When I started my working life, as a lawyer, I believed creativity was for special people like Richard Branson.
I left the law after 5 years, disillusioned that what I did didn’t suit my personality. On a trip to New York I fell in love (as a customer) with the then-new style coffee bar concepts. I was encouraged by my brother Bobby to bring the concept to the UK – and thus by accident became an entrepreneur.
I had no idea about marketing, branding, customer service or retail, but I soon learnt that when you genuinely believe in what you sell – ie when you are your own best customer – then all the answers and solutions are there. Your creativity is there. You don’t need expert knowledge; in fact you’re better off without it.
But the idea that my brother and I had soon transformed into a big company, with all the processes and disciplines that go with it. I saw first hand how the entrepreneurial spirit gets stifled in bigger companies. And although bigger companies need disciplines and structure, there is no reason to lose entrepreneurial habits – the very behaviours and habits that got it there in the first place.
And those entrepreneurial habits are becoming increasing important to (re)-adopt, at every level of the organization. The world changes faster than we can keep up. Creativity and innovation on a daily basis are now a must-have, not a nice-to-have.
And instilling those entrepreneurial habits in big companies is what I do now.