Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurs’

Entrepreneur’s Legacy

Monday, October 29th, 2018

It is not what wealth you acquire that matters (Sir Philip Green), it is how you contribute to the world we live in (Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha).

Entrepreneur Blindspots

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

Who get’s my time and interest? Two exploratory conversations with contrasting entrepreneurs with high-growth businesses this week. 

Entrepreneur A: “Let me show you my powerpoint presentation.” Five minutes later in response to what are you seeking to accomplish and where might I be immediately helpful, “I am just looking for money, I don’t need anything else.”

Entrepreneur B: “Let me tell you where I am at with my business, where I’d ideally like to be in future and what I am needing to change including raising new money.” After ten minutes of discourse and accepted vulnerability, “I’d be interested in your advice for me.”

As investors we want confident, not humble entrepreneurs. We want entrepreneurs with high levels of self-worth and a willingness to be vulnerable. To voluntarily admit weakness and display smart judgement.

We don’t want defensive entrepreneurs or those, who seek to excessively control our view into their business. Entrepreneurs don’t have to be transparent, translucent will do fine. When your use of powerful language, social skills, and intellect is obscured from us, little wonder investors move on.  

Here is my observation: have you adapted your behaviour to the life you now lead (entrepreneur), or insist on behaving as you learned to do in a former life as a former Citi banker, BCG consultant or CEO of a global company? 85% of the first-time entrepreneurs I meet persist in behaving as they have in their prior life with one obvious exception. Money. They happily claim poverty “I am not in the position I was….” at the mere mention of paying for advice. When the reality is they remain in the top 2% of the nation’s wealthiest people.  It is simply not credible. 

In Good Company

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

If you are an entrepreneur wanting to attract the highest quality investors,  people, business partners and so forth, think about the company you are keeping. Am I spending time with gatekeepers, window shoppers or real buyers/investors of my product, service and relationships? Does the event or platform put me in rarefied company or am I circling around with a largely undifferentiated crowd? Will my presence and affiliation with the audience dramatically build my brand or have a negligible impact?     

Where is the hard evidence or observed behaviour to validate my judgement?

It is myth that any “exposure” is a valuable use of our time. That is rubbish. If you are not in front of a high proportion of your target audience, decline the invite with a simple “No”. You don’t need to explain yourself, you do need to avoid wasting time talking to the wrong people.

Lloyds Bank UK National Business Awards 2018 

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

  

Inflexion Private Equity’s UK Entrepreneur of The Year Award Jury 

James Berkeley

I am delighted to be returning for a second year to participate in the UK’s pre-eminent national business awards, as a judge with 12 fabulous nominees.  In my experience, there are 12 traits that inform the “complete entrepreneur”. Here is three of my favourites:

  1. Self-determined. They do not rely on “handouts” from others to achieve success and they realise they can control their own destiny. 
  2. Wealth perspective. They realise that money is the fuel for their dreams, not actual wealth, which includes freedom, independence and discretionary time to pursue interests that excite them.
  3. Presence. They immediately come across as socially adept and confident, not one dimensional. They are fun to be around, not a pain to hang out with. 

 

Actual “Skin In The Game”

Friday, July 27th, 2018

Having “skin in the game” as most people understand it, the amount of personal money at risk, is one of the biggest myths in private company investing. If you are willing to be intellectually honest, it is about the symmetry of risk and reward amongst the key constituents and the personal consequences for each individual after they are done with the investment. Specifically, putting your “neck on the line”, is the sum of four elements: “financial” (impact on personal/professional lifestyle choices), “intellectual” (trust in your intellect and talent), “social” (impact on family, friends, communities and so forth) and “cultural” (impact on the beliefs that inform your attitudes and behaviour). Work that out and you can really see what the actual alignment is, not what people say it is.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Killer Language For Entrepreneurs: Strengths

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

“Why are you smarter than your peers?” To know your unique strengths, to encapsulate them briefly in a powerful sentence or two, and to place them in the context of your audience’s immediate improvement, is a rare skill. 90% of responses from entrepreneurs are “weak”.

©  James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Snow Joke

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Climbing out of a snow drift back onto a piste for a first-time skier is hard if you have never done it before, “raising money” from investors is equally hard for a first-time entrepreneur or private equity manager if you have never done it before. I have helped tens of people with both challenges. Yet I run into smart people weekly, who have been a success in the past but refuse to act today like a success when it comes to investing in their own development.

The common factors for success are do you possess the requisite combination of skills, behaviours and expertise to accomplish your goal (climbing a mountain or raising a fund)? If not, can you find someone, who has successfully accomplished what you are seeking to do, and possesses the skills and volition in the real world to help translate and transfer their success to you (qualified expert)? If you can, hire them. If you cannot or even refuse, you are seeing the problem. The pathway is either excessively risky or ambiguous for even experienced individuals or your own behaviour is contributing to your difficulties. Which is it?

