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Jo Geraghty

Director

Don’t kill your entrepreneurial spirit

Date added: 14th Feb 2017
Category: SMEs / Entrepreneurs

Top tips for entrepreneurs who are looking to take their business to the next level

In 2014 the Manufacturer website posted an article entitled “Are we still a nation of inventors and innovators?” [1] Marking the beginning of the 2014 Manufacturing, Science and Technology week, the article rather worryingly highlighted public perception of UK invention and innovation as a phase confined to history.

 In a strange way it is our very success as innovators that contributes to this perception. In school we are taught about the great inventions of the past such as the steam engine but as the world becomes more homogenised, less is made of the UK’s current position at the cutting edge of innovation. Perhaps that’s not surprising; when organisations collaborate freely across a global marketplace people are more likely to accept a product rather than query its origin.

 Perception or not, the entrepreneurial spirit is still very much alive and flourishing within the UK. At the end of December 2016 there were more than 3.5million companies registered in the UK, an increase of some 200,000 on the previous year. [2] And these figures don’t even include the numerous unincorporated entities such as those who are self-employed; estimated in November 2016 [3] to amount to some 4.77 million (equating to 15% of the workforce).

 Whilst some new businesses will stay at the micro level, delivering great products or services which perfectly match their clients’ requirements; other entrepreneurs will look to grow in order to take their offering to a wider marketplace. Ironically it can be this very expansion which sows the seeds for a business’s downfall. Somehow the entrepreneurial spirit which burns bright and delivers great innovation and customer service at the micro level can be extinguished when others are brought into the fold.

 But it doesn’t have to be like this! Some of the greatest innovation success stories of our time have grown from entrepreneurial micro businesses. So what are the top tips for entrepreneurs who are looking to take their business to the next level?

  • Leadership matters. Look towards the practices of exemplary leaders as identified by The Leadership Challenge™. Your role as entrepreneurial leader is to model the way but it is also to inspire, to enable and to encourage in order that your people become fully engaged with the culture and spirit of the organisation.
  • Choose wisely. When businesses look to expand the chances are that they have already gone beyond the capacity of the current workforce. The temptation therefore is to employ the most qualified person on paper. That way lies danger; the best on paper is not always the best for the company. Qualifications don’t equal ability and even if someone comes well recommended from another firm they may well have built their reputation based on the infrastructure and support which surrounded them. So take your time and choose wisely.  The search may take longer but success comes from hiring someone who is in tune with the cultural aims and values of the organisation and who can bring something to enhance the business.
  • Delegate and trust. When you’ve got your new person and you have taken time to bring them into the fold trust your judgement in hiring them in the first place. Delegate and empower them to carry out their role, encourage initiative and treat failure and setbacks as a learning point.
  • No one is an island so the saying goes and successful entrepreneurs look to collaborate with any individual or organisation who is likely to enhance the innovation potential of the business. In this don’t neglect your customers who naturally have a stake in your business success as they look to purchase products or services. Sometimes they know your business almost better than you do.

Above all: plan.  Organic growth sounds great but without a guiding hand it can become unwieldy and chaotic. You are already an entrepreneur, you are already an innovator; take that knowledge and use it to grow your business as you would grow a product. Understand what the marketplace is looking for in terms of an expanded organisation and then develop the solution which will enable you to deliver success.

[1] http://www.themanufacturer.com/articles/are-we-still-a-nation-of-inventors-and-innovators/

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/incorporated-companies-in-the-uk-october-to-december-2016/incorporated-companies-in-the-uk-october-to-december-2016

[3] https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/dec2016

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