When the publishers approached me, I thought long and hard about what always turns me off when I read articles about entrepreneurship. I loathe the way this subject is usually written about, as if it is just financial science penned by bank managers, systems’ enthusiasts and addicts of process. I had no intention of going down that road.
What I envisioned was something radical, brave and way more heretical. For a start, it had to look terrific. I have always believed the first bite is taken with the eye, and that design, layout, and photography can hold your attention more than pages of dense typeface. Any blank space is an opportunity for a message. It’s all about communication, and if you can’t communicate, well you are just not there. This is as true for this as it is for your business communications.
Within the world of business, smaller companies employing less than a handful of people are providing more and more products, jobs and services. It’s these new entrepreneurial enterprises that we hope to help. I believe these people, ‘The New Entrepreneurs’, are the leaders of the future, because like it or not they are the ones keeping this country’s economy vibrant, creating jobs and fashioning a new consciousness, which is more about making a difference than making a fortune. These ‘New Entrepreneurs’ believe that people have more fun, can be more creative, work harder and therefore be better employees or co-workers if they are treated with respect and dignity, not as machines that need to be ‘tuned up’ periodically.
They are coming to the business scene carrying with them a new set of values, and in my book that makes them visionaries – men and women who can see the need for business being done very differently than in the past. I have lots of sound bite advice. One quote I used often at The Body Shop was: ‘We were searching for employees and people showed up instead’.
Your business or enterprise does not have to be drudgery. It doesn’t have to be just the science of making money. It is something that people (employees, customers, suppliers) can genuinely feel great about – but only on one condition: the business you run or the company you have set up must never let itself be anything other than a human enterprise. So what’s the secret you may ask, how do you do this? Just try things out, do something. If it works, do it some more. If it doesn’t work, do something else. The only real trick is making sure that fun and excitement and passion are truly valued in your business.
You can’t do any better than putting your heart into your physical environment. If the environment you work in is squalid, you will be promoting mental squalor, the same if it is sterile. Never underestimate the power of what delights the eye. When I first started up my business I put quotes everywhere, some two feet high painted on the walls. I installed ideas’ boards throughout the offices and manufacturing plants, and graffiti boards in the toilets. All of this and more build dialogue which adds to your humanity. You will never fail as a result of any investment you make in humanising your business.
I hope you will find that this first edition of your business reflects the vision and passion and the sense of change that is happening under our noses in the business world. Just remember: it is all about freedom – the freedom you have to be in charge of your own working life.