About Workable summer school
What is it? The Workable Summer School was a three-day mentorship programme for London-based entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Source of Inspiration? Almost half of Brittish SMEs (47%) identifying ‘advice and information on growth’ as one of the most vital forms of support for start-ups.
What did it achieve? This conference helped provide budding startups with first-hand content advice from entrepreneurs themselves.
Anyone who has taken the leap into entrepreneurship will know that the road to success can be a lonely one. For James Endersby, Managing Director of market research company, Opinium, it wasn’t until he began to utilise and connect with the power of people – that he really saw his business grow.
Now in a position to reflect, he reiterates that he is “no expert” in the industry. However, in his mind, his belief in sharing the fruits of success with his staff and making authentic connections remain the reasons why Opinium has grown to where it is today. So what lessons can other entrepreneurs take away from his winning mindset?
Uniting teams through motivation and sharing
Endersby credits his success to having a “giving mentality.” But what does that really mean?
Any business owner starting out will know that sometimes there is an unwritten pressure to be “selfish”. This can include keeping your earnings close in a move to gain stability and security for the business.
However, Endersby believes that it was his decision to share his equity with his staff from the start that gave him and his team the motivational push they needed to succeed.
“At Opinium, we give 33 % of our equity to our employees, our people are our everything. But don’t forget that you, as the boss, are a person too. Working with that mindset helps motivate you – and your colleagues,” he says.
Endersby also credits his success to another mindset hack, namely following a proverbial ‘north star’ to keep him focused at work…
What does Endersby mean by following a ‘north star’?
He explains that for him a north star was more important than having a company ethos. “It’s a point of reason that you can always look towards despite how many additional tasks and goals your business takes on,” he says. In Opinium, this was always striving to help clients generate the best research possible, he explains.
“When Opinium started there were just 3 people – now it has grown to 50. This was thanks to many things, but mainly building momentum around a noble purpose and having a north star,” he continues.
What’s the point of a noble purpose?
After all, having a ‘noble purpose’ is essential in any successful business, not only can it unite teams in goal setting, but it also means that team-members feel like they are achieving something ‘greater’ than simply selling, which can work as the ultimate motivating tool.
Making the investments that count
One of the best investments Endersby claims he made was a company team-building trip to Barcelona with all his staff members. It’s something he hopes to do every five years. What was great about this experience was that is reiterated for Endersby staff the appreciation he has for them. This boosts productivity in the long run and allows staff to not just feel like a number.
Remembering your mission
Bringing in a leadership coach was also a definitive moment for his business, he says. “As an entrepreneur, you often strive to hit many goals at the same time. However, it’s important to put a reminder on what the core ethos once was, bringing in a coach helped remind us all of that.” These strategies are arguably what won Opinium Best Place to Work Award in 2018.
The power of networking
In this industry, there’s a lot of jargon, says Endersby. “Networking” is a term that is often thrown about. But, for someone starting out, it can be difficult to understand how to do it well and how to generate long-term results from it. After all, first impressions, especially in business – are everything, right?
Endersby classes “networking” as a key piece in the entrepreneur puzzle. He reiterates the importance of reaching out long before you need anything to build good relations.
“When you meet someone at an event send a follow-up message asap,” he says.
In the beginning, the idea of putting himself out there was quite daunting for Endersby. However, setting the personal task of organising only one meeting a week helped him overcome this fear, he says.
Authenticity is also an element entrepreneurs need to build strong contacts in business, he says. He is also serious about remembering introductions and showing gratitude for connections, adding that it will pay off more in the long run.
Don’t forget to celebrate the wins
As your business grows, staying on top of your game sometimes feels like you have to rush onto the next task. However, it’s important not to dilute even the small success of your company experience, he says:
“Build around the sparks – this is what will motivate your team to keep pushing towards your goal.”
Staying motivated when you are your own boss
Endersby recommends identifying an ‘enemy’ within your sector for some healthy competition. Then, he says, businesses should start striving to be the gap in the market that beats them. He also suggests merging your other passions into your business to help keep your mind fresh and stimulated.
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