Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Read about and learn from other entrepreneurs

I read as much as I can about other entrepreneurs, how they made their money, their successes and their mistakes. You don't have to learn everything that you do from first-hand experience. If someone else has got burnt, then you can take from their experience and ensure that you don't get burnt - you don't have to bear all the scars yourself! I once worked for a manager that wanted to learn everything herself. She was new to the role and needed the experience, but the store had gone through several issues with shoplifting and definition of roles and had worked through it. We then had to start again, as the new manager undid a great deal of progress to establish their own thought process on the team. She went through the same problems that everyone else in the store had a year before. She eventually bore the scars herself and made all the changes that she had undone. The store is now back where it was in terms of roles and security measures, but with a lot more disruption and unhappiness than could have been. If only she had listened to experienced members of the team and trusted that the decisions made before were made for a reason.

I have just read this BBC article about The Range owner Chris Dawson-


and there is some interesting reading here about what he considers his successful moves. There are several areas where he compares the fine line between a risk and an opportunity. I suppose if these single decisions went the other way then he may not be looking at The Sunday Times Rich List and an estimated fortune of over £1 billion. Now entrepreneurs will have to take risks at several points throughout their journey, but with the amount of information out there today, the analysis of this risk and the data available to predict certain outcomes will take the blindness out of the decision. The BBC have broken down his "career" into several stages-

  • Jumble sale dealer
  • Scrap metal dealer
  • Street trading
  • First shops
  • Takeovers
But his real rise came from the last period - the takeovers and deals with failing retailers and their administrators.  Now the groundwork before have given him the opportunity to make those deals, but that's when the expansion from success to billionaire happened.

What's in it for me?
As with all these stories, I am interested in what I can learn from this and where it can make my business successful.  There are two main learnings from this short article.  The first is the fact that when you have a potential opportunity you must take it.  Now this sounds simple in theory, but in practice there is a difference.  When you see the opportunity, you must quickly weigh it up, use your experience, trust your instinct, do your analysis and make that decision.  The second is that you don't have to be every part of the business yourself.  By his own admission, Chris Dawson can't merchandise and he claims to be virtually illiterate but he has been hugely successful.  Now he must have surrounded himself with good merchandisers, a good solicitor for the amount of deals he has struck and other people that can excel in the parts of the business that he doesn't.  Once you have recruited these people, trained them and made them aware of the expectations then you need to trust them to get on with the job you have recruited them for and let them succeed for you.

Not everything can be bought on the High Street - Glorious MP3 from Amazon

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