because you cannot deliver.
[00:15:14] Jan Cavelle: Absolutely.
[00:15:15] Jan Cavelle: Yeah, absolutely. and the impact on your team is horrendous, you know, because you’re constantly failing, constantly overworked. but you know, I find it really hard not to do it, but mostly I did keep doing it. Let’s be honest. It was a fairly constant mistake.
[00:15:31] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, there is that desire to sell and I think that’s inside you.
[00:15:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: and so that makes sense as well.
[00:15:38] Lesson 4: Values are far more important than they seem.
[00:15:38] Siebe Van Der Zee: But, lesson number four, values are far more important than they seem. I think that’s somewhat connected to lesson number three, right? It’s not just sales.
[00:15:48] Jan Cavelle: Well, it certainly connected to learning in business. Cause as a, you know, there I was growing this thing from a kitchen table up and.
[00:15:58] Jan Cavelle: I was ignorant as anything Siebe, but honestly I was so green at a business of what, you know, but it’s just no way of describing how ignorant I was. So, there are values I had to probably look up in a book. You know, what are people talking about? Values. Oh, right, okay. We should have some of those.
[00:16:16] Jan Cavelle: So when we were still quite small, I sort of got together with my team, said, you know, what do you think about values? What do I think about this? You know, I said I think, you know, we ought to have a lot of fun here because we’re here most of the time and you know, we spend huge months of our lives at work.
[00:16:37] Jan Cavelle: And so I think that’s really important and that’s a real feature. And I think we had some others which you know about, reliability or, you know, some slightly more serious stuff, but fun was really a high priority and we had about five and they underpinned the business really well. And we had fun, we had loads of fun and it was lovely.
[00:16:59] Jan Cavelle: And we grew successfully and the culture was great. And later on, of course, as we grew, you start getting lots of experts come in and say, you know, oh, well, you know, I can help and I can tell you how to grow your business. And what we should have said is, stop selling. But anyway, you know, I can advise you to do all this better.
[00:17:20] Jan Cavelle: And one of the things I constantly got advised about was values. Because of course a lot of people who write values for other companies, you know, see it as a PR exercise. What the company ought to look like. And so the word fun hit the wall And that was a disaster because as soon as that happened, we stopped having fun.
[00:17:46] Jan Cavelle: Yeah. And the culture changed. So yeah, my lesson is don’t ever let anybody else set those values for you. They’ve gotta come from your heart, you know, yours and your main people, and there’s something you’re gonna live by. It’s no use going around saying, you know, we’re excellent because the clients want it.
[00:18:06] Jan Cavelle: You know, if it doesn’t get you up and enjoying life and then trying to do well, it’s pointless.
[00:18:13] Lesson 5: values are more important than turnover.
[00:18:13] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, makes sense. and if I think of your lesson number five, values are more important than turnover. And learning how to sell a business is vital. It’s, yeah, it’s sort of the next step, right? It’s one thing to have values and appreciate that, but ultimately, and I’ll let you of course explain that, selling your business, learning how to sell your business is critically important as well.
[00:18:38] Jan Cavelle: It is. I mean, again, this comes down to my extreme ignorance when I started and while the amount of information I accumulated from not least making every mistake in the book, as I went along was huge. One of the things I never tackled was the idea of selling a business.
[00:18:56] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah.
[00:18:57] Jan Cavelle: You know, it was, I’m way above my head.
[00:19:01] Jan Cavelle: You know, I thought serious big business people, you know, who run huge consortiums and things by and sell businesses, not sort of small businesses, and it never occurred to me. I would want to. Absolutely not. Firstly, my kids got involved with the business, so particularly my son. So I was thinking this is something that will go on forever and I loved it anyway.
[00:19:24] Jan Cavelle: So I’d sit there and say, you know, you have to drag me out of here, or one day you’ll come in and find me sitting in that chair over there and you know, that’ll be it. It never thought of selling it until, of course I did. You know, because life changes. And my son by absolutely mutual agreement left for business, to make his own way.
[00:19:45] Jan Cavelle: and. That was a big turning point for me.
[00:19:48] Siebe Van Der Zee: I was gonna say that must have been a big turning point.
[00:19:51] Jan Cavelle: It was, yeah. I mean, in theory it was supposed to be a slightly more gradual one.
