Blog: The View from the Spire
en•tre•pre•neur – noun Entrepreneur, translated from its French roots, means “one who undertakes.” The (oft overused) term “entrepreneur” is used to refer to anyone who undertakes the organisation and management of an enterprise involving independence and risk as well as the opportunity for profit.
My next question is what then defines an enterprise – and who exactly undertakes it. We all know a retail business or consulting business is a standard enterprise but, is a professional athlete an enterprise medium? There is enterprise opportunities, risk and an opportunity for profit or reward!
If then we bring all “entrepreneurs” into a network, how do you make them all work together whatever the enterprise medium? Are there similarities for all types of enterprise and entrepreneurs and are there areas or rules of commonality that could work across these mediums?
In my career so far, it is the business entrepreneurs who have taught me much of what I know. Even recently, as I have embarked on a period of incorporation for Fettes Management, and including my professional sporting connections, this network has offered many of the usual “common sense” tips for my business. Being my blog, I have elected to suggest a few of the most relevant to me and Fettes Management:
Cash flow is critical to a startup business – make sure you have enough seed capital or ease yourself into your business.
Starting a business is all about survival. You need to do whatever it takes to survive and get through until the business can fully support yourself. If necessary, Moonlight until you find something that works.
Building a business is all about momentum. It takes time to develop a new company and for people to react to what you have to offer.
Tweak, tweak and tweak the business strategy as you go again and again – what your route plan looks like at the outset likely will not resemble what you have done when you look behind you.
You need to understand what it is that you bring to the table and what you need to surround yourself with. Know where you stand and what areas you require to find someone to partner you.
There will be tasks in any business that you, as the owner, should not be focusing on if you hope to build any sort of sizable organisation. You need to be spending your time working on the business and not in the business.
If you don’t truly love your business then you won’t be successful. You can only do something that you don’t really love for so long before you give up and move on.
It usually takes three years of hard work to make a business. Year one is all about the excitement of getting started. You’re high on energy and ready to take on the world. In year two entrepreneurs often find themselves still not making much money and the startup excitement has faded. You’ll need to work your way through the downturn and know that the money is coming if you keep at it.
The best way to make a lot of money quickly is to find a customer who has a problem and is willing to pay you to solve it – and then you go out and build the solution. (This is how Fettes Management started).
Find mentors who have knowledge of your chosen industries that will give you time out of their day to help you (you (or more specifically they!) will find a way of being paid back!).
Countless opportunities are generated by communities; networking with other connections and finding out what they are up to and how you can help each other. You will get new business opportunities, partners, investment, media attention, ideas, advice for your company, and many other resources that otherwise would take you years of trial and error to figure out. A real stakeholder society if you will.
In an individual sporting performance context, some of these above hints also apply:
Cashflow is key – only you need some funding to get you started and some ongoing funding while you attempt to survive – ie on the PGA, Ladies European Tour etc.
It is about momentum (and confidence), finding what works for you to achieve the results you need to grow as a sporting individual, it can also be about incentives and motivation.
You need to spend your time working on the business, not in the business. As a professional sports person, this is key and where managers and agents usually come in. However have times changed and do agents (as were) need to create new ways of doing business, fostering talent and importantly providing engaging ways for sponsors and corporate partners benefit.
Athletes, as newly termed entrepreneurs, have to understand where their strengths lie and when to call in external assistance to return better results.
Building a community around you – talking, networking and pressing the flesh. Thinking outside the standard box to create new opportunities to engage customers and the building of this stakeholder group around you to whom you deliver reasonable mutual benefit.
Putting all of this into relevance for Fettes Management for a brief moment, it is with these nuggets of information from dear friends, former colleagues, Non Execs and in part watching clever entrepreneurs work brilliantly, efficiently and effectively but also learning from mistakes made by self proclaimed “brilliant businessmen” that Fettes Management will enter our first trading year.
And to ensure we last the distance servicing corporate clients, managing professional sports men and women and creating links to maximize the benefit of both, we will streamline our (and your) business practices. We will work smarter for you and with you. We will appreciate our customers, and their customers in turn, and Fettes Management will evaluate our (and your) marketing and most importantly, and because it is the future and will fast become the only real way that delivers results effectively and efficiently in the sectors in which we will be working, we will maximize opportunities on the web – as business these days demands.
My gut instinct tells me its less about telesales these days, more about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as means to put your message across.
As Fettes Management, as it is for professional athletes, it then comes down to the work linking our corporate customers, to effective commercial opportunities, linking (social networking if you will) all of our customers including professional athletes to relevant opportunities to do business better, cross sell and promote – be that for pure profitable, for CSR (charitable) or marketing benefit.
Fettes Management believe it is this stakeholder approach (with our customers that stand out from normal by sourcing new ways of doing business) that will make the difference for us, and our clients going forward.
If Fettes Management sounds like a right mix of business acumen and fresh eyes looking over the same old problems for you, drop me a line. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
David Jenkins is an experienced senior executive with significant experience of commercial sales and marketing projects in sport, charity, ecommerce/retail and technology.
Visit www.fettesmanagement.co.uk for more information.