SEVEN HILLS - Britain’s Campaigning Company
SEVEN HILLS - Britain’s Campaigning Company
“The Victory of Giving A Damn”
“The Celebration Of Doing Something Great”
A wonderful tribute to Steve Jobs from (Brit) Jonathan Ive
New show reel for Michael Hayman
By Michael Hayman
Published by Yorkshire Post on Tuesday 30 August 2011 09:11
Yorkshire must sell its credentials as a can-do county if it is serious about economic recovery.
Hope is no easy task when confronted with a bleak economic outlook, with business confidence as fragile as bone china, riots in Britain’s city streets and the prevailing media mood music of daily doom and gloom.
Downturns aren’t defeated by doubt. Pessimism does not lead a region to recovery, a business to boom, or a person to profit.
Negativity is a parasite that robs us all of creativity, energy and action.
Optimism is the name of the game and if we are serious about economic recovery then we must all have more heart in speaking its name.
The government has pinned its hope for the economic fightback on this strategy and in doing so looks to one group more than any other to deliver it: entrepreneurs.
They are a good bet. While most entrepreneurs might accept that the prevailing macro picture remains testing, more likely than not they will have the courageous self-belief that they themselves have bucked the trend and weathered the risks of recession.
Entrepreneurs tend to thrive in the face of adversity. When Sir Richard Branson says, “screw it, let’s do it” he captures the essence of enterprise and the disruptive quality of the entrepreneurial mindset.
Make no mistake, that growing sense of micro or personal confidence is the beginning of the green shoots of economic recovery. The only question for our policy makers is how to nurture it.
There is a positive role for the state in Yorkshire, not only as a deliverer of services or an employer of people. It is uniquely placed as a potential catalyst for confidence because of its cities.
Cities are hotbeds of creativity, clusters for people to group together, and places where it is easier to pull together the sorts of coalitions of the willing that make change possible.
My home city is Sheffield and it has got to grips with this downturn in a very different way to the last time it faced the spectre of recession.
Rail sheds have been replaced by new and thriving sectors like digital. Regenerated and rebuilt, diversified and different, it has an appetite to be a can-do city.
Eighteen months ago a number of us, led by the city’s regeneration agency Creativesheffield, discussed the possibility of establishing a national festival for entrepreneurship, an event that inspired and celebrated the spirit of business, a strategy placing Sheffield firmly on the map as a champion for enterprise.
When I discussed the prospect with some business and media leaders in London, it is fair to say that the response was initially somewhat more cynical.
The great news is that hope overcame doubt. After a superbly successful first year, MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival, returns this September firmly established as a beacon for business.
In turn, initiatives like the Advanced Manufacturing Park in South Yorkshire are a big part of the regional recovery agenda.
This is a part of the world that makes a lot of things and that capability and heritage is a major catalyst to inspire investment and to nurture grass roots entrepreneurship.
This recovery is a local recovery and you will find it delivered on the streets of our cities, not the corridors of Whitehall.
It is a fightback delivered by the Apple generation, one that believes small is beautiful and individual enterprise the goal.
In this recovery, the start-up is the ‘big bang’ moment from which all things become possible and it involves change, lots of it.
In previous downturns, the UK has been rescued by the cavalry of large-scale inward investment. But the thundering hooves of the big beasts are not the predominant feature this time.
In this environment, the arrival of the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) should be good news as they get the state closer to local entrepreneurs, decision making nearer to real businesses.
But rather than smaller versions of previous regional policy they need to think differently and act as the chief cheerleaders for optimism. If they do one thing well it should be to focus efforts on the transformational potential of positivity.
“Dress cute wherever you go, life is too short to blend in.” Not the words of Sir Mervyn King, but instead those of that little known business sage, Paris Hilton.
She is right and our new LEPs might want to think about that as they develop the new strategies to deliver the economic fightback.
There is a recovery under way but it is fragile and has every chance of faltering, especially if we talk it down or give it up.
It’s a recovery that will be delivered by a county like Yorkshire and a city like Sheffield.
It’s a recovery embodied by the optimism of MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival. Hope to see you there.
n Michael Hayman is co-founder of Seven Hills (www.wearesevenhills.com) and of StartUp Britain (www.startupbritain.org ). He is Chairman of Entrepreneurs at Coutts & Co and for MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival (www.madefestival.com). You can follow Michael on Twitter at @michaelhayman
“I don’t want you to talk, Mr. Bond, I want you to die!” So says Goldfinger to Bond on a Swiss mountaintop facility, and so begins my most gratuitously self-indulgent opener to a column yet.
