Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneur’

2017 Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

 

I have had the great pleasure this year participating as a judge for the UK’s 2017 UK National Business Awards. The panel, some of the most impressive figures in UK industry and private equity, recently met with 11 inspiring entrepreneurs to determine the 2017 Inflexion Private Equity Entrepreneur of the Year. While you will have to wait until November for the announcement of the winner, here are some traits of “The Exceptional Entrepreneur”:

  • Self-determined. They don’t rely on others largesse to achieve success. They don’t bemoan their fate, they seek quick ways to change course. They believe their destiny is their own hands, their success is largely a function of applying their own skills and judgement to overcome foreseen and unforeseen obstacles.
  • Enthusiastic. They have tremendous passion and love what they do but most importantly they don’t allow that enthusiasm to evolve into blind zeal. Where zealots are motivated to solely convert others to their way of thinking, they are willing to find compromise where it allows them to accelerate towards their goals.
  • Intellectually curious. They are fast, mobile and quick to react to or even better anticipate competitive trends. The depth and breadth of their intellectual curiosity has enabled them to become people of interest to a diverse audience.
  • Flexible. They are focused on outputs not inputs and willing to switch paths at very short notice. Recognising that their success is not predicated on sticking to pre-conceived ideas rather their awareness of changing customer and market needs.
  • Time and awareness. They know where they are precisely in terms of the evolution of their business and the change agents impacting their markets. Such that they find it easy to make smart decisions today about the future.
  • Clear purpose for their wealth. They have a belief system that easily reconciles the differences between the utility of the financial, intellectual, social and cultural wealth they have created for themselves and their key constituents. While money is important, it is seen merely as the fuel for the life they choose to live.
  • Empathetic. Their emotional stimulae are acutely tuned to the needs of the people around them and the structured and unstructured situations that they find themselves in. Such that they seek to earn others respect ahead of being liked.
  • Stature. What others see, not what they hear or what they read, commands instant respect. They possess an inner confidence that in the company of others, draws people to them and to want to engage with them on a variety of issues, beyond their domain expertise. It has nothing to do with their physical size, how loud they shout or how deliberately they flaunt their success. They are not a “one trick pony”.
  • Time is a priority, not a resource issue. They possess both routine and exceptional discipline and organisation, which enables them to create speed. Priorities are quickly determined and actioned. They don’t procrastinate, nor do they waste time on irrelevant tasks and activities. Nor do they over-staff their businesses.
  • Ego and Resilience. They have learned to “park” their ego. They accept that they will both win and lose on their entrepreneurial journey but the result will never will impact their own opinion of themselves. Such that in defeat they are able to rebound quickly and figure out the best way to achieve that.
  • See the funny side of life. They are able to be both a gracious winner and a gracious loser. To laugh in equal measure at their good fortune and their bad luck. Their default position is to improve the situation, keep smiling and institutionalise the learning, not to seek blame in a crisis. Knowing that is what it is expected of them as a leader.

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Warning Light!

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

 

When an entrepreneur or his/her Adviser overlook or cannot clearly articulate in 3 or 4 sentences, the greatest anticipated weaknesses in their business growth plans (markets, products, technology and relationships) given competitive market trends, you have a plan that won’t survive serious investor scrutiny. To pretend otherwise is to start driving a car where the wheel nuts lie strewn on the ground.

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Chasing An Entrepreneur’s Dream

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

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I ‘ve had a 40 year passion for the sport of horse racing, in particular national hunt or steeplechase racing. The global heartbeat of the sport lies in Ireland, UK and France. For four days in March, the very best horses and horsemen gather in a natural amphitheatre in the Cotswolds, 100 miles west of London, to compete for 28 races and prize money totalling £5 million. Cheltenham is Glastonbury, Burning Man and the Mid-Autumn Festival wrapped up in a visceral connection with a sport that breaks hearts and delights in equal measure. 260,000 racegoers passed through the gates last week, a great many Irish, to bet, roar approval and dance the night away in the local inns and hostelries until dawn. Male and female, men of the clergy, the soil and the City, grandparents telling tales of old to the young, and the carefree exhibiting their party tricks to any willing audience. Year after year, it is a rite of passage to have “done Cheltenham” from Roscommon to Newbury.

Yet behind this beguiling sport and its’ pinnacle, lies a modern story applicable to any growth business or industry, a tale of a sport where the elite level has created a gargantuan gulf between itself and the rest of the sport (Formula One, America’s Cup). Resilience, separates those who thrive from those who merely survive or throw it in.

Billionaire and multi-millionaire owners, who are willing to satiate their passion “blowing” £10 million a year after-tax in the hope of their horses achieving glory, albeit with zero residual value. Gucci-loafer clad bloodstock agents, trainers, jockeys and vets only too happy to help.

Dramatic scientific and technological improvements (breeding, procurement, nutrition, strength and conditioning) over the past 25 years have enabled the very best trainers to create very powerful systems, backed up by dominant levels of financial capital. Competition at the elite level, will always be sustained because the nature of animals racing against each other and jumping 20 fences is not an exact science. Yet many of those in the “squeezed” middle and the lower rungs of the sport complain that their businesses are near, or at breaking point. The patronage of five powerful men has created a concentration of power and influence in the hands of a very small pool of horsemen. They are paying for glory, the big race winners. Success has bred success and breaking into the chosen clique has become extremely difficult.

Yet there is no shortage of young aspiring horsemen willing to go “all in” chasing their dreams of breeding, selling, training or riding a big race winner. Their passion is such that just like a jobbing Hollywood “runner”, they are willing to embrace the 85 hour working week on a very modest wage, and menial tasks, to work their way up the ladder. Most won’t make it, some will leave the sport with their ego dented and in good health, others won’t be so lucky, retired jockeys with broken bodies, and “burnt out” trainers with deep levels of personal debt. The sport has an incredible level of camaraderie and philanthropy, largely hidden offers of future employment, re-training or housing. It is a sport where attendance at church in the major training centres on a Sunday remains exceedingly high. Thankful for the good life, if not the good luck.

It is a sport like many industries that takes no prisoners, where no one is guaranteed success, billionaire or horse groom. It teaches us that resilience, resilient people and resilient support systems (family, friends and mentors) are key when chasing our passion and ideal career.

The black days, for they will come as certain as the sun will rise over Cheltenham’s Cleave Hill in March 2018. The hopes of many resting precariously on the back of a four-legged animal jig jogging to the start, thousands disappearing into the satchels of on-course bookies pitched in a fierce four-day battle with punters and a great many in the game, acutely aware that fate may deal them a glorious hand or consign them to the “has-been” tray forever. As entrepreneurs, we take many of the same risks and experience similar highs and lows, yet by and large, we are only humbled by defeat if we choose that pathway. Yet, we too must be realistic about the nature of our business, our ideal future and the growth journey we choose. It is great to dream but without resilience, talent and discipline, we won’t get there.  Are you willing to bet sufficiently big on yourself?

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

An Interview With Me From MainStreet

Friday, December 19th, 2014

MainStreet’s reporter Juliette Fairley, interviews James about the “hot” payroll sector and the logic and emotions driving entrepreneurs to start new businesses:

“Here’s Why Millenial CEOs Find Opportunity and Profit Launching Payroll Start-Ups”

http://www.mainstreet.com/article/heres-why-millennial-ceos-find-opportunity-and-profit-launching-payroll-start-ups