Together We Can Take On The World: Advice On Scaling-up

Issue 24

More than 300 of the leading North East entrepreneurs met recently at the Crowne Plaza Newcastle for the Entrepreneurs' Forum 'Together We Can Take on the World' conference.

An annual event, the conference sees inspirational speakers from across the UK and beyond come together to share their experience and offer advice to the region’s most aspirational business people, to help them scale-up their companies.

It’s estimated that the scale-up gap in the UK is so big, that if only 1% of the companies with the potential to scale-up did so, it could add £100m to the economy.

Addressing the conference, Sherry Coutu CBE, founder and chair of the ScaleUp Institute and Founders4Schools, told attendees that a small change in their business could unlock huge growth.

Sherry, originally a Canadian national, said: “We’ve seen that the UK has become the best in the world at starting businesses, even better than the USA; the problem is that we aren’t good at scaling them up. The good news is that some minor adjustments to the pieces of the puzzle will allow tremendous growth.

“Every single one of us has a role to play and they’re all very important, it’s not just down to the entrepreneurs, the government, or the media. We all need to make changes and embed ourselves in the right networks, and if you do, they will care deeply about whatever problem you’re trying to solve and support you.”

While in the North East to attend the conference, the ScaleUp Institute’s board members participated in a roundtable discussion with members of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s Scale-up Leaders’ Academy, a programme designed to realise the growth ambitions of some of the region’s fastest growing businesses.

YO! Sushi creator and original Dragons’ Den investor Simon Woodroffe OBE shared his story with the audience. He said: “When I was a kid at school I thought if you told people your ideas they would nick them. I’ve never found this to actually be the case. What I have found is if you stand up and tell people about your ideas it makes them real. To me the magic words are – this is so obvious, why hasn’t someone done it before?”

In a captivating talk, Norwegian entrepreneur and LOVEFiLM co-founder Thomas Hšegh complimented the UK’s business environment, saying: “I’ve lived here for 20 years and I prefer to grow businesses here. I see the balance between being a country made up of lots of different people, and being one where people look after each other. It’s clear that it’s possible to do this and have a successful business culture. I spent many years in the United States and it was unbalanced, where a vast underbelly of society was ignored.”

Olympic Swimmer and World Championship gold medallist Karen Pickering OBE shared her inspirational story and drew a comparison between the determination of professional athletes and entrepreneurs, saying: “If you work hard at something you will overcome the people that have had the head start, who are naturally good at something.”

Sarah Wood OBE, the CEO and co-founder of viral video tech company Unruly, who grew up in Seaton Sluice, was interviewed by BBC Newcastle presenter Alfie Joey, who also hosted the conference.

Answering Alfie Joey’s questions about leading the growth of her now global business, Sarah said: “Communication is one of the most important things to master as you are scaling-up. We practice extreme communications; we’d rather overshare than under-share. Repetition is really important as although it seems like you’re repeating yourself, on the other side that’s rarely the case. You never want your team to feel they’re being left behind, keep them in the loop.”

The Entrepreneurs’ Forum conference is part of an annual calendar of over 40 events that bring entrepreneurs together to share knowledge, make valuable new connections and inspire business owners to grow their businesses quicker.

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