2 September 2011 @ 09:26.
I have just arrived in Zurich to attend One Young World, a vibrant Davos for the young and surely a great title for a future 007 epic.
As many have come to expect, I pulled up in the Aston, sartorially splendid in a Savile Row three-piecer and surrounded by a bevy of beauties.“I’m Plenty” says one. “Why of course you are,” says I.
OK, stop it. None of that happened. It was an economy flight to Zurich but nonetheless I’m here, at what is a blockbuster by any account.
A formidable gathering of names from Sir Bob Geldof to Jamie Oliver, from Unilever CEO Paul Polman to singer Joss Stone make this very a special place to be.
If the big names and epic stage sets provide the impact, it’s the young delegates themselves that provide the real wow factor. These people are not only the high achievers of tomorrow, they’re doing it today.
One Young World founder and Havas CEO David Jones spoke of the forum as one at which you should not talk, but do, and encouraged delegates to use One Young World as a “platform to effect positive change”.
One thing that strikes me is that the traditional “elders know best” school of wisdom is one that looks pretty stale in an environment like this. We live in a world where social media can destroy dictatorships and it’s the young that understand its potent power the most.
There were a number of interesting delegate votes that got me to sit up and think. On most influential existing social media channels, Facebook took 61 per cent to 34 per cent by Twitter.
On the dominant online service of the future vote, Google trumped all with 68 per cent. In terms of favoured news sources, only 13 per cent went for print, 37 per cent for social media, while 58 per cent picked digital news sources.
A key aspect of the Arab Spring has been the harnessing of every day assets like Twitter and Facebook, and its effect has been to liberate nations. From our comfortable vantage point you can overlook the fact that in regimes around the world, much of their powerbase is based on the control of communication.
In under a decade, the democratisation of communication has swept away privileged infrastructures previously reserved for the powerful and the wealthy. It may be revolutions on the street that catch your eye today but it’s the digital revolution that is the real game changer. In a world where talk gets cheaper by the day the era of real citizen power becomes ever more realisable.
Regime change is not just reserved for the world of politics and media, the business landscape has similarly been turned on its head. The downturn has decimated traditional expectations of guaranteed jobs from university and it has left young people exposed to the most uncertain prospects faced by any generation in living memory.
In turn, the internet means that a factor like your social capital – that is to say the value of your influence and networks – should become a key part of the valuation of tomorrow’s businesses and yourself.
Taking the big entrepreneur slot at One Young World was Dragons’ Den founder Doug Richard, who delivered a cinematic extravaganza of his own. Small Giants is his new TV initiative. He told me, “There are two types of people here: those that could change the world and those that will.”
Young people have a thirst for enterprise and people are inspired by the idea of working for themselves rather than someone else.
It’s a big change. Within a single lifetime we’ve seen the choices of the talented leapfrog from public service and the military, to big business careers, to today becoming entrepreneurs. That is major political change, social change and business change.
In Zurich today are 1600 people from 170 countries, the biggest global gathering of its type and a beacon for positivity. It’s a reminder to those whose enthusiasm for the future has been dimmed that there are some very bright and enthusiastic people on the planet.
The James Bond family motto is, of course, “the world is not enough” but the 21st century 007 may want to change that to “the world has to be enough.”
The fragility of our environment and economies means that we have to make the most of what we’ve got. Against that background there is a very welcome place for initiatives that seek to unite rather than divide the planet. One Young World has a licence to thrill.
I’ve come to realise that the best things happen when you least expect them. These random acts of kindness really do matter – and Britain’s startups are the first to recognise this.
26 August 2011 @ 14:36.
What a washout. When it rains like this I certainly suffer from seasonal affective disorder – it makes me SAD indeed!
Nothing seems to go right when it rains, from catching a train to losing your brolly. We really should have been a Mediterranean nation.
But just when you think that things are going to go from bad to worse, sometimes something wonderful can occur. That was what happened to me today and it happened on the face of it in a highly unlikely setting; on a bus on a wet, windswept street in Nottingham.
This was no ordinary bus, but the super charged StartUp Britain bus that has been tearing the length and breadth of Britain over the last week. And here I found myself among a most extraordinary group of optimistic doers, the startups of Nottingham.
What a great gang they were. Outside, sheet rain, inside, blue sky thinking all the way. The energy on the bus was something else. Incredible passion, great belief, great personal risk – the ingredients of young businesses all over the UK.
