“I wonder if I still remember why. Partly by accident,” says Siva Parlar and laughs.
Siva, who invented meatless kebab, has just been asked why he became an entrepreneur. The story started when Siva wanted to be a pilot at the age of 18 but didn’t pass the medical examination. Young Siva did not have a Plan B, and he was raised by an entrepreneurial family. Entrepreneurship was so evident in the daily lives of the household that the family joked about being a limited company.
“Entrepreneurship suited me, and I quickly became an entrepreneur. I adapt to situations, my environment and others easily,” Siva reflects.
He says he would not change a day. Entrepreneurship, primarily as a way of life rather than just a form of work, is strongly highlighted in the telephone interview.
”What else would I do?” he says.
Three key strengths for an entrepreneur – and none of them are related to numbers
Siva has operated both as a sole trader and under a limited company. When he started running his parents’ restaurant, the work was largely done alone. The invention of Vöner, which has arisen from the growth in demand for vegan food and observations of customer behaviour, has led to partners in the company. Working hard alone has been left behind.
Siva, who takes on work confidently, has had a few important wishes for his partner right from the start. “I told them I’d do everything else, but don’t give me numbers. Don’t put me in the office for eight hours a day. I am at my best out in the field,” Siva stresses.
I told them I’d do everything else, but don’t give me numbers. Don’t put me in the office for eight hours a day. I am at my best out in the field.
He thinks it is important for an entrepreneur to identify their own strengths and develop them as needed.
“One must dare to present ideas to customers and partners. For example, because of the coronavirus, customer behaviour changed, and it is forcing companies to change.”
In addition to bravery, openness and courage have helped Parlar move forward as an entrepreneur.
“When I have dared to open my mouth and talk, I have found the best help. Chatting with clients helps you improve what you are doing.”
The paradox of entrepreneurship frees one up to do things in just the right way
Although Siva is dedicated to his entrepreneurship, he has not been able to avoid moments of doubt. When he was younger, he occasionally wondered if he was making the right decision when his friends were out studying and getting certificates and degrees from universities.
“There was hesitation. ‘They will become great officials and I’m just a restaurateur.’ Should I be there too?”
The doubts have since disappeared. There are 10 years between him becoming an entrepreneur and today. Why is Siva an entrepreneur today?
“Because I couldn’t be anything else. Every day is different. We are currently setting up a restaurant for Vöner. One day very recently I was in the restaurant, the next moment I was in a meeting. Then I ran back to the restaurant. I’m constantly on the move. That’s the best,” says Siva.
If you are a doctor, you know you are a doctor. If you are a lawyer, you know it. As an entrepreneur, you are nothing, but you are also everything.
As the interview gets directed towards reflection on what would have been good to understand about entrepreneurship earlier, Parlar notes that lessons are constantly coming up. According to him, there is a paradox in entrepreneurship: an entrepreneur does not have a pre-determined job description, but at the same time, everything depends on them.
“If you are a doctor, you know you are a doctor. If you are a lawyer, you know it. As an entrepreneur, you are nothing, but you are also everything. I would have liked to have understood this earlier.”
What is the last leap into entrepreneurship?
Anyone who dreams of entrepreneurship may already have a creative idea in the back of their head and maybe even thoughts already recorded on paper or in files. Yet, many constantly delay becoming an entrepreneur.
The answer to the last leap is simple: courage.
”I have seen some great ideas and business plans, but the courage is lacking. The desire is there, but there is also a lack of courage to jump into the unknown. That is understandable: there is rent and other bills that one must pay. I was advantaged by the fact that the first euro to enter my bank account came from entrepreneurship,” says Parlar.
According to Siva, creativity does not necessarily require inventing a completely new business. He uses his own field as an example.
“There are millions of restaurants. That’s why it is important to think about how you stand out and how you’re reforming your industry and your business.”