[00:19:55] Jan Cavelle: And so that was the end of that idea and that, that, you know, was big because it changed the face of the business.
[00:20:04] Jan Cavelle: It changed direction for me. You know, all of a sudden I was doing empty nest syndrome and all of that. and what being a family business no longer was and my whole.
[00:20:15] Jan Cavelle: reason for doing it. I’m trying to think of the word, not inspiration. motivation is what I’m after. my whole motivation for doing it, which was all about the family, all about the kids and our future all gone, you know, so it was difficult to feel any interest and so, For a while, I started to go on courses and learn more, and it suddenly occurred to me that I could build it up and so that, but it was very late in the day, not the right time to, to think about it.
[00:20:48] Jan Cavelle: I should have done it from the start.
[00:20:51] Siebe Van Der Zee: I think it’s very powerful what you’re saying because obviously this was a. A personal, a family situation. Perhaps if you look back, you could say it was not unexpected, right? That children decide to go a different direction than the parents hope for or expect, but it also taught you that lesson as far as looking at your own business and say, well, it’s one thing to enjoy having my business, but I really need to focus on the opportunity perhaps.
[00:21:18] Siebe Van Der Zee: And in your case, what’s the reality to make the company ready for sale?
[00:21:25] Jan Cavelle: Yeah, definitely. And you know, for all I kept on telling myself that I should make it ready for sale for sort of my old age. And, you know, because it was a good thing to do, to realize maximum value and all those sensible things, it’s terribly hard to get excited about being sensible, being passionate about something is a whole different ball game.
[00:21:49] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, I like it. I understand what you’re saying very much. and it’s something that I think all entrepreneurs of course have to be aware of and learn those lessons, and hopefully not, you know, because that’s painful when it comes down to your own family and decisions that were made by your
[00:22:03] Siebe Van Der Zee: Your child, your son, et cetera. So important lesson,
[00:22:07] Affiliate Break
[00:22:07] Siebe Van Der Zee: We’re talking today here with Jan Cavelle, an experienced serial entrepreneur and a successful author and speaker from the United Kingdom with a focus on helping to aspire and grow other entrepreneurs, sharing her 10 lessons learned.
[00:22:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: I want to thank our affiliate partner, audible.
[00:22:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Audible is an amazing way to experience our program. 10 Lessons Learned, but also books and other podcasts, allowing you to build a library of knowledge all in one place. You can start your free 30 day trial by going to audible trial.com/ten. Lessons Learned. Again, that’s audible trial.com. 10 lessons learned, all lowercase, to get your free 30 day subscription.
[00:22:53] Lesson 6: Systems may be boring, but they are a game changer.
[00:22:53] Siebe Van Der Zee: We move on to lesson number six. Systems may be boring, but they are a game changer. I have some thoughts and some questions, but please go ahead.
[00:23:03] Jan Cavelle: Well, I think that’s a lot to do with the fact that, that combination of the expectation of always being there, my kids being involved, and us growing far too fast because of sales.
[00:23:15] Jan Cavelle: you know, sort of all those fatal flaws if you like. Didn’t make me think, oh, systems matter because we were all too involved.
[00:23:24] Jan Cavelle: It was almost a very early startup mentality and then scratching your head and wondering why it didn’t work for 50 people. you know, and of course it doesn’t. You know, it’s something that, that transition from a tiny startup where everybody knows everything, everybody gets involved, and you can all buckle down and work till 10 at night or whatever’s necessary.
[00:23:49] Jan Cavelle: It just all has gone by the time you get to 50 for the sake of argument, it’s gone before then. So, you know, you’ve got to somehow introduce a different approach that is more controlled, you know, this is,you’re quite right. You’ll have lots to say about this, and I will shut up and let you do so, but, yeah, to build value to your business and therefore to go back to the last point, to be able to sell it well, you need systems to make it run without you
[00:24:18] Jan Cavelle: Otherwise it won’t run without you, without a system. Simple as that, and therefore you are devaluing your business massively, and you’re also making it an everyday nightmare.
[00:24:27] Siebe Van Der Zee: Now I’m kind of curious, because for example, a CRM system, I can see of course the value in, in, in a company for that. Are you also suggesting that you should have the latest and greatest system, or is it more you need a system.
