Recorded in front of a live audience of Scottish business owners, Vicky Brock is interviewed by journalist David Ferguson about how and why - after the lowest point of her business career - she is now back with startup number five.
Vicky shares her process on how to start and grow a business, what she has learned across her very different companies and the 9 reasons she has discovered for why your startup may not be growing like you planned.
She explains why the first idea you have almost certainly is not the one that will become your business, why she prefers pain to delight and how her latest startup will achieve more in four months than her previous company achieved in 18 months. Because while it is relatively easy to create a product, and even fairly easy to build a product people will by once, it is actually very, very difficult to create something people will buy again and again. But that is what you need to achieve if you are going to build a business.
"I'm pleased I'm back here doing it all over again - I tried to start a bit too fast last time and we skipped over some important early steps in really finding product and solution fit. I'm not going to make that same mistake again. My whole team are focused on doing the on-paper work that means we test and validate our assumptions up front. And because we're starting in response to very specific challenges laid down by our initial paying customers, I'm starting my this new business with my customer as a full-time lodger, which is great!"
Alex Feechan, founder and CEO of outdoor clothing brand Findra, gives a masterclass on starting your own product or clothing business. From research, market validation, to knowing your customer and shrewd proto-typing of a capsule product range, she gets into the detail of how she spent a year de-risking and building customer and industry validation for her new clothing brand in its "pre-start" phase - all before spending any money. She explains why slowing down was so critical to success, because it let her really understand her customer needs, how she has learned to listen to and trust her gut instincts - and why fours years in and significant growth later, she might just be at the start line.
Alison Grieve, founder and CEO of G-Hold - a multi-purpose ergonomic handhold that can be placed onto any type of tablet or reader - sells her product worldwide through partners like Microsoft Surface, Amazon, Apple and Home Shopping Network. Having successfully cracked delivering sales volume, unit profitability, international IP protection, managing a complex export business and moving back to onshore manufacturing, she joins me to advise a founder looking for advice on how to internationalise their startup business and sales channels.
Building a successful startup and product or service is all about execution, but execution shouldn't be blind. This episode looks at the research and validation questions to ask, customer feedback at the product development stage, how to prioritise features and ideas in or out of scope, and what 'good enough' looks like at the early stage. Guest Stephen Budd has an unusual mix of research, data analytics, and product management skills and has brought software products to market in multiple countries, and led the product management of solutions that have been named eCommerce Innovation of the Year and Best New Product. His customer and market validation work for private and public sector clients has ensured some truly terrible product ideas have gone back to the drawing board, saving heartache and money for all involved, and has helped refine ideas with an inkling of potential into solutions with a robust market opportunity and clear value proposition.
Organic farmer and premium food brand producer Endrina Maxwell is one of the most opportunistic and inspiring entrepreneurs to join me on the podcast yet. She explains how she has maximized value and competitive advantage at every stage of the food production process, from innovative fish farming to organic seed, feed and manure production - and in her latest venture the NutriSecret range of healthy, chemical-free food products and cooking oil. We cover brand, differentiation, pricing, benefits not features and how to effectively diversify to reduce risk and pursue market opportunities. She shares her personal tips on finding purpose, focus, and how she uses goals and planning to drive her onward.
Rachel Bews founded ALICAS, a startup with social purpose and ambitions to scale globally, and she joins Vicky Brock to discuss the particular factors 'for good' businesses need to think about as they startup and plan their growth. A social media professional, with an extensive background in content marketing, she also advises an entrepreneur struggling to get an impact from their social marketing efforts that perception is reality - founders can't afford to be so busy working on their startups that they delay working on the business and personal brands, as they are the same thing. She provides some tips, tools and organic & paid approaches that will help young businesses get more impact from their social media and social purpose efforts - and announces her new Tags-On clothing appeal, to help women fleeing domestic violence to dress with confidence and dignity.
