Tag Archives: business

Tips for Business Start Ups: don’t write yourself out of your own business (at the beginning)

It’s amazing the number of start ups out there who have a terrific idea at the heart of their business proposal – whether this be setting up a photographic studio, becoming an interior designer or inventing a new ice cream – only to get very coy indeed when it comes to committing their fulsome selves to the push and pull needed to get that idea off the page, out of the kitchen and out into the street.

Cutting and pasting someone else’s thinking, copy or images into the materials you need to promote your own business rather than get down to the messy business of creating your own creative raw material from which you can construct your own company’s creative capital is one way in which young up-start start-ups manage to show their commitment-phobia. Another way of doing it is to ignore the very skills and interests which led them to creating their business idea in the first place.

But perhaps this is a reflection of a start-up culture which takes rather too much to heart the concept that all business activity consists of is recycling some-one else’s ideas – or running away from your own. Of course, there are times to sell on your business and move it into the hands of some other young keen entrepreneur: but it’s not at the start of the process when it needs you to fully invest your own time, spirit and creativity into getting that quivering young phenomenon, the new business, up and walking about into the sunshine.

Beyond Leadership: International Business Conference on export and international trade at Lancaster University, March 2013

The pressure on businesses to survive and thrive through developing their export capacity are growing weekly. Hardly a day goes by without some politician or business leader exhorting businesses to develop their international links and export capabilities. But authentic and inspiring knowledge, advice and guidance can be hard to find. All too frequently, businesses can be offered superficial solutions to complex, strategic problems.

Beyond Leadership aims to reverse this trend by offering business leaders and acclaimed business academics the space, time and opportunities to meet, converse and establish meaningful long term dialogue between each other. The conference will offer opportunities to re-think strategic approaches to export and international trade and establish vital new links between the higher education sector, businesses and international partners.

Beyond Leadership is for business professionals, academics and researchers who specialise in business and those who practise leadership especially in international trade and export contexts. It is suitable for both those businesses who are new to export and existing, well established exporters. The conference will enable you to make new business and academic connections, develop new knowledge about export, develop new approaches to strategic development and increase your capacity to grow your business both nationally and internationally.

Co-produced by the Aspire Trust and the Grove International Management School, this event is for practitioners, academics and researchers and those who practice leadership in any kind of organisational setting especially in overseas trade.

The event will take place at Lancaster University on 21 and 22 March 2013. For further details, and to book your place please contact us at nick@aspire-trust.org.

Don’t look away now: the business start up is right behind you…

Start ups are in the midst of all of us – they might be operating the sound desk behind the big voiced American, collecting train tickets amongst the noisy suits and stilettos or selling burgers and chips to the dossed out and dazed.

But out there, amongst us, they are. Plotting and dreaming, wishing and scheming, ageing older and younger. They’ll be turning into those on the front of the stage, getting off the train and calling the vodka shots before they or us know it. They’ll be paying taxes, employeeing future wannabees and creating the fabric which holds the rest of society together any time tomorrow and we would be well advised to doff our caps, wish them well and hope that their dreams don’t become our nightmares.

Tips for Business Start Ups: the first sale and falling into business

There’s 1000 different cheeses to buy, 1000 types of ham to taste and 1000 glasses of wine to savour. But we only ever buy 3 or 4. From people who speak to us, are curious about us, and who look interesting to us. There’s no immediate strategy which closes one over the other; it might just be a single glance, a stumble, a misunderstanding that leads to that first transaction – but it’s not planned, strategised or considered consciously. The first trading moment may happen merely because we forget to tie up our shoelaces this morning, tripped and fell into the arms of an unsuspecting hotdog seller.

3 Principles of Artistic Partnership: Liberté, Egalité,Fraternité

There’s been an increase recently of large arts organisations who, in an effort to demonstrate their badge of social conscience, like to present themselves as ‘partners’ to smaller arts organisations. But the notion of what they mean by partnership varies wildly, even sometimes on a day to day basis within the same organisation too.

Whilst they might declare that they have noble intentions in supporting their local cultural ecology, in practice when artistic push turns into economic shove and the smaller partner starts punching above its ecological status, then the larger partner can start forgetting the basics of real partnership working such as:

1. Liberté. The partnership works best when both partners enter that partnership voluntarily and are not coerced into or into an arrangement that suits one partner better than the other.

2. Egalité. Respect language differences. Appreciate your way of knowing the world and acting upon it is not the only way of living the good life. Other partners might speak differently, use different metaphors and may not be hide-bound by your language – the value of your partnership is in appreciating those differences in language and not just railroading over them.

3. Fraternité. Realise that your organisational weight is not the be all and end-all. It’s not just your history that makes you a partner – you have to bring ongoing skills, knowledge and wisdom to this process not just a superior histori-cultural capital. A decent partnership isn’t a forced marriage where you bring your ugly self and explain it away with the large inheritance you’re bringing to justify your place at the table.

All partnerships need the benefit of joint wisdoms and a commitment to talking and respecting each other.  The partner who manages to ignore these guidelines is nothing more than a control freak who can’t tolerate the notion that perhaps some-one somewhere out there might just have something more important to say than the repetition of the tired old canon that many find themselves having to repeat to themselves year after year.

Tips for Business Start Ups: shift your image from being suited, booted and bollocksed.