[00:24:45] Jan Cavelle: A system, absolutely not the latest and greatest indeed. You know, I think systems, I’ve, you know, it’s got worse since we’ve got so techy. If there is so much one offer, and you have to remember, I mean, one of my problems was, having come from a sales background, I was obsessed by recording.
[00:25:07] Jan Cavelle: In card index box type and when I started, but you know, all those final details about what you said last time to the customer. You know, what a child’s name is, what their birth, when their birth is, you know, do they play golf or you know, all that stuff. That builds a relationship and you know, when you’ve got a lot of clients, you can’t remember, let’s face it, you have to actually look it up before you speak to them.
[00:25:31] Jan Cavelle: and that’s where a CRM system used to like gold dust. However, if your people in sales don’t use it, it doesn’t matter if it’s got wings on as a system, you know it, you want something simple up, friendly that they will keep updated.
[00:25:53] Siebe Van Der Zee: I would fully agree with that. you know, here in the United States and perhaps in England, the same, sometimes we use the term playbook.
[00:26:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: There has to be format and indeed you need systems. But, and that’s why I asked the question. There is such a variety of systems and formats, but as long as there seems to be. Structure in place, like you said, you know, pertinent data that you can, that you have access to, and that can be helpful in your communication with clients, customers, and perhaps manufacturers as well.
[00:26:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: That is so important to have.
[00:26:28] Jan Cavelle: absolutely. And the other thing is it stops you being so exposed. You know, I had people from the start who knew, as I was saying how to do everything. Which is great, but of course over a long period of time, and I had that business for nearly 20 years, you know, they’re not all gonna stay with you.
[00:26:47] Jan Cavelle: And so if none of it’s written down gradually, it’s an early skill and information. And we were in Cabinet making and woodwork manufacturing. And that’s a dying trade anyway because of automation. So all that skill dies off and suddenly, you know, you’re looking at people who can barely make a joint on a table.
[00:27:10] Jan Cavelle: and, you know, if it had been systemized from the start, it would’ve been absolutely simple.
[00:27:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah.
[00:27:16] Lesson 7: Investment isn’t only for other people
[00:27:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Great point. Lesson number seven. Investment isn’t only for other people. What comes to mind?
[00:27:25] Jan Cavelle: Well, I think, you know, I’ve got fascinated by this early on in my writing career. Well, I’ve still had a business, but it gradually came to my attention.
[00:27:34] Jan Cavelle: I think it was probably through the encouraging entrepreneurship campaigns. I did that particularly,investment is, it is terribly government by, Male children and, privileged money, child money background, and less privileged for people who have money and have male children tend to teach their kids investment in a way that females don’t.
[00:28:00] Jan Cavelle: If girls are taught about money, it tends to be even now much more likely to be, to do with housekeeping or balancing books or whatever. you know, they’re simply not taught mostly in the home to invest. And there’ve been a lot of campaigns over here.
[00:28:16] Jan Cavelle: Certainly to get the schools to do it, but I don’t think they are very much. And therefore this is a massive imbalance. and we all believe, certainly I did. You know, that investment is for privileged white males. You know, which is crazy because, you know, try to take $20 and whoever you are,start to know what you’re doing, gently invest and build up, and then you, gradually you’re the one with money.
[00:28:44] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s such an important point. I have to think of my own situation when I was in my twenties. Yeah. Living in beautiful Amsterdam, I was a potential buyer of a. Relatively small apartment on one of the beautiful canals in Amsterdam. Gorgeous. And I didn’t buy it. I moved on and I moved to other countries.
[00:29:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: But if I think back today, the value of that small apartment on that beautiful canal must be so high. And it was affordable and I didn’t invest in it. And I think it’s truly a lesson for many of us that have gone through their careers. If you have an opportunity, even at a relatively early age to invest for the long term, the payoff will be there, right?
[00:29:35] Jan Cavelle: Oh yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it’s, as you were saying earlier, it is a longer term. Viewpoint if it helps. I remember I was very lucky in that I did have, from inheritance, a sort of deposit system to get a place on my own very early, but I had a flat, believe it or not, in Notting Hill.
[00:29:56] Jan Cavelle: Now, this was before the film, so it was before it was famous and it was still a very rundown area, but I sold that because I was bored and wanted to move and so I sold this flat in Notting Hill just near where the film was filmed and everything else for under 20 grand.