Vicky reports back on her recent Women Entrepreneur's Challenge to Malawi, organised by Kate Webb and her team at the Responsible Safari Company, including what she learned, and the profound impact this has had on her personally and as an entrepreneur. Tackling a listener question on how to startup when you have no money, they discuss the importance of having a support network of other business people, and why having the right people and expertise around you can be more important than cash. Kate shares her own experience of saying yes to opportunities and no to debt, then working with whatever you have to make it happen. To prove her point - the episode ends with an incredibly exciting request for help! If you are interested in getting involved in helping Kate and Dame Kelly Holmes promote Sport For Purpose or fancy joining them on a challenge in October 2018, check out http://www.orbis-expeditions.com/blog/dame-kelly-holmes-the-orbis-challenge-2018/
This episode I’m talking about quitting. And I’m talking to myself, because when you have a job, have a company, have investors, have staff - there are some things you just can’t say out loud without major consequences. “I quit” is one of them. So based on my own experiences, and the many conversations had with other founders & CEOs feeling trapped in their startups, here's the if, when, why and how of quitting in your startup.... Quitting your role, quitting the company, exiting a market, project or product - and winding up your startup completely.
CEO, Chairman and NXD Kenny Fraser advises a solo founder having an existential crisis about what their role as CEO should be, urges entrepreneurs not to neglect their own personal and professional development - and advises a founder to forget everything they've heard about sales and commissions, in order to ensure their team remains aligned to common goals and a shared compensation structure. Great insights on people, teams, incentives and the growth mindset.
What are the risks and rewards of working in a startup? And what 3 things do startup employees most wish their CEO would learn? I'm joined by Regina Berengolts, my head of data in my last startup, and now leading the data science team at a high growth TV analytics scaleup for the employee perspective on getting the people part of startups right. We talk about the startup mindset we look for in employees, whether a startup job is right for you, CEO transparency and the questions potential hires should be ready to ask of founders. We also get into the importance of knowing what you are hiring for before you bring people in and why you probably don't actually need to hire a data scientist yet.
Taking a more thoughtful approach to understanding market focus was a major learning for Wendy Lea, when as an experienced CEO of a very hot, very high growth VC backed freemium software startup, her urgency to execute led to mistakes that she now recognizes were avoidable. Answering a question posed by a student startup, she references Steve Blank as someone she learns from every single time they meet and shares her thoughts on why a customer development playbook is a necessary reality check to all the BS talked around product-market fit.
Having delivered business solutions in 30 countries, Wendy brings a worldly point of view to digital innovation and her entrepreneurial pursuits - she's currently CEO of Cintrifuse and on the Board of Techstars. In 2012 and 2013, she was recognized as a Women of Influence in Silicon Valley and in San Francisco.
The how, why and what you need to know about flexible and remote working with Dana Denis Smith. After realising her first business could not scale, Dana founded Obelisk Support to keep City lawyers, especially mothers, working flexibly around their personal commitments and to provide clients with quality legal support solution onshore. She now manages 1500 remote working lawyers, with over 1 million hours of capacity, and was named by The Times as one of UK's Top 50 Employers for Women and Outstanding Innovator by Legal Week for getting alternate ways of working accepted. "I don't care to be a sexy business owner, I want a sustainable business for the long-term".
Back by popular demand, Mark Logan joins me to talk about why founders block their company's success if they don't learn how to manage their idea flow and communication processes. We explore how product market fit is necessary, but not sufficient, the MVP trap, how to surface bad news internally and why so many startups are in the process of failing slowly. Mark is former Skyscanner COO and IOD Director of the Year.
Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year 2017, Leah Hutcheon of Appointedd, joins Vicky Brock to help an entrepreneur who is sick of bad advice. We discuss when to trust advisors, when to trust your gut, where to find good advice, how to grow your team and how to manage input from investors and board directors that you disagree with. As Leah says, you need to build and use your network and trust yourself to know that with any people decision - if it is a maybe, then it's a no.