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I would say yes it's a tough environment to be in but I think if you, as an entrepreneur, understand your business, focus on what is core.
I would say love your customers, really understand how they tick so you can retain them. You get referrals from them, you have a passion, you hire the best people possible.
Understand your financials, I always say cash is king, we all know that but also communicate. It's not only about sales, it's about profit.
Also this area at this current time also gives opportunities because hiring people, there are some great people maybe at the moment available who you can bring in your business.
But it's not only important to bring them in but also to grow them and to offer them a path within the company. I could give you some more examples, I think what we do at Cranfield in terms of tips and why is it a tough climate, is you need to be decisive.
I always say we all have a lot of pet projects, especially entrepreneurs, so we call this drowning the puppy. So in the current climate you can't afford to have a lot of pet projects so you need to identify those which are core to the business and drown the other puppies so to move forward.
There is a big difference, there is a big difference because you walk in a room now and people know of you. Before, you'd walk in a room and people would like... they might know you, they might not know you but only through introductions.
I walk in a business meeting now or a business room now and it's like oh yeah that's Colin he won all those entrepreneur awards last year.
So it gives you that bit of negotiating power as well, and I guess belief in the business BetterBathrooms and the belief in you as an individual to back you.
So much so, because we've done so successful as a business, we've just done an equity release deal, so we've just got an injection of a lot of money, I can't comment on until after Sunday because Sunday papers hopefully will be publishing.
But the whole thing brought together and it's, like I say, it's been an amazing 12 months.
At Cranfield School of Management, and particular in the Batton Centre for entrepreneurship, we have a remit really of four parts.
One is we do research in areas related to entrepreneurship, we teach on graduate programmes to help MBAs to start businesses.
But then maybe more importantly, especially to this audience, we work with ambitious owner managers to help them grow their business and take it to the next level. The last aspect we're involved with is events such as Cranfield Venture Day which is an event for ambitious owner managers and investors to come together and exchange best practice.
I think learning, especially as an entrepreneur is essential. We always say as an entrepreneur come back, learn, improve, reflect, and in the current business climate where companies are challenged, to learn from other industries, other sectors I think will help to take the business to face the challenges and take the business to the next level.
I've had another Sky interview and a few more BBC Radio interviews but also because of winning entrepreneur of the year you get other opportunities. So I'm involved in the tenner campaign which is a government backed campaign where we give £10 to students at high school and they basically use that £10 to buy a product and resell it.
And this is something that's rolled out nationally.
So I went to a school in Manchester and worked with their students and it was amazing, like you're talking about 11, 12, 13 year olds who were thinking like entrepreneurs, they were really into it. I guess the Apprentice TV thing's really helped that. So I've been involved in that project, I've been involved in other charity stuff.
So it's just allowed me to get to another level for people to actually recognise that actually this guy's quite good at business and not only that, if this kid at 32 years of age can do all of this I wonder if he can share that knowledge.
So I've actually got involved in a few other things since then, a few other businesses and I'm mentoring someone now who's 21 years of old who's the next, in my opinion, the next super geek and he doesn't mind me saying that.
I'm a bit of a geek myself. So it's been an amazing journey this last year.
I think there is some intuition there, I think entrepreneurs are very good at spotting an opportunity, identifying it.
But I think what's important... and I think luck comes to the hard working. I think what's really important is to make a plan.
So for entrepreneurs I always say as a recommendation is you need to have a clear vision and a purpose which you communicated to your staff.
Planning helps, we've done some research on that aspect as well showing that those entrepreneurs who plan actually grow in terms of number of staff and turnover.
So I would say if you can do some planning go ahead do so, intuition will take you so far but in order to specially scale the business and have sustainable growth you need to have processed as people and your leadership style into place that will sustain that in the longer term.
So you're not only the one horse pony who has one great veer but can sustain that in the long term.
I think it has offered a lot of opportunities. I mean when we look back, 1998 Google was only set up.
I mean LinkedIn, Twitter is only recent phenomenon we have. Personally I think there's great opportunities in terms of reaching your customers, reaching clients whether it's B to B, B to C.
But I always think there's also... the world's become more visible so maybe things you got away with in the past is no longer possible.
So I think my view is using social media is a great way of promoting your business but also keep aware of social media also comes with potential pitfalls if you don't use it in the right way.
Entrepreneurial spirit will be portrayed in various parts of a persons character. In this TV show Julie Meyer discusses persistence.
I’m fairly good at picking up on how much steel somebody has in their spine. So, you can tell and it’s not just the level of intensity or the stare that they give you, it’s more you can kind of sense in how concerted an effort. People betray their level of persistence in many ways and I don’t know how, it’s almost like a neural network after you’ve done it for so long. But you can kind of sense whether somebody’s going to pull through, for example, with Alastair Lukies of Monitise there’s just something that I felt about him that he was extraordinary and exceptional. And, you know, when he got his first client he secured the first client and he sent me a text message, it was like a Friday night in 2006. And I remember getting a text message that said, you know, 106 meetings, 76 nights away from my wife, but we have a client today. And, you know, that’s irrational, that’s obsessive behaviour. Normal people do not do that, normal people don’t just keep on going. Now, he wasn’t just banging his head against the wall, what he was doing was constantly learning, constantly retargeting, adjusting. And so the man is extremely smart, which is why Monitise is doing, you know, Monitise will be one of the most important companies ever to have been founded in the United Kingdom. But it takes an irrational level of persistence. And I think I’m pretty good at figuring out whether somebody is up for that.There are many more great videos about entrepreneurial spirit and business success on Inside Finance. Look out for more briefings on the subject.