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Poverty Advice

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

There is a word for entrepreneurs and small advisory businesses that insist on only rewarding their employees with hard dollars for successful business they can touch, “sharks”. There is a word for employees, who voluntarily accept those terms, “plankton”. You might enjoy, as I do, recreational gambling (horses) for intellectual interest and fun but why would you commit to that bargain when seeking to feed your family? Unless of course, you enjoy living with a constant fear of falling over the cliff edge, are desperate or are merely seeking to find lifestyle work (substantial means). As an entrepreneur, why would you think that is a fast track to building a powerful, sustainable and profitable business? Clueless.

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Capital Reality

Friday, December 15th, 2017

I just finished reading a quite brilliant book, Lifestorming by Alan Weiss and Marshall Goldsmith. Marshall reminds the reader of one of his most powerful learning points from arguably one of the smartest minds over the past century, American businessman, Peter Drucker. I smiled when I reflected upon how frequently I am asked to correct this behaviour in my own work, particularly amongst entrepreneurs and private equity investors building businesses.

An excessive amount of time is wasted

  • Trying to prove how right we are (brilliant idea, investment decision-taking) and how good we are (vanity) with ourselves and our key constituents when the real objective should be to maximise the positive difference we are able to make in the life we choose to lead, and the world we live in.
  • Trying to control events or issues where we have ceded or have zero power over the outcome.

The private equity or venture investor doesn’t have to invest. The entrepreneur doesn’t have to accept the investment. When they do accept majority investment, the entrepreneur ceases to have the ultimate decision-making power. Don’t whine or somehow think you retain superpowers, you really don’t, concentrate on making a positive difference within those constraints. If you don’t like the constraints, let it go and move on. The same applies to capricious General Partners feeling that the private equity model is underappreciated in the wider world or when power has shifted from their investee businesses to their customers or competitors.

A case in point, yesterday’s headline sale to Disney of large chunks of the Murdoch empire, is just that recognition that the Murdochs cease to have the power to positively impact their family’s and their assets’ future within the constraints laid down (market competition). Letting go is a common sense response, nothing more.

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

UK National Business Awards 2017 Re-cap

Friday, November 17th, 2017

Brains, beauty and entrepreneurial endeavour were celebrated on a searingly loud night at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane, a passing resemblance to X Factor.

When “Lords, Ladies and commoners” were asked to take their seats, Sir Mo Farah burst onto the stage and broke the first royal protocol, telling us the private thoughts of The Queen at his knighthood ceremony earlier in the day. “Aren’t you retired?” Well not quite, we might see him on the final day in Tokyo 2020 chasing a marathon gold.

On a day that awards host, UBM, announced impressive half yearly figures, we learned the secret of their success, maximising profit per square foot. PR supremo and philanthropist, Charles Watson, media lawyer Mark Stephens (without his former WikiLeaks client, Julian Assange) and an eclectic crowd including me were squeezed onto a tiny table that resembled the docks at Sassoon Fish Market in Mumbai.

Three personal favourites among the tremendous British entrepreneurial success stories recognised on the night.

Bill Holmes and his business, Radius Payment Solutions, winner of the Inflexion Private Equity Entrepeneur of the Year Award (I was a judge this year). Chislehurst-born Bill has created a gargantuan global fuel card and telematics business – current sales close to £1.5 billion – over 25 years. He has given countless employees life experiences and wealth opportunities beyond their wildest dreams while being a huge benefactor for a multitude of community issues in the firm’s hometown, Crewe, in the UK’s northwest region. To top that he has brought up two wonderful daughters, who are in their early twenties are pursing their own passions with great success and energy.

Children’s food pioneer, Annabel Karmel who is a walking and talking example of taking a life-changing experience and doing something meaningful with it. Not content with being a celebrated author, adviser, marketeer and creator of innovative products, Annabel is set to bring healthy kids food and beverages to the Chinese. Having listened yesterday to Henrietta Lovell revealing the secrets of The Rare Tea Company’s marketing success selling tea to the Chinese – unprecedented trust and integrity – you would be brave to bet against Annabel doing the exact same thing.

At the other stage of entrepreneurial life, two family friends of mine, Sara and Maria Trechman, and their business, Well and Truly were winners of The Duke of York’s New Entrepreneur of The Year Award. Barely 1 year old, their business is creating amazing all natural snacks and is an object of huge interest amongst UK, and I confidently predict, global retailers. Perhaps The Duke had other priorities this week but I bet it won’t be long before he is looking for the glamorous photo opportunity (without the dodgy lighting). Well done too to my Aunt Alice, who had the fortitude to follow her instinct and back them in their first raise!

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.