What do you currently do?
I am Managing Director and Co-Founder of Unleash, a consultancy that specializes in helping knowledge intensive organisations execute strategy, innovate and grow. Robert Thong, Corrina Kane and I launched the business in June 2011 with no clients under contract and just the three founders. Since then, we have tripled in size and expect to reach £1m turnover this year.
My role is two-fold: Develop our clients into successful companies and make Unleash a raging success. Through an approach that blends strategy, organisational and leadership development, Unleash takes client teams on a journey to solve real, pressing and complex business issues for themselves. The results are increase in capacity, innovation and growth, and leaders who deliver results and love making it happen. We’re currently working with pharmaceutical, consumer health and technology companies in Europe and the US on projects like Strategy Execution, Platform Exploitation, New Product Development, Open Innovation, Value Maximisation and Organisational Transformation.
What is your inspiration in Business?
I’m driven by two things: Purpose and Challenge. By purpose I mean making a difference and having a positive impact on people, organisations and society. I also need constant challenges to keep me interested and drive me forward.
I’ve been an entrepreneur three times before so I had some understanding of what I was getting into with Unleash. But this time the opportunity to combine my love of being an entrepreneur with the challenge and sense of purpose I get from helping individuals and organisations, and doing so with a great team, are what inspire me to keep going – even when things get tough.
Who do you admire?
I admire anyone who has the passion, tenacity and vision to step out of the comfort zone and innovate and create for a better tomorrow. Talk is cheap. The innovators, entrepreneurs and change makers who are out there every day taking action, battling it out and not giving up are the real heroes.
Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
I would have spent more time talking with a broader sample of our target market so that we could have refined our service offering at an earlier stage. This would have allowed us to really honed in on a few pain points and thus articulate our value proposition and a few distinct services more clearly.
I would have focused even more on what we’re good at – and not wasted time worrying about anything else or that we need big name clients. We’re excellent at two things: 1) helping small-medium business get to the next level of growth and 2) renewing and energizing an established organisation by taking a team of people through a battle to solve complex and pressing business issues for themselves … and doing so in highly technical and complex environments. So that’s what we should focus on!
What defines your way of doing business?
Do well by doing good. If all that motivates you is to make a quick buck or retire at 40, customers, employees and others will quickly see through it. We live in a time when customers want to connect with your brand and see their personal values reflected in your company. I would argue that purposeful work will not only make you, your employees and customers happier, but it also makes more money in the long run.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
I love Howard Stevenson’s quote: “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.“
Believe in yourself and never stop learning. I used to think business ideas came to you and it was a matter of the right idea one day ‘magically’ popping into your head. What I have come to realise is that ideas are abundant, but it is our ability to take action and adapt to what the customer really wants and needs that creates opportunities.
Openness to new possibilities is a choice. We all have a choice in whether we let the stress and bad experiences of life get to us and make us bitter and negative, or whether we harness our energy and experience in positive ways. The only person who loses if you choose the former is you. If you choose to make the most out of life and allow yourself to dream and dare to go out there and do something about it, chances are you will!