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Pioneer of the Week: Mark Leruste of The Unconventionalists

Thought Leader

Pioneer of the Week: Mark Leruste of The Unconventionalists

 Mark Leruste - Profile Photo (by Robin Boot).jpg

 

Name            Mark Leruste
Location        London
Business        The Unconventionalists

 

 

I’m the founder and host of
The Unconventionalists. We run talks, courses, weekend boot camps and 8-week accelerators on coping with the various dilemmas that come with starting a business.

 

Two interesting facts about me! -

1. I used to be a professional moustache farmer! As in I spent four years as Country Manager for The Movember Foundation where I helped raise €2.8million for men’s health. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

2. When I was 12 years old I appeared in The Count Of Monte Cristo, a TV drama series with Gerard Depardieu.

 

How did you start your business?

The Unconventionalists was a natural progression from a side business I had for five years (life coaching) coupled with my growing interest in launching a podcast about ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.

 

Why did you start-up?

In 2015 I decided to launch The Unconventionalists podcast (available on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, etc.) without really knowing what I was doing. But very quickly, it became clear to me that every guest I interviewed, be it an entrepreneur, athlete, adventurer or politician, all had one thing in common: they all freakin’ started and were doing it full time. So in May 2016 I decided to quit my dream job and take a jab at being an entrepreneur full time.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

I talk about this in greater detail in my TEDx talk, but the biggest challenge by far is how lonely it can feel sometimes. 76% of businesses created in the UK last year were started by people who didn’t employ anyone else apart from the owner. Meaning 3 in 4 businesses in the UK are run by solo-entrepreneurs (aka solopreneurs). It’s a lonesome path for many of us. But we simply don’t talk about it enough.

 

What helped your business VOOM?

I previously wrote an article about this on the community but by far the biggest mind-set shift I’ve had to adopt is that no one else is going to tell me what I have to do. I’m my own manager now. So I needed to create a bunch of tools and frameworks to help me be as productive as can be, while still rocking my PJs at 4pm in the afternoon…And as you can tell by the article I wrote, Post-Its saved my business!

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Where do you work from?

I mostly work from home but I also love to work from a few local coffee shops (especially LLS Café).


What do you wish you knew when you first started in business?

How hard it would be! I know it sounds obvious but as I had started a few businesses on the side of my full-time job, I thought I knew more or less what being an entrepreneur entailed. But I had NO IDEA! Nothing can prepare you for what it feels like to rely 100% on yourself and your business to pay the bills and put food on the table.

 

If I could go back in time and tell myself one piece of advice, I would say, “Mate, this is going to be the hardest thing you’ll ever do! But remember that you are brave, that you’re doing your best and it’s OK to take some time off to enjoy life and spend time with your loved ones. After all, isn’t that why you started this in the first place?”  


Two top tips for my industry –

1. Make sure you hone your own voice and your own style. Because that’s how you build an audience, by standing up for something. By sharing what you believe in. Not by being beige and by playing it safe. Dare to make mistakes and to be disliked!

2. Remember your customer is the hero, not your brand. It’s by far the biggest mind-set shift I’ve learned in my first year of starting a business (see this TEDx talk and listen to this Podcast for more on this).
 

Some advice for other Pioneers…

You are not alone! It may feel like that at times, but whether you’re thinking of starting a business, have already started a business or are looking to grow your business, you will undoubtable come across a wide range of challenges, issues and problems. And you may end up doubting yourself more than you pat yourself on the back.

 

 

Connect with Mark by tagging @markleruste in the comments
Or follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.