London Business Village at British Library, Global Entrepreneurship Week

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.

Left to right: Charlie Mullins, Dermott Rowan, Orla Kiely, Matthew Rock, Sam Hargreaves, Stephen Fears

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.