Global Entrepreneurship Conference – Get Lucky

14/03/2012

This was probably one of the best events I have been to for a long time. Sometime fantastic speakers, for me Lord Heseltine did the business, what an incredible man. His own entrepreneurial story was highly engaging, it came straight from the heart. He talked about how lucky he had been in his career, one that led to the creation of Haymarket Publishing, a global business with 2,000 employees.

Well on the note of luck, Harvard Business School have done their research and some really interesting findings have emerged. They claim that luck in business can be cultivated, through what they call lucky attitudes and lucky networks. They found that a lot of their entrepreneurs believed in and are extremely open to the power of serendipity – in other words a lucky attitude. They also have a wide network of relationships that at first glance may have little to do with business but somehow later come into great relevance.

Richard Branson’s off the scale mindset of creativity is testament to the power of being different. A common theme around loving what you do was woven throughout the day – passion lies of the heart of success, it keeps you going and is a vital ingredient to mental toughness. The Black Farmer Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, hit the spot as well – going into business or growing a company means you have to overcome your fear, and you only live once, so go for it and be brave.

An amazing job done by Liverpool Vision and the broader Liverpool Community – so many other cities could learn from their ambition and visionary leadership. An example of public sector practicing what they preach.


High Growth Foundation Wow Event – Insights from Google

02/12/2011

What an absolutely fantastic High Growth Foundation event the other night at the Imperial War Museum. Led by Michael Taylor with his usual charm, wit and insight, we had a great line up of speakers who had fantastic and inspirational stories to tell. Steve Oliver and his Music Magpie venture is a real one to watch in the Region, and success could not be more deserved, a really nice bloke. Steve speaks from the heart and his views on creating a loyal workforce with a culture of graft were well received. Deepak Jayaraman from Goldman Sachs articulated the benefits of mentoring and how the 10,000 small business programme can help in this regard.

Alexis Giles delivered a fantastic key-note and shared with over 200 delegates Google’s rules for building an innovative culture and gosh were they powerful, here they are:

  1. Ideas come from everywhere – everyone has a place at the table
  2. Share everything you can – create a culture of sharing new thoughts, no idea is a bad idea
  3. Hire smart people – they create a challenging culture
  4. Chase your dreams – create 20% thinking time
  5. Innovation is not instant perfection – have a go and refine
  6. Data is apolitical – provide the fact to evidence potential
  7. Creativity loves constraint – draws out new ideas quick
  8. Users not money – money follows the eyes
  9. Don’t kill projects, morph them – iterate till you get it right

Alexis was a real star performer and delivered some real value to businesses with a passion to grow. One of the nuggets I took away was the importance of embedding processes and systems as a company grows. Google are a shining example of how an innovative culture fused with discipline delivers excellence. The lack of processes and systems is what so often stunts growth, innovation on its own is not enough.

Alexis and the Google story was an inspiration for ambitious people – so chuffed she will be hosting our  study tour at Google’s Mountain View complex in March 2012 – what an experience that will be. Its not all doom and gloom.


Global Brands – Did they take part in recession?

30/11/2011

The Autumn statement provided depressing news for many households and entrepreneurs trying to build a future. Running a business is hard enough without listening to Euro crisis problems, poor growth forecasts and a recovery in the dim and distant future. The resultant effect of the Chancellors statement for many will be – baton down the hatches and reduce investment in people development and new ideas. This becomes a self fulling prophecy and usually you get what you think about.

There are always different ways to view the world, we can be a builder or destroyer of our own future. Well my advice is life is too short for two years of life to evaporate, i.e sitting there and waiting for economic recovery to happen, we should embrace a mindset of not taking part in the recession. Scarcity is the mother of innovation and history tells us that some of the most successful brands on the planet started or thrived during recessionary times here are just a few examples:

General Electric – Not only did Thomas Edison set this Company up in the middle of a recession it thrived when the US economy faced collapse.

IBM – Set up in the middle of a US economy slump

General Motors – set up during the US financial crash of 1908 and went on a buying spree when the Federal Reserve was approaching melt down

Disney – really started to take off smack bang in the middle of the Great Depression

Burger King – started just after the Korean war, its founders philosophy being people still need to eat

Microsoft – Started by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975 when the United States was mired in stagflation -the combination of rising unemployment and inflation combined with stagnant GDP

CNN – Started when the Federal Reserve made the decision to aggressively raise interest rates to curb inflation, it caused a “double dip” recession

Apple– Apple got its start in 1975, during another downturn and thrived just after the dot-com bubble burst!

So the message is…Its not all bad news, it’s about having a vision and mindset to create something special and different. Whilst we must avoid putting our head in the sand and thinking all is OK, we must find a balance – place one foot firmly on the accelerator and have the other hovering over the brake!