We’ve all seen them: images of businessmen and women doing what they do well – shaking hands, sat at computer terminals and looking the consummate professional in their suits and boots, ties and hankies. These are what archetypal business people look like and what they do. They sit down, they stand up. They shake hands. They grimace.  They look like something out of an old Kraftwerk video.

But of course the life and style of an entrepreneur – someone who makes something out of nothing –  is lot more visually complicated.  They stand at ovens, they sit in boats on rivers, they may have nothing to do with a computer other than using it as target practice for their failed production line rejects.

We need to start rethinking the visual representation of business people if we want to attract new people, new ideas and new thinking to an activity which is fundamentally honourable in its intention to generate income, jobs and the economy as a whole.

Let’s see images of business activity which are less suited booted and bollocksed, and more ideosyncratic, beautiful and boundless in their vision and imagination.

Tips for Business Start Ups: Start Up? A Business? WTF would I want to do that right now?

Whatever they say, we’re still in recession. Whatever they say, the banks aren’t lending. Whatever they say, the climate is still atrocious and it won’t stop raining and it’s still very cold out there in the harsh economic world. For many, many people the tender green shoots of economic growth are just that: algal bloom in a stagnating river of economic effluent. There’s a million and one reasons why there’s never a right time to start up a business. And a million and one why it’s the right time.

You get to shape your own future, rather than have it shaped for you by distant beaurocrats in the HR department. You get to develop your own ideas, unhindered by the pressures and politics of more noisier colleagues who are always putting you down. You get to shape the culture of your workplace rather than being the unwitting object of other peoples outdated cultural habits. You get to employ people, create jobs and make a difference to others around you.

Sure, none of this easy, and none of this makes for sleepless nights and a stress-lite existence. For a sleep-full and stress-empty life, you might be better retiring to the hills, writing your memoirs and feel comforted in what coulda been, what woulda been, and what shoulda been.

But if you have an idea which is itching to get out, which will contribute to your community, your society and the people around you, then now is absolutely the right time to set up your new business.  It won’t stop the rain, the banks won’t have a change of heart and the recession is likely to continue for a lot longer than we might like: but your business will make it a bit sunnier for some and will stick it to those mad-market-morons who are driving the economy ever deeper into the ground. That’s exactly why TF you would want to do that right now.

Tips for Business Start Ups: 5 things your MBA won’t teach you. And 1 it will.

If you’re about to set up a new business then you need to know that you’re not about to enter a Newtonian type universe where every cause has an effect or where every action has a reaction. You’re joining the slippy sloppy world of quantum mechanics where minor variations in inputs have surprising unplanned and unexpected consequences on your outputs. You’ll need to be reading up on chaos theory soon.

But if you don’t have the time to wade through complexity, strange attractors and topological mixing, then here are 6 essential tips to prepare you for those next strange journeys you are about to encounter.

1. Working hard doesn’t necessarily get rewarded. You can work your backside off over many years but it’s a guarantee of nothing. There’s no straight forward logic between effort and reward.

2. The market place is not a fair equitable system which is built upon civilising values of integrity, honesty and balance. Markets are not like super-bazaars where there’s a variety of stalls selling you 7 sorts of trinkets. They’re imagined, fluid and fickle apparitions which wander Second Life. You’ll be dealing with 2 dimensional avatars not 3 dimensional people in those virtual spaces. Avatars have questionable ethics, suspect memories and indefinable bank accounts. They’re not who they say they are, they don’t do what you think they’re doing.

3. It’s not what you know, it’s not who you know either. No, it’s what you imagine that will get you through the days. What you know is probably outdated; who you know was another avatar from another second life. You can at least trust your own imagination as it resides in your mind and body, not anyone else’s.

4. Be clear what your targets are. Proper targets are things like what time you get up in the morning, how much sugar you put in your coffee and what time the bar’s open. These are knowable, quantifiable and achievable. Concepts such as wealth, love, happiness are not targets at all but mirages with a mind of their own. They will come (or not) to you when they’re ready, not when you decide you want them.

5. Will there always be trade? To paraphrase what Milo Mindbender in Catch 22 was fond of saying? No, there will always be a desire for selling and buying and pretending to buy and sell. Whether there is any actual buying and selling is another matter altogether. There will always be pretence, mirage and unexpected consequences.

6. Cash is king. This is true.

The benefits of the bus driver, epistemiologically speaking. Number 2 in an the series: Knowledge, traffic and arts based research.

The double decker bus driver has the resources of at least 11 on board CCTV cameras on their bus.

This gives them the benefit of knowing where he or she is going. They know too, pretty much, how they’re gonna get there, how long it will take and these days, with the added value of GPS, know what the conditions are going to be like ahead of them. They will also know that in large cities especially, the traffic lights will be rigged in their favour.  They may not know however why they’re going where they’re going – but that kind of existential question is also beyond pretty much every taxi driver too so they’re both in the same boat in that respect (NB boat – not taxi or bus).

The main significant advantage of the bus drivers knowledge however is the fact that should he or she wish, they have access to upto 56 other people’s knowledge about the reasons for their journeys. This would give them a superior knowledge of the traveller and their lived experiences: adding to the ongoing epistemiological crisis of the taxi driver who these days neither knows nor cares why they’re going somewhere, how much it costs or even how to get there.

Of course, the bus driver may not have the time or skill to elicit those knowledges from their passengers. This is where arts based research can play a major role in making the bus journey a much more enriching experience for everyone. They will make living the good life, an even more likely proposition.

More travel knowledge here.