SETsquared Blog

Five people who’ve inspired me as an entrepreneur

Having worked in sectors as different as theatre and aviation, I've realised that, whatever your work, the more you involve the people around you, the better. 

Here are the five people who have inspired me most over the last few years.

My mother: pretty much every time someone meets her, they say something to me like, “Now I get why you are how you are!”  I am very much my mother's child and often think to myself, “what would she do?” because she very rarely makes a bad move and knows which way I need to head when I am in two minds about something.

My father: he's a very different, personality to me, but I am very much on his wavelength in the way I do business.  His own success is an absolute inspiration and he makes the very shrewdest moves.  I almost don’t need to ask his advice – just ask myself how he’d react if I told him I’d made X or Y decision. He used to refer to the family as ‘the firm’ and I see both him and my mother as my advisory board.

My team at No.1: a whole other family. Many of them have been with me for years and most of them are much better at what they do than I could ever be. Surrounding yourself with smart people is the key to the successful growth of any business – and their creativity and commitment helps me learn and motivates me on a daily basis.

My Lawyer: my best sounding board in business over the last twelve years.  He's seen it all, from Virgin Atlantic to the Beatles, so it's very reassuring that he's been a supporter of No.1 throughout its existence.  For a small business trying to punch above its weight, having an outsider who I can trust, who is actively interested in what we do, and who can combine such sound legal knowledge with a fiercely commercial mind, is invaluable. I wouldn't sign any significant contract or take a major step in any negotiation without passing it by him.

A ten year old from Hackney:  I mentored this amazing boy all of last year, through the brilliant charity, ChanceUK. He's incredibly bright, but was way behind with his learning and heading off the rails.  I played a small part in building his confidence, and helped him to catch up on essentials like reading and swimming.  In return, and without really knowing it, he taught me how to value things much more, to take stock of what really matters and to recognise that everyone, whether in business or in life, has to be respected as an individual. It's easy to forget that every conversation you have and every deal you do, is with a real person - and that it's much more rewarding, on every front, if you embrace that.