Google comes to the High Growth Foundation

29/11/2011

Creating innovative high performance cultures is what Alexis Giles from Google’s Mountain View HQ (San Francisco) will talk about tomorrow evening. Alexis will share her insights and provide over 250 delegates with a preview of what made Google the global phenomenon it is today. We are also delighted to have Steve Oliver CEO from Music Magpie, one of the North’s potential global stars. Deepak Jayaraman, from Goldman Sachs will provide his highly valued opinion on what his organisation is doing to create more high growth businesses – the importance of leadership, differentiated value propositions, mindset and attitude.

Hopefully this event will stimulate big thinking in the Region and get entrepreneurs to remember “we have one life, give it a go, aim for the big time and avoid any regrets in years to come”. How many times have I heard people say “I wish I would have……….”

Implementing big thinking often means risk, however, if growth decisions are made within a framework of insight and peer-to-peer networks then it creates some degree of comfort to those who have a burning desire to make a difference.

Most successful entrepreneurs I have met have been inspired by someone, something or an event in their life – one that drives change and a new path. I certainly hope this showcase and the study tour we are taking to the West Coast of the States (Silicon Valley) in early 2012, will stimulate individuals to embrace a truly limitless view on where they can take their business. High growth takes courage, determination and balls – this event is for doers not dreamers……


High growth entrepreneurs need a mentor

08/11/2011

A mentor is one of the most important tools in the entrepreneurs kit bag. Growth companies constantly reach forks in the road – so, which way?  As your business gets bigger then hopefully the team you have created will help you to make the decision on which road to take.  However there are often BIG decisions that are outside the scope of the knowledge of the guys sat around the table.  Having a mentor – someone whos experience and judgement you trust can be a serious crutch on these occasions.  Asking those very simple questions like, what would you do?  How would you approach it?  Who should I go and speak to?  Who are the best advisers? – to someone who has experienced the scars of the pain you are feeling is all too often the answer.  Every successful entrepreneur we have worked with (and that’s thousands) lean on someone they respect, all too often that advice comes over a beer or coffee.  It’s not formal, it’s not shrouded in business plans and three-year P & L calculations – its good solid common sense.

The reality is that there are so many individuals out there who have succeeded in business and are more than happy to provide a helping hand – the fact is they have not been asked.  The wisdom, experience and insight to help us make better decisions often comes free, from willing souls who just want to help others overcome the hurdles and challenges they face. The High Growth Foundation we have set up is living proof that members who are much further on in their journey are only too willing to give someone their time, experience and thoughts, without any strings attached!

So the conclusion is, if you are trying to grow your business find someone who has been down your path – invite them for a brew and use the magic words – please can I ask your advice.  It could be the best couple of quid you have ever spent.

Most of the battles in business you have to win are in your mind first. Your mentor can help you work out your game plan and indeed make better informed decisions.


Coming soon – High Growth Foundation, Silicon Valley

25/10/2011

If the UK is going to become the best place to set up and grow a business then we need to look at great practice. The entrepreneurial capital of the world is the West Coast of the US, Silicon Valley. The UK has the expertise, knowledge, skills and talent to match any part of the world, so what’s holding us back? We need to change our mindset, think big and learn from those parts of the globe that just get on and do it. The High Growth Foundation, founded in the North will lead the charge on encouraging ambitious individuals to release their full potential.

Building on success to date, we will be setting up the HGF in Silicon Valley and encouraging best practice exchange, collaboration and business development. The future of the UK economy depends so heavily on high growth businesses, to get more of them we need a catalyst – hopefully the HGF will demonstrate just what is possible ! Watch this space.

http://www.highgrowthfoundation.co.uk – this Friday


10,000 Small Businesses – Last Night

21/09/2011

I was delighted to part of last nights Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses celebration and first cohort graduation event. The results and growth achieved from the participating companies was very impressive to say the least. As usual I was observing what happens when a room full of ambitious entrepreneurs get together to network and share ideas and experiences – this is were real business advice takes place, in communities of like-minded individuals. The stimulus and input from other successful, been there done it, businessmen and women should not be underestimated either.

When ambitious people get together to share the pain and stories, remarkable things happen:

– The feeling of loneliness is less profound

– You get new ideas and different perspectives to take your business forward

– You get to hear about trusted advisers and networks relevant to your business

– You become introduced to new potential customers and collaborators

– Answers to challenges present themselves

– Your mind gets refreshed

– When you see others doing well you end up running faster!

These environments help to raise the bar of personal performance, training with the best is a very effective way to improve.

Congratulations to MMU on their facilitation of the activity and I am really chuffed to being part of this activity going forward. A great example of how public and private sector collaboration is the answer to growing new business talent.