Gazelles – past and present (part 2)

02/05/2012

I wrote a blog a week ago that covered Harvey Goldsmith’s view of the Top 10 greatest entrepreneurs past and present (part 1). Here is the final listing from 6 – 10 and the insights I think are important for other ambitious people:

6. Harry Hyams (1928 – ) – a man who changed the face of commercial property. He built Centre Point in the 60’s and left it controversially empty for months. He was a man who got his timing right, stirred things up – a great example of success is often down to luck. Many would say he planned to be “lucky”

7.Bernie Ecclestone (1930-) – grasped the opportunity when he saw it. From selling cars to F1 supremo. The window of opportunity is presented to so many of us but how many grab it when it appears? It often only lasts for a short time. His vision and leadership is an inspiration to us all.

8.William Morris (1834-1896) – crafts and arts specialist who dreamed of improving the quality of life for British workers. He was a highly successful artist whose designs are still around today – the message is? Leaving a legacy and putting something back!

9.Lew Grade (1906 -1998) – a master entrepreneur in the entertainment business. Famous for pushing an idea across the finishing line – how many of us are guilty of losing faith in an idea when the first hurdle presents itself. Faith is such an important part of getting the idea into the market place. Sunday Night at the Palladium and Pink Panther were several of his major accomplishments.

10. Sir Martin Sorrell (1945-) Not had the best of press this week given the big salary. However, so many forget what this man has achieved. In the mid 80’s he bought a little company called Wire & Plastic Products – this became WPP. It emerged as a world-beating communications and advertising business. Annual revenues running into billions and profits approaching £1bn. How many others can say they have done that. Grit and determination are key ingredients of his success. So the press….get off his back, how short people’s memories are!


High Growth Companies Need Critical Friends

18/08/2011

The journey of a high growth business is very much a roller coaster ride with added twists and turns, some you see coming over the horizon and others smacking you in the face without prior notice. It has struck me that high growth businesses and their teams need to create a whole team of what I call critical friends to support the growth journey, these include:

1. Customers – we have to convince them we can deliver and do the job well. Very often the catalyst for high growth is a single customer who trusts you and your company with a big order. Many customers/buyers like to play it safe and all too often will default to the less hassle option. You must persuade this critical friend to give you the break, if they do, be sure they enjoy a great experience, this big order provides the evidence to others that you can handle serious levels of business. Let them down and you have potentially blown it.

2. Funders – many companies hit a road block because of cash. They need the necessary funding to take their business to the next level, without this critical friend you are going nowhere. Be sure you have trusted advisers, not fee chasers – they should help you present your case in a clear and concise way. Always keep your bank in the loop and supply them with regular management accounts. Avoid surprises, if you envisage a problem let them know well in advance.

3.Strategic partners – An organisation is often viewed by the company they keep, be sure to surround yourself with partners and collaborators that add value to your brand. Strategic partnering can help you extend your service offering, enter new markets and innovate. For new high growth businesses partnering with larger organisations can help you punch above your weight.

4.New Staff – As a business grows, gaps start to emerge in ability and capability. Remember all companies need thinkers, doers, controllers and sellers. New critical friends to complement the management team are often pivotal to moving a business to the next level – typically sales and financial control. Word of caution, be careful about how you choose these new friends, so often lack of rigour in selection can lead to cash burn! I have seen it so often with high growth businesses recruiting sales staff that never make the mark.

5. Mentors – These critical friends are so important for an entrepreneurial founder. The journey can be lonely and all to often the leader has to put on a brave face, in front of staff, customers, suppliers (and all too often family). This can be a draining experience. All successful entrepreneurs I have researched have consult mentors in times of need, this can be both business and emotional issues. Mentors help to develop new ideas, overcome barriers, connect you with experts, help out on strategy, help to shift mindset, help to prioritise……..

Be sure to find these critical friends, my research shows they make the journey much more manageable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Getting Your Head In Gear – Ideal Performing State

11/08/2011

The ideal performing state is the point when your mind is perfectly aligned to the task you need to undertake  – it’s a positive state of readiness that manifests itself into high levels of personal confidence. It is vital that we get our mind and body into the ideal performing state before we take on any challenging situations. All actions  flow from our state of mind, so it is important to condition our thoughts to the outcome we want. By doing this, we programme our self to deliver a highly tuned and positive performance. Any successful person will tell you that before they embark on a major goal – they think things through!

Getting into the ideal performing state takes practice and as we move towards our goals we need to be constantly aware of the need to get into the zone. It maybe an interview for a new job or promotion, a big pitch, a marathon run or a speech you have to deliver – whatever the challenge you must connect thought and action to get the best result. Getting your head in gear means following some mind practices:

  • Visualise and define very clearly what a great performance looks like for you
  • Work through the start, middle and ending of the task you are going to perform
  • Look in the mirror and tell yourself that the performance will be fantastic
  • Be sure to have practiced and rehearsed – winners don’t wing it
  • Breathing can help immensely – sit upright and still, close your eyes, take a deep breath and count to seven – slowly release and count to eleven. Repeat for a couple of minutes
  • Concentrate on the task at hand and avoid having your mind cluttered with other thoughts

Your ability to access the ideal performing state will increase your success rate. Keep practicing in the mind gym and watch yourself grow in confidence. Success becomes a habit! Getting your head in gear


High Performers Need To Have Confidence

09/08/2011

Confidence is a key element to high performance and going the extra mile. When you have confidence you feel that you can take on the world – but be careful that this confidence does not come across as arrogance – always underpin outward facing high energy with humility.

