November 3, 2012 by benmblackman
This week I visited the Start Up Britain Tour Bus. It’s a national campaign by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, harnessing the expertise and passion of Britain’s leading businesspeople to celebrate, inspire and accelerate enterprise in the UK.
It aims to encourage young people to start up businesses, follow their dreams, do something amazing. I got to stand on a double decker bus meeting College students form Liverpool Community College. ‘So, have you got an idea for a business?’ I’d ask. Some would reply, ‘eh? What? Oh, I just want a bag,’ (there were give away bags). Others would say, ‘I’m not sure really’ but after finding out a bit more about them we worked out that they did. I met a group of your ladies all studying complimentary therapies. They assumed that they needed fancy shop fronts and kitted out buildings to become businesses when they finished their courses. We decided that, in fact, they could start out ‘mobile.’ They have a skill, something in demand, many of them are already providing this to friends and family members. All they had to do was start charging and they would be in business!
A young man approached me and told me he wanted to sell sauces. ‘Oh, well that sounds good,’ I said (a bit worried that there was a long road to travel from idea to reality) but then he produced two small bottles from his bag, ‘samples.’ When the college had told students they could come to a bus and meet entrepreneurs who would help them with their business ideas I think some (including him) were more hoping to meet Theo Paphitis or Richard Branson rather then me but, like all true entrepreneurs, this didn’t stop him continuing with his dream. I established that his parents own a takeaway shop, he makes the sauces they use for marinade and dipping. Customers like them. He wants to sell them in supermarkets. We decided maybe a good
way to start would be to package his products and sell them to his, already active, customers. 4 sauces he makes already! ‘Try to sell them,’ I said, I bet you’ll get excellent feedback and you can adapt and grow from there. For a bit of hard work he can make some money, simple as that. He gave me the only 2 samples he had been able to bring and asked me to try them at home and tell him what I thought. I can’t tell you what impact that had on me.
I saw my job that morning as trying to inspire, ensuring for every voice of doubt, criticism and negativity I was the voice of reason and positivity. You can do whatever you want to do in life. The only person stopping you is you.
I always say, I’m a positive person. I try to live each day ‘to the max.’ Not in a high fiving, base jumping, clubbing till 4am ‘kinda’ way, but in my kind of way. I have dreams and, slowly but surely, I try to achieve them. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, but you’ve gotta give it a go, right?
It was an inspiring morning for me, firstly to hear the students fantastic ideas. They all had real potentials. They were seeking to progress them with a bit of advice and encouragement. I like ‘doers’. Secondly, it so happened that the bus was parked just 50 feet away from where I once lived, 14 years ago now as a simple student. Blimey, back then I didn’t know what I wanted for the future and could never have imagined standing where I was this week giving advice to people on things such as hopes, aspirations, dreams, and business.
Recently at home we got 3 chickens. Not from Tesco, from a farm. Real ones, alive and everything they are. We’ve got them a house they live in and, if we can make them happy enough (it’s a really nice house), they will start laying us some eggs one day. These chickens have inspired me hugely of late. They’re such a simple pleasure and example of life in it’s simplest form. You need to look after them, nurture them, make them happy. They involve a bit of work but what you put in, you more than get out in return. That’s what life is all about to me so I urge you to find your chickens in life and fly!
Everyone tells you why not but you can. Don’t listen to the doubters. As one person I follow on twitter mentions as her life motto, ‘haters gonna hate.’ You can’t stop them but you don’t have to listen. Forget them, they’re not important.
Good luck comrades, as my good friend Delboy used to say, ‘next year Rodders, next year we could be mill-yon-aires!’
StartUp Britain is a national campaign by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, harnessing the expertise and passion of Britain’s leading businesspeople to celebrate, inspire and accelerate enterprise in the UK.
The campaign was founded by eight entrepreneurs and launched on 28th March 2011 by the Prime Minister, with the full support of the Chancellor and HM Government, although it is completely funded by private-sector sponsors (AXA, Dell, Intel, Intuit, Magento Go and PayPal).