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  • Social Entrepreneur Index

John Ramsay: How my Father's Dementia Inspired me to be an Entrepreneur

Launching and running your own business is an exciting time in every entrepreneur’s life, you’ve turned your passion into a career and have the freedom to make your own decisions. Yet taking a company from launch to a success can be a challenge, and the smoothness of this transition often comes down to the business owner’s ability to harness the lessons they’ve learnt in their lives and apply them to their business.

John Ramsay, CEO of Shift8*

Turn a passion into a career

My motivation to launch Shift8* and leave my job as a corporate lawyer came from my experience of growing up with a father with dementia. I witnessed first-hand the dementia journey and the impact it has on the individual and their loved ones, and I knew that I wanted to help other people navigate their own journey and show them that even while they are going through this experience, they can still have moments of happiness. It was my passion and determination to challenge the stigma associated with dementia that led to me creating my own business and continuing to drive it forward every day. When you’re looking to set up a business, first take a look at your own life experiences, and see if there is something you are passionate about. Creating a company linked to a passion will help ensure its longevity and success, as you will always be striving to do more and take it further.

Remember what it’s like

The best entrepreneurs are the ones that can still remember their roots and can relate to their customers, and it is this ability to empathise that will help you succeed. I meet carers, relatives and friends of those living with dementia almost daily, and I find I can have a much more open dialogue with them because of my own personal experience of watching my dad go through his journey. This ability to connect also gives you a competitive edge if you are in a crowded space, as you will be able to engage with the potential customers and come across more genuine.

Understanding your skills and shortfalls

While using your personal experience can be a benefit to a business, understanding your shortfalls is also essential when forming a team. Attempting to do it all can really limit a businesses’ growth and success, so it’s important to have an idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are and surround yourself with skilled individuals who can fill in the gaps. This can take the form of an individual, or depending on your budget and size, can even mean outsourcing. When looking back on your personal experiences, try not to gloss over the moments where things didn’t work out, as this honesty will serve you well in the future.

One of the biggest misconceptions when entering a new business or starting out by yourself is that because you lack the business experience you won’t be able to succeed. However, life experience really can help you on your entrepreneurial journey, helping you stay grounded and overcome difficult challenges, so don’t dismiss it.



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