"You have to spend as much as you can, and give people options or shares in the business," he continues. "Without the right quality of people you will never grow a successful business.” Jackson spent 23 years as a director of Sage. During that time, the company’s capitalisation rose from £1m to £2bn. One thing he learned from working there is the importance of managing existing customers better. “Too often it’s all about chasing the next deal, the next big thing, but what Sage was very clever about was concentrating on how it could sell additional products and services to its existing clients. I think too often this is overlooked by businesses.” As executive chairman of Elderstreet Investments, a company specialising in raising finance and investing in the smaller companies sector, Jackson has come across a wide range of businesses. He says the best ones have sound business models. “That means they aren’t reliant on a small number of large clients; that they are selling stuff that people need rather than simply would like; and that they have a competitive advantage of some sort, either in terms of product or their customer service.” Jackson is a director and investor in many other quoted and unquoted companies including Planit Holdings, Netstore, Computer Software Group and Micromuse Inc. He says some companies fall down by over-complicating what they do. “Doing a few things well is important,” he says. “And so it’s important to be disciplined.” This is an extract from Secrets of My Success, by Jamie X Oliver. Available at all good book shops and online. Related articles:Mike Lynch: Have deranged faith in yourselfGuy Tullberg: "The big multiples are a graveyard for products"
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