I find myself rather “marooned” today in a beautiful hotel on Park Lane, with an unplanned gap in my otherwise hectic schedule, and a frustrating, but liberating technology problem where I can’t receive or send business emails…hence time to write this blog!
So here I am, sipping coffee by the grand marble fireside and pondering my last 3 days, and indeed reflecting on life generally. An entrepreneur likes to be in control, but not be controlled, to be excited, but not flustered, to be able to interweave personal stuff with business stuff, to have fun, to encourage and support others down the same path….well I do anyway.
Yesterday back at the office I wrote a list of the top priorities that I wanted updates on, then picked up my pen and notebook, and went off “on my travels” around the office to find the right people to speak to. It’s really important to remember that people need to talk, discuss, say hello, well done and thank you and it’s so much better than an email…!
So with all my desk and office related stuff under control, I headed off to London to meet up with Neeta Patel, the CEO of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (NEF), which runs a fabulous programme in developing entrepreneurial leaders of the future. Essentially these young, bright entrepreneurs will start, build and lead scalable businesses, and take UK PLC to another level globally.
Since meeting Neeta in 2012, I have consciously continued to support NEF activities and have even had the pleasure of hosting two NEF Apprentices within YourCash (my business) for 12 months. Both apprentices have gone on to set up and now successfully run their own businesses and I recently had an idea about how to connect with other entrepreneurial organisations I am involved in, which have many wise heads and older shoulders, with ongoing support and advice for the graduates of NEF, now the NEF Alumni, which number 140 now. Thankfully Neeta liked the idea, and we will pursue this collaboration in the New Year.
Onwards to lunch and I got the opportunity to meet up with one of my own long term mentors, who has recently taken his business onto an impressive debut on the Stock Exchange, the product of 12 years hard work, a long but fulfilling journey. An entrepreneur perseveres, never gives up, is patient, tolerant, overcomes challenges, and focuses on the end goal; that sums him up…and me I hope!
Entrepreneurial help is at hand…
I got a “help and can we chat?” message last month from one of my mentees, “Of course” I said. I will always be there for those bright young people who are aiming for the Moon. So I took time to meet up with him after lunch. He talked, I listened…He’s giving his FinTech start-up everything, every waking hour, so I gave him some words of advice and told him I will follow up with some additional support too. You know what – he deserves it, and needs it at this point. I’ve been lucky enough to benefit over the years from this kind of support and shoulders to lean on, and I will endeavour to do the same for others on their own journeys.
Talking of bright entrepreneurial things, my son launched his own start-up Indian-fusion restaurant 6 months ago in up and coming Brixton. Ever proud to support his efforts, I joined him, his business partner and 70 other guests to celebrate Diwali…what a night!! We were presented with a tasty feast of delicious food, with an equally impressive light show, before we were sent on our way to our beds just before the witching hour. And when I got to the hotel, I was able to stand and enjoy a wonderful view of the London skyline…there’s nothing quite like it in the whole world – it makes me very proud to be British!
Today before I got this unexpected, but welcomed “window of opportunity” – I started the day early. Up at 6am, I made my way to a breakfast meeting where the New Entrepreneurs Foundation updated us on the fabulous output achieved in the last 5 years – 40 business ventures launched, over 400 jobs created, over £2.5m in seed funding raised – wow!
The focus for the future is to take the programme to Manchester and Newcastle, building upon the successes so far. This will support the Northern Powerhouse strategic objective, but of course it needs funds, sponsorships, donations. So as a group, we all threw in ideas around how we can help this programme grow and more importantly, what we can do to make this growth happen.
So I am now off to meet an industry colleague to talk about a common topic in my business – the future of cash. Of course everyone has a view on that and I’m happy to tell you mine…Cash is here for at least another generation. For me it’s about consumer choice, and ensuring universal access to cash via the trusty cash machine. So it seems there’s still plenty for me and YourCash to do for some time yet!