My professional life has been, and will be, devoted to entrepreneurs. I’ve learnt to be one (perversely I was born an accountant and learned to be an entrepreneur), I’ve learnt from them, and now I also spend time teaching them.
So I was looking forward to the Entrepreneur Country (“EC”) conference last week. Sadly, although I made some new contacts and re-engaged with Shirlaws, I was disappointed by the content.
- There were a few people who thought that I wanted to know how successful they had been;
- Julie Meyer launched EC International to foster entrepreneurialism worldwide (catching up with the Institute of Physicists who have been doing this for years with Richard Brooks); and
- A keynote speech from George Freeman MP stated his intent to put business, wealth creation and entrepreneurialism at the heart of the UK’s economic and political life.
I don’t disagree with their intent and I have no doubt that they are successful, but the slides didn’t match the talks, the talks didn’t match the subjects and the subjects didn’t amount to a theme.
Contrast that with a Speaker Boutique event run by the Supper Club of which I am a member, and now a proud member. To be in the Supper Club you need to be of a certain size (£2m+ I think) and average turnover is now £15m so this is no group of wannabes. Still searching for the elusive “growth elixir” I listened to three clearly presented talks on what is needed to build a high growth culture. What wasn’t clear to me was how working internally, creating a culture of growth, fun, achievement and responsibility produced high growth in sales.
So I asked John Readman of Search Laboratories this question. And then the penny dropped: if you say what it is that you (are going to) do and do it well, then you will grow exceptionally fast. Why? Because “well” is a high hurdle, and hurdling it marks you out from your competitors, but is all that we ask as customers/clients. We don’t complain about lack of perfection just about stuff that is less than good. Even “quite good” is accompanied by an expression or implication of dissatisfaction.
When I go to M&S and find that I can’t use the self-checkout until they have weighed the bags I have brought with me, when I hear potential Prime Ministers suggest that price-fixing will actually make us better off, and when I still can’t turn scroll lock off on my iMac because the help facility isn’t…..well you know the rest, then I can see that not everyone “gets” this.
But I do, and I hope you do too. After sending this out, my next task is to work out how to embed “good” as the benchmark in FD Solutions and HR Director Solutions. We’re not bad, we satisfy many, sometimes we’re excellent and we have awards to prove it. But we’re not growing as fast as we could and I shan’t rest until we do. If you have any suggestions I’d welcome them.
If I fail I guess I’ll have to get a job elsewhere: in Sainsbury’s hopefully.