[00:30:18] Jan Cavelle: Wow. Yeah, it still irritates me.
[00:30:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: But those are the lessons that we need to share with up and coming professionals at any age. We always add that because yeah, it doesn’t matter how old you are, but those are important lessons and I appreciate that you share those,
[00:30:36] Lesson 8: “Don’t quit” is a load of baloney
[00:30:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: lesson number eight.
[00:30:37] Siebe Van Der Zee: Interesting. Don’t quit is a load of baloney. Don’t quit as a load of baloney.
[00:30:43] Jan Cavelle: I think it’s, you know, it’s one of those messages that we’re constantly told, don’t quit. I mean, social media’s stacked with don’t quit, isn’t it? And it’s really dangerous. I mean, you know, all the look at the businesses that pivoted in the pandemic, you know, pivoting and doing something completely different is, An essential part of being an entrepreneur.
[00:31:08] Jan Cavelle: You have to recognize where there’s a dead end, otherwise you’re gonna go outta business.
[00:31:14] Siebe Van Der Zee: But that’s a tough one because when do you decide that you should either pivot or make adjustments or that you say, I have to quit. I have to go do something completely different. How do you make that decision?
[00:31:29] Jan Cavelle: Well, it’s, it goes back a little bit to being in the swimming pool, doesn’t it?
[00:31:32] Jan Cavelle: You know, you’re quite right. You can turn over too early and because of full of perceived laughter or you can go on and risk making a complete fool of yourself, it’s gotta be a judgment call. you know, and I think there is a very good argument for taking it as far as you can do.
[00:31:52] Jan Cavelle: Of course, but I think the obsessive message with don’t quit now is really dangerous. I think, for example, you know, there’s health. If your business is affecting your health mentally or physically, damn it, it’s time to quit. Your health is much more important. You know, that’s one example.
[00:32:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: But is that because whatever you’re seeing a doctor and the doctor advises you, you know, to take it easy or to do things differently, or is it really something it has to happen inside your own mind, in your own head, that you say, you decide, I don’t want to do this anymore.
[00:32:33] Siebe Van Der Zee: The way I’m doing it, I gotta make a change.
[00:32:35] Jan Cavelle: I recognize exactly what, where you’re coming from and I guess my last few years of business were pretty like that because my ignorance of selling and being unsure of sensible, you know, build this up and make it my retirement fund or just do something else and be sensible, you know, meant I did veer back and forth very much and.
[00:33:01] Jan Cavelle: There was that feeling that I shouldn’t stop doing it. Yeah. and people told me I shouldn’t stop doing it. Why are you thinking of stopping doing it? You’ve got a successful business. Why would you want to do that? And you know, health was certainly among the reasons I. you know, it wasn’t good for me in any way, shape, or form anymore.
[00:33:20] Jan Cavelle: It had been, but it’s passed its sell by day, you know? that can happen with everything.
[00:33:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s a tough one, right? Because, if someone has a certain job, a certain career, and they are also responsible for taking care of the family, It’s even more difficult to decide I’m not gonna do this anymore.
[00:33:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: Right. And yeah. And so it’s,I understand and I like the entrepreneurial mindset that you say, Hey, I make my own decisions. I don’t need someone to tell me. How to make my decisions. And at the same time, is it sometimes an easy way out? I’ve not been successful, therefore I quit. Or is it really, it could be a desire to focus on something completely different.
[00:34:06] Jan Cavelle: I think if it’s just an easy way out, you’re probably not meant to be an entrepreneur in the first place.
[00:34:10] Siebe Van Der Zee: Good point. Good point. Yeah.
[00:34:14] Jan Cavelle: You know, an entrepreneur’s life is not an easy one. I, you know, however successful, unsuccessful you are, it’s not, not fainthearted, is it?
[00:34:23] Lesson 9: The word entrepreneur isn’t synonymous with Superman
[00:34:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, absolutely. And actually it’s a good segue to lesson number nine, right?
[00:34:27] Siebe Van Der Zee: The word entrepreneur isn’t synonymous with Superman or superwoman.
[00:34:32] Jan Cavelle: Very true. And yet everybody thinks it is. You know, there’s such a misconception about entrepreneurship in lots and lots of ways. I remember very early on, you know, having, despite the fact I thought we were all very close when we were very small.
