21 August 2017

james timpson and lawrence jones ukfast entrepreneur day“Anyone can build a business from a laptop and an internet connection.”

Female Entrepreneur Association founder Carrie Green said this when I interviewed her for today’s podcast series. It’s true – anyone can set up a business. But, what does it take to make a business work?

As today is World Entrepreneur’s Day I have been working on a special series of vlogs and podcasts to share insight from some of Britain’s top entrepreneurs to find out what it takes to make it in the business world.

The common thread throughout the series? People. It’s fascinating to hear how different leaders describe the people around them and the influence that has one their business journeys…

Criticism should be kept in your pocket

One of my favourite pieces of advice in the series is from Sir Richard Branson. He says: “As a leader you have to look for the best in people. Criticism should be something that you keep in your pocket and bring out on a rare day.”

I have carried this advice with me throughout my business journey. Armed with the knowledge that people thrive under praise and wither under criticism, it is easier to keep your team motivated and be a great leader.

You can’t be a great entrepreneur without great people

When asked what the secret to his success is, entrepreneur and Jigsaw Medical CEO Chris Percival was very clear. Chris, who is just 25, has built a business from a car he converted into an ambulance with his student loan. It’s now on track to turn over £30 million next year.

He said: “Fundamentally it’s something we’ve said many times; it’s the people you employ. It’s hard to spend your time managing people who are not doing their jobs right. Instead we have directors who are doing the day-to-day running of the business much better than I did!”

As an entrepreneur it would be impossible to do everything and to be good at everything. This was echoed by James Timpson OBE, the chief executive of Timpson. James has grown the business from around 200 stores to almost 2000!

He said: “What I’ve learned is that we’re good at very few things in our business. The things that we are good at, we concentrate on that. The things that we aren’t good at, we either stop doing or we find someone else who’s much better at doing it and let them get on with it.”

James is an incredible advocate of empowering people to do extraordinary things. The culture in Timpson gives colleagues the ability to resolve customer service queries up to the value of £500 there and then. There’s no wonder their customer service is so highly rated.

I will be sharing insight from the podcast series throughout the week and beyond. I hope you pick up some useful information to help you along your business journey. If you have any questions that you’d like me or other entrepreneurs to answer, send them in the comments.

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