So says entrepreneurship expert and author Larry Farrell. Mr Farrell has been teaching how to make a business tick for over 25 years. “ The entrepreneurial life cycle of a firm usually hits a major test at 30. It’s a critical time for an established three decade-old business. What do firms usually do when the entrepreneur who started the business retires? The biggest mistake is they hire a professional manager.”
Mr Farrell recommends that an entrepreneur always needs to be at the helm of any business. “We’ve reviewed and researched entrepreneurs extensively. We believe there are 4 key fundamentals that entrepreneurs practise. It’s not an innate ability you inherit from your parents. If you apply it to a business you can extend the natural life cycle of a company, in particular if there are the right people driving it forward.”
1. There has to be a sense of mission within the business: You have to be interested in what you’re doing. You have to focus on it a lot. If you love it, ultimately it will give you a competitive advantage.
2. Customer and Product Vision. Customer and product are the two most important words in any business. If you don’t have those two things you don’t have a business. An entrepreneur lives in the customer and product space.
3. High Speed Innovation: Innovation doesn’t have to have a narrow focus. Sure you need to innovate to create new products, but it can apply to building fresh systems in your payroll and personnel departments.
4 Self-inspired behaviour. That goes back to a sense of mission. Entrepreneurs like what they do, so they’re motivated by work. More than that, short-term consequences are very real to an entrepreneur. To the entrepreneur every day, every week, every month is critical. If you work in a big company and you are not performing, nobody might notice for a while.
You can listen to Larry’s interview on our podcast here.
Larry also got us thinking about a business in Northern Ireland that’s come through the critical 30 year mark and is going from strength to strength. Step forward Gareth Loye from M&M Contractors. Mr Loye took over the business from his father, and it has grown rapidly in the past couple of years.
M&M build and maintain utility networks. The firm is predicting staff numbers will swell to 150 over the next year and turnover will grow from £12million to between £16 and £17million. The company has had success in winning contracts with big global operators that normally only partner alongside firms with a turnover in excess of £100million. How? Their track record, and the old-fashioned personal touch.
The boss Gareth Loye explains “I’m only one phone call away. It’s the whole firm that delivers, but if there’s anything our customers need I personally still go out to sites. Knowing what our customers need, today, tomorrow or next year is the key objective. We build relationships with clients and use video testimonials. Video testimonials bring a lever-arch file full of paper to reality.”
Gareth is also focused on moving the business forward “When you’re growing as a business, your structure changes; it involves bringing in new processes, tracking jobs, tracking costs and you need every structure to work to maximise performance.”
You can hear more from Gareth and his plans for the business here.
We’re also talking on our podcast about the NI Tech Mission to the USA, which includes a company that’s developing an app to help calm down children by using their heart rate and breathing.
TakeTen is already in over 100 schools. The company is also working with clinicians to help children and their families deal with a diagnosis of cancer and understand the treatments available.
Plus our start-up pitch this week is Pocket Buddy from i3Digital. It’s a new way to approach a tourism app. We’ll let them explain the secret in their pitch. (We should point out that i3Digital is behind some of the most downloaded apps on the island of Ireland.)
You can also join us on Twitter @theprofitmargin and on Facebook @TheProfitMargin.
If there’s topic you’d like covered, let us know. Or if your business is doing interesting work and you’d like to talk to us about it, get in touch. You can email us at [email protected] or [email protected]
The Profit Margin is supported by First Trust Bank and produced in association with the Ulster Business School.
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