Last month, I attended the Dynamic Enterprise Summit and Round Tables in London hosted by London Loves Business. It was a pretty impressive line-up on the panel and speakers’ roster for the day including Pimlico Plumbers’ Charlie Mullins; Tim Weller, founder and CEO of Incisive Media and Simon Woodroffe, founder of Yo! Sushi and Yo! Hotels.
Two things really struck me from the panel discussions and presentations – the frankness of the entrepreneurs when discussing what they did right and wrong in their businesses, and the honesty with which the panel outlined the struggles they had had with their businesses over the years and how close some of them had come to the edge of collapse on one or two occasions in the past.
This transparency chimed with a comment I heard from Lord Bilimoria (of Cobra beer fame) on the Daily Politics show a few weeks back, who said that since launching Cobra beer, he’d had three occasions where he nearly lost the business and fought hard to pull it back on track. All of these revelations are at odds with the general perception of the successful, confident entrepreneur going from strength to strength.
I really welcome this frankness and honesty from entrepreneurs. I think it is part of the broader trend and desire for greater humanity and transparency in business – we see this movement growing every day here at AD Communications with our own clients and their customers too. And, it’s great for the new generations starting in business today and tomorrow to understand that the successful entrepreneurs they look up to are just like us and them; just as prone to self-doubt, struggles, mistakes and failure. What is common to them, however, is that they never give up; they keep fighting passionately, believing and finding other routes to the same goal.
The phenomenal success of Silicon Valley has been predicated on the fact that it is not failure itself that is the problem but the inability to learn from it. If you learn, and keep learning, you ultimately lead yourself to success. It reminds me of a quote from Winston Churchill: “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” That is what makes the true entrepreneur special.
I take my hat off to all the entrepreneurs out there. From the pastry chef trying to do something a little different in a local bakery to those who steer the start-up tech companies that are dramatically changing the world we live in. When self-belief and tenacity were handed out, you got it in bucket loads. And we’re all richer for it.