Boot camp BAM!

Thought I would check in and write another blog. I am failing miserably at writing one for each mentor but am going to try and catch up on them all over the next couple of weeks – that’s the aim anyway!

I have just had my first ever boot camp, focused on entrepreneurs and charities. We heard from some great speakers over the two days at Moor Hall like Duncan Goose from the One Brand who confirmed that everyone in business is scared about achieving their numbers, even CEOs. He talked about prioritizing your activities for the day by “eating the frog” – work out the main thing you need to do that day and do it straight away.

What I loved most about his talk was the thought that had gone into his business and ideas and the way they worked so well together. The aim of the One Brand is that “by connecting products with human needs – on a like-for-like basis, he hopes to change the way we view our everyday purchases”. For example, selling condoms with profits going to help HIV treatment and water bottles to fund sustainable water Activities for communities in Africa.

Simon Biltcliffe the founder of Webmart came in to present on his very unique approach to business. He only needs 50 employees and has a set amount of profit he needs to earn each year to keep the business running. Anything over and above that is shared back with the employees who work there and through a charitable trust to those less fortunate. I think that he had clearly given a lot of thought to the development of the people who work for him and the environment they actually work in, creating spaces that are fun and open and encourage collaboration. He believes you should only employ people “with head space to grow” and making sure you give your best people the biggest opportunities, not the biggest problems to solve. He talked about the importance of nurturing your customers “new clients come from existing clients” and it was clearly a philosophy he adopts in his organization.

Will King, the founder of King of Shaves, talked about the challenges he faced in starting up his own business in a market dominated by one or two big players. His subscription service, allowing people to arrange for mail order shavers delivered to their houses, struck me as a very different way of thinking and creating an innovative solution to a problem. Which is probably why King of Shaves is now second only to Gillette in the shaving market…

We also heard from Phil Rumbol, the founder of 101 who has worked for Cadbury and was responsible for fantastic campaigns like the award-winning Cadbury Dairy Milk ‘Gorilla’ and social media campaign for Wispa. I had one of my first ever mentor sessions with Phil and asked him to come in to present to Microsoft. He gave an equally brilliant presentation at boot camp with really insightful ways of thinking about working in a large organization, gaining stakeholder buy in and evaluating campaign performance.

This is literally just a snap shot of some of the speakers and presentations and advice we were lucky enough to get as part of the Marketing Academy. There wasn’t one entrepreneur who came to speak to us that I didn’t find interesting or didn’t take some sort of insight from.

I don’t know yet if I will ever be an entrepreneur and at the time, I wasn’t convinced that everyone could be one and could have a great idea for a business. They told us not to overthink it and that one day we would be walking around minding our own business when an idea would pop into our heads. I wasn’t entirely sold on this to be honest and was determined that I was the exception to the rule.

But last weekend, while shopping in Reading (of all places), BAM! Something hit me as a possible “good idea” – something that made me feel inspired and excited and like it May. Just. Work. I’m not saying it is a brilliant idea yet, it isn’t and would need more research to decide if it there was even a market for it and whether it was something I would want to put into practice. But it was definitely the nugget of an idea forming and that’s really what this boot camp was about for me, the thinking of ideas and seeing where it leads you. Watch this space….

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