[00:34:49] Jan Cavelle: And, you know, people I thought knew me fairly well and having quite a fiery argument with one of them. One of the people who I worked for probably down the pub one day with a couple of beers, so probably not wise, moment to have an argument anyway, but, but yeah. and he was saying, well, you know, you’ve got your own business and you know, you’ve got your own house so you’re obviously really wealthy.
[00:35:11] Jan Cavelle: And I was saying, No, you know, I’m actually in debt up to here and Oh,no. Nonsense. You know, you are one of the lucky ones. You are really rich. People assume that business equals success equals wild wealths tucked away under the floorboard somewhere. you know, so I think that’s a misconception.
[00:35:33] Jan Cavelle: But also there is this thing that, And it’s probably partly from the entrepreneurs themselves. In many cases, we think we have to be strong Superman or whatever. There isn’t any room to be weak and to show vulnerability not to our clients because particularly in b2b, they’re trusting with their business, not with your staff because they want to be sure that you’re gonna function.
[00:36:04] Jan Cavelle: It’s very hard and again, briefly, I remember a task member of my team after we’d grown, and he was whinging frankly, about having to change his own light bulb. But, you know, and I’m not having enough light and nobody is running to call the electrician and causing a mammoth fuss.
[00:36:24] Jan Cavelle: But, that was beside the point. I said I couldn’t help it. I was in the hospital. I was unconscious having an operation. That’s not my problem, is it? He said, you know, and there is this extraordinary, we don’t. Care about you, you cannot be in any way vulnerable. and in the broadest sense of having any weakness.
[00:36:50] Jan Cavelle: And I also think that there’s a lot of proven data, which is really fascinating, that entrepreneurs in early childhood have more often than not far higher than the average, had some sort of trauma in the family. So they’ve conditioned themselves to, to get on and get through it, which of course makes some wonderful entrepreneurs, but sometimes it makes us prone to pushing too hard.
[00:37:20] Jan Cavelle: So you go way past the place where you should have said, hold on, I need to take time. actually I’m falling to bets here.
[00:37:27] Siebe Van Der Zee: I can imagine that this particular issue is extremely important and valuable when you talk to entrepreneurs who perhaps are relatively early in their career being an entrepreneur, the ups and downs and how you deal with that, your experience over many years and in so many different situations.
[00:37:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: I can see you speak from experience and I think as an entrepreneur. That’s what you need to hear, not just from a book with all the respect, but Right. You need to hear from the person.
[00:38:00] Jan Cavelle: I think that’s true. Yeah. yeah. You know, and I have had some cooling experiences of, you know, and of course being a single mother too, as I was, running a business, you know, that leaves you very isolated.
[00:38:11] Jan Cavelle: So, you know, you know, again, there’s this additional pressure, but you have to be, Strong and Superman superwoman, super
[00:38:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: person.
[00:38:21] Siebe Van Der Zee: I mean, that’s such an important point and I do want to emphasize that because, I have to admit in many ways I’ve been very privileged in my life, in my career, and, over the years I have become very much aware.
[00:38:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: I. Especially when it came to women in business, colleagues from my first job many years ago, how impressive that was and the obstacles that so many women still, today, have to deal with and to succeed in that area as a female entrepreneur. is truly, it sets an example for future generations.
[00:38:55] Jan Cavelle: I certainly think that’s true, and I think women come under a tremendous pressure of being in the public eye in a way that men don’t, and I think that’s a huge pressure. Equally though, I think men are more conditioned to be strong and be tough and be a superhero, so you know, there’s disadvantage on both sides.
[00:39:13] Jan Cavelle: Poor things.
[00:39:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I’m sure we can come up with examples that are not exactly like that. but, I like it. and again, I appreciate what you’re doing.
[00:39:22] Lesson 10: Never lose your thirst for learning
[00:39:22] Siebe Van Der Zee: And, lesson number 10, we’re already at lesson number 10, but I think it’s such a critically important lesson. Lesson number 10. Never lose Your thirst for learning.
[00:39:33] Siebe Van Der Zee: Wow. That fits with our podcast. Thank you for bringing up that lesson.
[00:39:39] Jan Cavelle: Yeah, I haven’t really thought about it, but of course it does, doesn’t it? It fits really well. I should have done that by design. I can’t claim I did. What a shame? but yeah, it, I mean, Going back to, I suppose that’s a lesson learned.
