The impact of business and personal progression is catalysed when entrepreneurs come together to see for real what excellence looks like. This was brought home to me last week when a group of our High Growth Foundation members assembled to discuss the impact their visit to Silicon Valley had had on their business. The outputs can only be describe as transformational, here are just a few of the comments made:
- A “just try it” culture introduced has resulted in an increase of £2M in gross profit
- By thinking big I have won more orders
- Culture eats strategy every time – my competitors can’t copy my culture
- Tactics now dictate my strategy – I just get on with it, amazing things happen
- I am catching the next big market wave and driving the business in this direction, it’s working
- I am spending more time on the business than in it – this makes things happen faster
- The inspiration I gained has opened many new opportunities to improve and I am not just talking about it, I am getting on and doing it!
- I have set up new businesses that are global from day one
- Life has become easier because I now lead the business rather than get involved in the minuscule things that make no difference – more importantly I have worked out how to stand back and empower others
- Looking after staff and culture comes first – this takes care of customers
The message I have taken from this community exchange is that entrepreneurs learn best when they are in environments that inspire. Management books, learning events, seminars and PowerPoint presentations on how to build a business plan are great….but, there is nothing more effective than experiencing for real, first hand, in the present, amazing business practice. The stories delegates listened to from founders in global companies like LinkedIn, delivered insights way above any management degree or business studies course. As one of the delegates from another trip to the West Coast said, I learned more from three days than I did from two years studying my MBA. Formal training in business and management without doubt helps us to learn the tools and techniques for growing a business. However, nothing takes the place of seeing “great in action”. This is where the learning really happens. (Having a coach or mentor helps to put what you have seen in action as well)
In a sort of related way it does prove the importance of training the next generation of entrepreneurs by getting them to become apprentices to those already running a business. The reality of what building a company feels like can only be fully understood when you are spinning the plates of customers, staff, finances, delivery, HMRC, the bank, suppliers, pipeline, writing quotations……..
So the messages are:
- If you want to grow your business fast, get close to someone who has done it/doing it – Silicon Valley experience is a great learning journey
- If you want to set up a business but are in fear of making the leap, go and spend a week with someone doing it
- If you want to go global, get on a plane and get immersed in the market and the culture
There is nothing more powerful in business than being around other ambitious entrepreneurs just doing great things. These experiences of observing what great looks like helps to nudge the mindset into a new space, one that thinks bigger and one that is more open to innovation and new possibilities. The economy needs more people to think big, with only 32,000 businesses in the UK employing over 50 staff, we have a long way to go.
You can’t manage and grow your business sat at the desk……fast track your performance by being with doers, avoid the talkers like the plague.