22/09/2011

By Robin Crumby, executive director and co-founder, Melcrum

Most owner managers of businesses I meet tend to agree that when it comes to growth, entrepreneurs are their own worst enemies. In fact, the same skills and behaviours that got their businesses off the ground in the first place can quickly become a block to their further development.

At the Seven Pillars of a Better Business event held by Your Business Your Future, in conjunction with Fresh Business Thinking, at Cass Business School in early September, Gerard Burke and his team brought together a fantastic line up of entrepreneurs and owner managers who have been there, done that and shared their lessons learned.

The day was built around the 'Seven Pillars’, the seven characteristics that seem to distinguish those owner managers who build better businesses from those that don’t. We heard from Lara Morgan, founder of Pacific Direct, a business she sold for £20m, Lyn Cecil, CEO of Secretaries Plus and star of Channel 4’s ‘The Secret Millionaire’ and Tristram Mayhew, treetop adventure-seeker and founder of Go Ape, winner of the Small to Medium Sized Business of the Year at the National Business Awards in 2009.

What the speakers had in common was the ability to articulate a compelling vision and future for their businesses which engages and inspires their teams. Each of them has been successful by being clear about what they want and setting their businesses up to deliver those things.

It became clear that, for their businesses to grow, each of them had learned to evolve their roles, delegate day-to-day management to others and focus their energies on the things they enjoyed and which added value. In many cases, they'd successfully made the transition from 'hero' to 'strategist'.

While this transition is easy to describe and to recognise, it's far from easy to make - as some of the startlingly honest exchanges on panel sessions revealed! Many of us, myself included, acknowledged the dangers of reverting to type, fire-fighting and meddling when things don’t go to plan.

As Nick Badman, Chair of the Peter Cullum Centre for Entrepreneurship said in his opening address, small growing businesses are absolutely key to the UK’s economic growth. By investing in themselves and developing their teams, owner managers will grow their businesses, create jobs and get Britain working again.


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