Why is entrepreneurship so important in the world right now?
It’s a great question. I’ve campaigned for entrepreneurship all my long working life. I’m a great supporter of it at any time, but I think right now, it’s more important than it’s ever been – because I think even the safest job is at risk.
We’ve had a lot of jobs at risk through changing times and tech and automation. And now we’ve had the pandemic as well, which is in the process of putting a lot of companies out of business. I don’t think anybody’s job is safe anymore. You know, those days of us leaving a school at 16 and signing up in our local bank for life are long gone.
Even a side hustle is some way of actually recession-proofing yourself and getting some security – taking some control back in your life. So, I think that’s really important on the one hand.
Secondly, I think it’s hugely important because as companies are going, who else is going actually to create new jobs, but entrepreneurs who are growing? It’s the cycle.
“There is financial security in having your own business. And, while your business may be struggling, when you’re an entrepreneur, you run the ship. You have the choice of how you adapt to that struggle and what you do next – versus being at the whim of a job that is no longer necessary and trying to figure out what to do next.”
Even if you’ve got a struggling business, you’ve got several choices. You can open a second one and see if that takes off more. As you say, the choices live much more with you.
“Entrepreneurship is really the pathway to innovation, change, and solving the problems we have because entrepreneurs are willing to explore those ideas.”
What are the constants that companies still need to do to grow in current times?
I’m a salesperson at heart. And, while I picked five things, my number one has to be sales – because, without sales, you haven’t got a business. It’s as simple as that. You’ve got to have sales.
My second choice would be marketing and nailing your marketing differential. At any time, getting the marketing differential is essential, but in tough times, it’s obviously more so. It’s really vital. You need to stand out from the crowd.
The third one would be nailing the right team. Again, because the wrong people can destroy your business, but the right people can make your business unbeatable. So, that right team is crucial at all times.
Then I would pick systems because as you grow, you’re going to need systems and paperwork in place, and a lot of entrepreneurs glaze over that one. But there are probably people in your business, even if you can’t do it yourself, that actually enjoyed that side of things. So getting systems in place is crucial for any business to stabilize it.
The last one, and this is easy to lose sight of, is to concentrate on profit, not growth. In that, because we get swept up in this idea of “I’m going to get 30% bigger next year,” and 30% bigger can be 30% worse off. If you’re in business, it comes down to profit and not size, and I think that’s an essential thing to remember.
“If you don’t focus on profit, you can grow and not actually create a better business for yourself, your employees, or even the people you serve.”
One of the things that fascinated me was the differential. I think there’s a big split, which has come about from a change in the amount of money invested or available to startups.
Many of the more experienced entrepreneurs are quite anti the idea of too much money being available too quickly. They feel that there’s no substitute for experience. And drip-feeding or bootstrapping is really a good thing to do, or can be a good thing to do.
Yet the younger ones say, “Oh, well, you know, I’m building a huge tech business.” So I think there’s a disparity of generations going on at the moment. And as yet, we’ve got no data available proving that massively funded businesses are actually grossing profit. So when’s it going to get to the size that it’s actually profitable? At what size is it going to be a market winner potentially? How much money are you going to chuck at something before it becomes profitable?
It needs to be a balance of drip-feeding so that you’re not perpetually distracted or worried and climbing walls about money, but also so you’re not flooded and boring for no good reason.
What do growing companies need to do differently to survive current times?
I think a lot of it comes down to team care and team contact. But I think, speaking to experts recently, many companies are assuming that means they need to speak to that team over time. And that can be very easily misconstrued as checking up on people. Whereas what teams really miss is not their managers, but they actually miss each other.
So, enabling people to spend a certain amount of time working in teams, be it through Google Meets or whatever is needed. Some people are naturally solitary, but the people who need it – need it really badly.
Companies need to encourage that feeling of being part of something. If people can see each other, it really makes an enormous difference.
As a business, you can cultivate this, and it will help your team be more productive. This will help your team be whole human beings.
3 Action Steps
1. Recognize that no job is safe, but as an entrepreneur, you control your future.
2. Pay attention to sales, marketing, establishing a strong team, systems, and profits.
3. Allow your team to interact with one another so that they can maintain that connection.
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