By Paola Bassanese
“Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest campaign to promote entrepreneurship, taking place in 115 countries. The campaign takes place 12-18 November.”
Hosted by the Business & IP Centre at the British Library in partnership with Youth Business International and Barclays, the London Business Village started on 12th November 2012 as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (hashtag #BLGEW on twitter) showcases the best in British business with fantastic speakers who run successful businesses.
These hard-working, high-achieving individuals shared their precious industry knowledge to inspire the current and next generation of entrepreneurs (4-14 year olds included, with a clear message for parents to encourage entrepreneurship).
With so much to content covered in one day (and with more seminars at British Library to follow, which unfortunately I won’t be able to attend), I can only summarise the key messages of each presentation in bullet point form.
In addition to the day event, there was an evening Q&A session entitled Inspiring Entrepreneurs – Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2012 which was available as a webcast. Panel members were:
- Charlie Mullins, Pimlico Plumbers
- Dermott Rowan, Orla Kiely
- Orla Kiely, Orla Kiely
- Matthew Rock, Real Business
- Sam Hargreaves, Gadgets4Everyone
- Stephen Fear, The Fear Group
Let’s now look at the speakers from the day event.
Lessons from the speakers
1 Ajaz Ahmed, AKQA, interviewed by Mike Southon, The Beermat Entrepreneur
- Look out for “saints” or mentors who can turbo-charge your business and give you advice and insight.
- Always trust your gut instinct.
- Focus on your company’s values and ethics: your values will make clients come back to you and refer you to other clients through word of mouth. Values are timeless.
- Keep your equity: run your business with enough cash to make it grow.
2 Rodger Seaman and Richard Weaver from Advantage Business Partners
- Buyers may dictate the rules, but you are in charge of the negotiations, don’t be a doormat (or a bully).
- Knowledge is power – clients buy into your expertise.
- Selling may seem difficult at the start, but it will get better the more you do it.
- Aim to do your follow ups within a week or you’ll miss the chance to be remembered.
- Never become complacent and ask for feedback from your customers.
- Referrals can make up to 75% of new business so focus your business development activities on nurturing your existing clients.
- Pay your suppliers on time: it can give you extra leverage in the future (eg discounts).
3 Michael Korn, KwickScreen; Jim Shaikh, Yoomi; Matthew Rock, Real Business Magazine
- Business awards can be useful to an entrepreneur in many ways: they may have some prize money to give a timely cash injection; they can generate media coverage; they give access to a network of powerful individuals; they provide an opportunity for self-improvement (showcasing your achievements).
- Identify an award that is relevant to your industry and do not apply for too many awards (it’s extremely time consuming and expensive). You have a business to run after all.
- Never take awards for granted: if you don’t win it’s not the end. Think about the networking opportunities instead.
- Measure the results of getting an award, you must get a tangible return.
4 Cate Trotter, Insider Trends
- Step back from your business to look at the big picture: what is going on in your industry and around the world in order to make better business decisions.
- You can achieve a 15-35% increase in profits if you are good at spotting trends.
- Ask questions, collect and connect data to find links.
- Immerse yourself in information, especially trade journals and statistical reports.
- The earlier you can get involved in a new trend, the larger the market share you will own.
- Beware of the hype: some trends never become real market opportunities.
5 Michael Jacobsen
- Creative businesses add to the cultural fabric of the country.
- Build your personal advisory board with experts from the industry.