Since co-founding StartUp Britain in March, I have met early-stage entrepreneurs from all over the country, and I’m beginning to see them as a tribe of very special, very kind people.
The traditional image of the rapacious entrepreneur, that they’re “in it to win it” in a solitary search for glory bears little resemblance to this generation of people leaving employment to make jobs rather than take them.
Passion is such an attractive quality in people and I can tell you that in Nottingham this morning, there was an abundance of people with superb stories and a great deal of hope. If you want to see the counter opposite to the despair of the riots this month, then get on the bus.
These are the people that will lift Britain out of recession, contribute to their communities and are doing things that are brilliant. They just need the confidence to know that they can do it and in many cases are already doing it by building brands that have the promise to grow.
From a brilliant young drinks brand called Percy’s to a superb new sort of Facebook for recruitment, myjobsplace.co.uk, these are the living embodiment of what the Prime Minister called the “doers and the grafters” at the CBI last year.
I spent a lot of time talking to Penny Alexander, a mum who is about to set up her own firm, Alexander Residence, as a writer and a blogger providing content and reviews for parenting products. For me, she was emblematic of the people we met today. Full of beans and ideas – I think she finished up mentoring me before I had a chance to give her any advice.
I mentioned a rough idea for this column and before I knew it, she’d taken the photograph that you see in the piece. Now that’s what I call get up and go.
And then it came time to catch the train and a long walk back to the reality of a wet August train trip home. Twenty minutes later and I was hopelessly lost. SAD syndrome beckoned.
But like a ray of sunshine, who should walk by but Penny. She gave me a lift to the station and it saved me a pair of shoes and a lot of indignant complaining.
So, the motto of this column is that random acts of kindness really do matter and I’m glad to report that Britain’s young startups should have a very bright future if the phrase “what goes around comes around” holds out to be true.
If you want to see everything that’s brilliant about British business then head to the MADE Festival in Sheffield this September.
16 August 2011 @ 10:02.
If you want take a break to help you gear up for growth, you would do better to toss away the bucket and spade and head to the steel city. It will offer an oasis of opportunity from the very best in enterprise thinking to opportunities to meet other entrepreneurs and to network.
This summer’s riots have been a shock to the collective system. It has laid open all that divides Britain. Fitting then for a festival that reminds us about what unites and is best about the UK, its entrepreneurs.
It has been small businesses that have borne the brunt of hate but it has also been small businesses that have shown amazing resilience to get trading again.
It’s a far quieter revolution when you’re building things up rather than burning them down. But it is a revolution nonetheless and it is one that is based on the positive role of enterprise. What strikes me as interesting about recent days is not the unrest but the positive community action to put things right and get going again.
MADE picks up that positive sense of community by bringing together 2,000 entrepreneurs from all over the country. Business people who want to be inspired and companies that want to accelerate.
These businesses are the backbone of Britain. They are the companies that set the nation’s course through the compass points of constant endeavour and graft. It’s sometimes easy to forget the contribution to society that companies can make. Employing people, improving lives, offering services. These are the stories of real people who make a real difference.
One thing is crystal clear about the riots; they were an assault on the doers and grafters, those at the grass roots who have the capability to get Britain growing again.
Much time has been spent on the analysis of the criminals who perpetrated crime, not enough spent on the character of those who are left to pick up the pieces and rebuild.
It’s important to provide that focus because Britain’s entrepreneurial culture has never been as vitally important to the nation’s future as it is now. That culture is one that revels in a can-do culture and one that champions hard work.
It is a culture that will be celebrated at the MADE Festival over three days of events with some of Britain’s brightest talents and most famous business names. Speakers include business secretary Vince Cable and enterprise minister Mark Prisk.
MADE also welcomes some of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs including Peter Jones CBE; Dragons’ Den star and founder of Ariadne Capital Julie Meyer; Luke Johnson, FT columnist and founder of Risk Capital Partners; Doug Richard, founder of School for Startups and a host of others.
But if MADE is an opportunity to meet the great and the good it is perhaps even more importantly a unique chance for entrepreneurs to come together to use their voice to make their point about the sort of society they want live in.
I am chairing the Festival for the second time. A year ago we had a concept, a month later we had the UK’s most significant gathering of entrepreneurs.
This year we have a national platform to discuss and debate the ideas that will make businesses better and entrepreneurs more successful. It’s a wonderful destination for enterprise and if you have the time you won’t regret taking it.