[00:39:52] Jan Cavelle: You can see it trace through my entire career because you’ve got this bolshy childhood, you know, couldn’t learn sports. I didn’t learn sport, couldn’t do art, didn’t learn art and generally caused a lot of trouble. Luckily I was academically fairly sound so I didn’t have to bother too much and sail through okay.
[00:40:11] Jan Cavelle: But, then chose to go my own way. Firstly sort of messing around jobs, then starting small businesses, then starting a business as a single mom. you know, but all of it led to this extreme ignorance throughout my business, having to find out on the hoof and learn as I went. Which is a hard way to do it, I think, as you say, I think there’s a lot that can’t be learned from books, actually.
[00:40:40] Jan Cavelle: So I think that’s really going to be necessary, however brilliant you are,to how much you’ve researched and how much you’ve gone to colleges, and one thing and another. However, there is an extreme ignorance, and I think I got the cake on it. but later on I, one of the things I think I briefly mentioned, after my son left, one thing I thought was actually, you know, I’ve got a bigger team.
[00:41:05] Jan Cavelle: I can start going off and doing some more formalized learning about business. So I signed up for a club in London that specialized in high growth businesses, business founders, various lessons, courses and what have you. And I did a six months intermittent course of work on your business and work on yourself and get jammed up.
[00:41:30] Jan Cavelle: and it was a game changer for me. You know, I was in so many ways. I’d been so isolated. Firstly, for the first time I was around people who I felt at home with, you know, because item mistakes and with other mothers at the schoolyards and, you know, local businesses. I hadn’t really come across any other entrepreneurs.
[00:41:53] Jan Cavelle: So there was this group of Bolshy, difficult, mixed up, determined people and I was thinking, wow, you know, I’ve come home. So, that was part of it. But also I got hooked on learning in a way. I hadn’t since my teens, cause I was a massive reader in my teens. So, on the side I learned lots and I just loved these courses. Absolutely reveled in Oh, now I understand that’s why I did that. That’s why this didn’t work, you know, and it set me on a course of examining my whole business and realizing what worked, what happened. And later on, of course it really set me on course of writing because I wanted to continue that journey of learning about entrepreneurship, and I needed something to facilitate that without running a business anymore.
[00:42:54] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. Well, let me throw a twist at it. the lessons that you have learned. Is there a lesson that you have unlearned in your life, in your career?
[00:43:05] Jan Cavelle: A lesson I have unlearned in my career?
[00:43:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: Maybe not.
[00:43:09] Jan Cavelle: I think that there are a lot. I mean, I think,
[00:43:12] Jan Cavelle: I think I was heavily Pigeonholed by my upbringing and the schools I went to and the sort of girls I was brought up with who were from a particular background and very Very expected to get married and never to work and you know, completely different,anything I expected. And I used to have a discomfort between the fact that I didn’t fit in, with the people I grew up with, I guess.
[00:43:42] Jan Cavelle: And I think I’ve unlearned, I am perfectly Comfortable with who I am and who I’ve become now. but it’s taken me a long time. So I guess that.
[00:43:54] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, that’s valuable. And I almost put a smile on my face because I can tell you are very confident, you have a good sense of humor, put things in perspective.
[00:44:03] Siebe Van Der Zee: but I understand that perhaps it wasn’t always easy.
[00:44:07] Jan Cavelle: No, it hasn’t always been easy. I can’t argue with you there, but, it has always taught me.
[00:44:12] Siebe Van Der Zee: Wonderful. And I want to thank you again for joining us and sharing your wisdom with our global audience. It was very interesting. I wanna make some closing remarks.
[00:44:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: You have been listening to our international program. 10 lessons learned. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary, and as always, we are supported by the Professional Development Forum. Our guest today is Jan Cavelle, an experienced serial entrepreneur and a successful author and speaker from the United Kingdom with a focus on helping to aspire and grow other entrepreneurs, sharing her 10 lessons with our audience and to our audience, don’t forget to leave us a review or a comment.
[00:44:56] Siebe Van Der Zee: You can also email us at podcast 10 lessons learned.com. That is podcast at number 10 10 lessons learned.com. I hope you will subscribe so that you don’t miss any future episodes. And remember, this is a podcast that makes the world wiser and wiser, lesson by lesson. Thank you and stay safe.