I am sometimes fortunate to hear talks from great people in business. Recently though I was privileged to hear a talk in another league by Malcolm Bell, co-founder with Dessi, his wife, of Zaggora *. Dessi discovered the idea when she was preparing for their wedding – she wanted to find a product that would help to shift a few stubborn pounds around her stomach and hips and the only thing that worked was wrapping cling film around herself! So Zaggora’s hot pants were born.The business has been a runaway success and Malcolm is now also Expert in Residence at Harvard Business School ** His talk was disarmingly funny and humble yet it contained gem after gem of practical business wisdom. My takeaways were:
- Make something that people actually want
- Understand your target market
- What business are you in? Virgin Atlantic is in entertainment not transportation
- Get the right tone of voice for your business
- Brainstorm for ideas – buy a white board
- Have a great website landing page and get the email addresses of your audience
- Use social media but be savvy
- You only need one communication channel – but make it a good one for your business
- Talk to and engage with your target customers
- Send lots of personal emails
- Get feedback ask for criticism
- Only borrow money/get funding if you really have to!
- Hustle (ie pester) when things are not going well
- Connect the dots around your business… but make some dots too
- Use ‘strategy on a page’ for business planning
- Go to events and talk to lots of people
- Hire a phenomenal team
- Build a wider network of people around you to help you
- Build the culture you want
- Be persistent
- Be generous – support a charity linked to your business (top photo) ***
- Get fired up and be ready to go!
None of us need be intimidated as budding entrepreneurs as each of us can do all do these….!
Malcolm was asked “What advice would you give to wannabe entrepreneurs?” and he said:
“Don’t be afraid to try something new and make sure your product’s got a strong differentiation and good unique selling points. In a difficult economic climate it can be easier to excite customers, so listening to them and developing that feedback loop is really important – people don’t really look at adverts any more but 70% of people will trust a personal recommendation. My final piece of advice would be do actually go out and do it – I meet so many people who have a great idea but aren’t brave enough to take that leap of faith.”
Within the network of great people around you that Malcolm suggests, I would add the invaluable role of a mentor. The statistics show how powerful a contribution a good mentor can make. S/he helps not only the likelihood of success but the overall quality of the business that is built. So what is the ‘cling film’ in your life that you can turn into a multinational global success story?
Malcolm’s talk was hosted by Forward Partners Live which supports those entrepreneurs who don’t take Malcolm’s advice and need some funding! https://forwardpartners.com/fp-live/
** The Harvard Business School “educates leaders who make a difference in the world” http://www.hbs.edu/about/Pages/mission.aspx
*** Since 2003, Zaggora Founder Dessi Bell has been working with Gravis, a charity based in the Thar desert in Rajasthan, India. Gravis works with the United Nations Development Programme and hundreds of other organizations to support around 1.2 million people and their families living in over 1,300 remote villages. One of the flagship programmes of Gravis is supporting women by creating community groups to form businesses to improve their livelihoods and education.