Mike Southon made a great point in the weekend Financial Times when he said that “the primary purpose of entrepreneurship…is to make a better life for yourself and your family.” This is the spirit of MADE and I hope we make a great statement this Autumn about UK entrepreneurs and their potential to accelerate the nation on its road to recovery.
If you’re bothered about Britain be bothered about MADE.
Michael Hayman Show Reel: Events, speeches and interviews
Monday 15th August 2011, 2:47am ENTREPRENEUR MICHAEL HAYMAN
IT’S HOT and the big beasts of the corporate jungle are getting desperate for easy prey. Gathering around the entrepreneurial watering holes, they are hungrily eyeing up one species in particular, the gazelles.
In business parlance being a gazelle is about as good as it gets. Often found on the open plains around London’s Silicon Roundabout, these are fast-growth young businesses with the fitness to leap over the competition and live the entrepreneurial dream.
But not so fast. According to research by SAP UK & Ireland and Delta Economics, these young bucks should beware the perils of growth. Many of them are set to be culled because of the speed of their success.
Business failure is a very real risk, but this set piece of summer season silliness misses the point. Apparently 33 per cent of businesses that disappear do so because they are acquired. What a disaster, except, hold on, I thought that selling your business was the point for many entrepreneurs. Tell Iain Dodsworth, who sold his business Tweetdeck for £25m, that selling after three years was the worst mistake he made.
This sort of message says a lot about the mindset of many large corporates struggling to find a theme that works with the small business market. That when in doubt, the best way to win is to scare the market half to death.
But that’s not my overwhelming objection. It is more that the negative message to small, fast growth companies is such a siren call of folly. Most companies don’t have a realistic choice about controlling their pace of growth, and while a reputation for being dull but dependable might sound good in a corporate ivory tower, on the street it’s an ingredient to be ignored and a recipe for failure.
The pursuit of growth is great. Two years ago, the business I co-founded was an idea on the kitchen table. A big part of our thinking was that if people believed we could grow then we would grow. The strategy was all about momentum and so far the good news is that the strategy works.
Our business is known as a fast-growth business because we have the aspiration, ambition and optimism to excite our clients. Maybe we will fall off the curve at some point but we also might get right back on it because of these very same character assets.
Growth most certainly has its challenges but we wouldn’t change the direction for a second. It provides the lifeblood that drives the business, develops the people, and delivers better results for clients.
For the vast majority of businesses it’s not too much growth that is the problem; it’s that they don’t have enough of it. So rather than read extinct research, my advice to aspiring gazelles is to get hold of the Jungle Book, and heed the lyrics of King Louie’s song, I wanna be like you: “I’ve reached the top and had to stop and that’s what botherin’ me.” And that really is the problem of growth.
A new survey from SAP and Delta Economics tells us that fast growth companies should beware of growth. What nonsense. Put your foot on the accelerator and enjoy the ride.
1 August 2011 @ 16:45.
The latest analysis by SAP UK & Ireland and Delta Economics is a wonderful read if you were, say, as enquiring as the Mad Hatter. Because if you delve a bit further into the stats it appears that within the tea party of failure some 33 per cent of those businesses that disappeared were acquired.
Outrageous, I blame the government. Scrap that, I blame global warming. Except, wait a minute; what is wrong with being acquired? Isn’t that the point for many entrepreneurs? To build brands and then sell them?
This sort of research is meaningless because it lacks a usable lesson. What does it say? Maybe, “turn down that next multi-million dollar contract Mr or Ms Minnow. You can’t handle it.” I am sure it’s not meant to come across as condescending but the problem is that it does.
Yes, recruitment companies haven’t done well in down turns; yes, companies come and go; yes, companies need to manage the challenges of growth. Blah, blah, yes, but so what? It’s not only small companies, it’s large ones that don’t stand the test of time either – perhaps something for their next piece of research.
Try this fact. Out of the 500 companies in the Fortune 500 in 1957, only 74 remained over four decades later. What does that say? Perhaps that uncertainty is the only certainty we have and that the sooner we embrace that truth the sooner we can get on with it rather than overanalyse it.
So, rewind. How about a few facts that entrepreneurs can do something with:
It will be entrepreneurs themselves that decide how much success they can handle. So, my advice, for those that might want it, is go for growth and enjoy the ride.
Drive it with the furious determination of a Formula One driver and make the most of the time you have to build the business you deserve. In the end we all face a bit of time in the pit so enjoy it while it lasts.