Confidence can be viewed in context of three dimensions – inner self, external you and your profession or vocation:

Inner confidence – your game plan for life should be clear and you are comfortable with the direction in which you are heading. By setting personal intentions and putting energy into moving towards them you achieve a clear sense of purpose, it makes getting out of bed a pleasure. When you have a real meaning to what you do, you feel energised and motivated to get on with things

Outer confidence – physical well-being and feeling comfortable with our appearance does away with any inhibitions that we may have about ourself. If you feel over weight, unfit then this can have a negative impact on confidence. Take time for regular exercise, this is both mentally and physically stimulating.

Professional confidence – being the master of your trade, career, vocation or profession makes you confident when interacting with others. When you know your stuff and you are well prepared with your knowledge and expertise you do away with nerves associated with lack of understanding.

Communication with others whether that be one to one or to a group becomes easier when we can tick each of the confidence boxes. When any element is out of sync we end up with an uncomfortable feeling that manifests itself into lack of confidence. When these three areas are aligned we become comfortable with who we are and we reach a state of being confident in our own skin. We connect more effectively with others and take on new challenges far more easily.


Smart Operator – High Growth Individuals

19/07/2011

Recent economic challenges have placed serious pressure on people to think very differently. Business as usual is not an option, its time for something completely different. Cuts in public and private sector budgets have taken their toll – redundancies, lost revenue, projects going on hold…the story goes on. So what’s the answer? Manage decline and depression or look for the opportunities. As one delegate at an event I spoke at the other week put it….”recession, I have decided not to participate”. A very refreshing approach and outlook, the very opposite to the doom and gloom the media encourages us to embrace.

The answer is to practice and develop the Smart Operator Mindset – this ultimately leads to the creation of the high growth individual. We should draw parallels from the world of enterprise and create our own personal business plan, one that maps out a destination with the prioritized tasks to get us there. Here are some pointers for the Smart Operator Mindset:

1. Smart Proposition – define your unique talents, what you love doing, what you want, what gets out of bed. Aligning a future to a basic purpose really does help to accelerate the way forward.

2. Smart Vision – write down your personal intentions for 6 months, 1 year, and 2-years. Base this on your Smart Proposition. Include earnings and other components that make up the life you want

3. Smart Plan – remember a vision without tactics is hallucination. List the things you need to do and get on with it. The right path will emerge when activity is initiated.  Avoid procrastination. Set yourself KPI’s to check whether you are on track.

4. Smart Brand – you are selling yourself, so work out what mental imprints you want to leave on those you meet. Be memorable, deliver on your promises and become the master of your trade. This is what you will become known for.

5. Smart Collaborator – work out who you need to engage and team up with. Alliances and partnerships are a critical part of the Smart Operators DNA.

6. Smart Communicator – master the art of getting messages across, think win-win and live in the world of your audience. Clarity and concise messages that considers both your needs and those of others lead to positive relationships that go somewhere.

7. Smart Connector – work out a plan for finding, reaching and locking into to those individuals and organisations that are important to your personal progression. The connectors and influencers could include suppliers, banks, associates, partners, customers, other departments.

Practice makes perfect, another cliché that I hate, but its true. As Malcolm Gladwell said it takes 10,000 hours to become successful, so that means blood, sweat and tears, I still don’t think there are any short cuts to getting want you want. A combination of being really good at what you love doing, combined with taking ownership of your life fused with determination and persistence help pave the way forward. The Smart Operator Mindset is a framework for you to hang your thinking on.

 


Authenticity

08/07/2011

Authenticity is such a powerful word – just being who we are, not pretending to be something or someone else and just doing what we promise to do.

No one likes a fake as this can deliver very disappointing outcomes. Personally I often question whether I go around with the word MUG stamped across my forehead, why?……. because I always believe what people tell me. If someone says they are going to do something, then why should I believe differently. We can all forget from time to time to do something we promised, I think that’s excusable, to a certain extent. However, every now and then we are let down, worst case ripped off, or left with a feeling of what happened there.

Generally speaking I believe that most people are authentic, thinking otherwise can lead to cynicism, judging others too early and intolerance.

It’s a massive area and so much has been written on the subject, thinkers, philosophers, historians and scientists. As with most things I like to keep things simple – being comfortable in your own skin and who you are is a great place to be – for many it takes a long time to get there. When we align, what we believe with what we do and who we are, then behave in that way – the resultant effect is authenticity.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Resilience – A characteristic of ambitious entrepreneurs

19/06/2011

The last five years of reviewing and observing how high growth entrepreneurs go about their job has revealed many interesting behaviours. One of the most valuable is the power of resilience – an ability to maintain momentum when everything seems to be going pear-shaped. When you listen to the stories of those who have achieved something of significance in business, it almost seems mandatory to have suffered financial, commercial and emotional hardship. Many I speak to recite their story of misfortune with total clarity and passion. They talk with great pride how they turned difficult times into prosperity and growth.Without having gone through the pain of managing difficult times business wisdom is hard to acquire.

 

I believe the underlying force that enables people to keep going is the power of purpose and having faith in their mission. Whilst many had a realistic view of the reality of difficult times ahead, whether that be running out of cash, revenues declining or challenging economic conditions they never lost sight of what they set out to achieve. The burning sense of purpose and intention creates resilience and an ability to keep plodding on. Without a clear sense of what you want to achieve and deep-rooted desire, falling at the first hurdle is almost inevitable.

Success is underpinned by a strong sense of purpose and clarity of intention. This creates resilience in those dark times.