Businesses often start with a personal calling

19/08/2014

It never ceases to amaze me how passionate and animated entrepreneurs become when they talk about their business and what they do. To those listening it can come across as “in your face”, however, the reality is, most founders are just so proud of what they have achieved. Business and personal time are inextricably linked, feeding each off every minute of the day.

The successful high growth entrepreneurs I have worked with often started their business because of a “calling” – this means putting something right, fixing a problem, chasing a dream of freedom, pursue a passion, wanting to make a difference or proving to others they can achieve something quite amazing.

So many entrepreneurs often forget that their business is also an asset with value. The danger is when the founders view their company solely as an asset. This creates inward focused strategies, lack of customer focus, greed, ultimately this will lead to only one place  – a disconnection with the real world and decline. My advice is when the voice of the “calling” gets overshadowed by the asset, its time for a rethink. A danger zone is just around the corner. Its about balance, of course a business must generate wealth, however it works far better and in my view becomes more profitable when its game plan is linked to a purpose.

The feeling of doing what you do because it makes a difference to others is probably one of the best you can have in your career, long may it last!


The markets – a focal point for enterprise

22/01/2013

When we hear about the power of the markets most people think about  the London or New York Stock Exchanges. Well for me it means something very different – it relates to the place where enterprise and entrepreneurial flair truly flourishes, thrives and can be viewed real-time.

Great examples are Camden Market the fourth-most popular visitor destination in London, attracting approximately 100,000 people each weekend or closer to my heart, The World Famous Bury Market, (champion of the North), pulling through 250,000 visitors every week. These are places where you can observe people doing deals and more importantly learn the art of negotiation, people skills, having banter, conversations, fun and ultimately a sale getting done with money changing hands! Market trading has been massively overlooked as the training ground for entrepreneurs. I am convinced that Rodney and Del Boy in the 1980’s and 90’s in Only Fools and Horses inspired a whole new generation of value creators and employers.

The markets for me truly brings to life what business is all about – someone having something to sell and punters wanting to buy. This market trading teaches us the power of :

– the need to sell so that the rent gets paid

– having conversations with customers and enjoy a laugh

– doing a deal and making someone feel special

– making customers smile and feel good

– customer satisfaction such that they come back week after week

A day on the markets teaches us so much about business and enterprise. I speak from the heart, over 20 years ago when my family was getting bigger and bigger – a wage just was not enough. Other sources of income were needed to pay for the food and basic needs. The inspiration came from antiques markets (Lovejoy for those of you old enough to remember) where every Sunday I saw people trading in pictures, furniture and other collectibles. It inspired me to have a go.

My passion for contemporary art led me to start dealing on the markets, taking a stall and trading. I learnt so much – how to deal with people and how to give them something they wanted. I made a profit they got a deal – win – win. The training ground proved so powerful, this market trader mentality gave me so much insight into the world of commerce and business. The profit I made helped to pay the mortgage, provide for my three daughters and for me and my wife, Wendy, it was a great laugh giving us so many memories to look back on.

The markets have an important role to play in promoting enterprise and entrepreneurial behaviour – let’s make the most of them. For the masses FTSE100 and NASDAQ means nothing other than smoke and mirrors.