If it’s September then it must be the Young Company Finance Conference at Stirling – a chance to hear informed comment, listen to the experts, reflect on the year to date, listen to some case studies, get re-energised, meet old friends and……. listen to the Beatles Story….. eh?
If (like me) you feel that The Beatles are celebrating an anniversary and a re-release of their material every second quarter you might not really want to be getting “another chance to hear” their hits – especially when you thought you were at a business event. However, Mike Southon of famed Beermat Business Models had other ideas and used the Fab Four as a musical metaphor to explain the Entrepreneur thing.
When I went home all “entrepreneurial” to Mrs O I began to explain what Mike did during his talk…..
Me to Mrs O….. “this guy today said he hated Dragons Den…… Dragons Den is to Entrepreneurism what The X-Factor is to The Beatles.”
But before I could continue with my wee story Mrs O interrupted…. “The Beatles….. they were REAL entrepreneurs!”
So Mr Southon might well have thought he was being pretty off the wall and clever using the Beatles (I thought he was too be honest) but sorry Mike…..Mrs O wasn’t at all surprised. Nonetheless it was a pretty novel presentation with audio clips and video clips built into a presentation that explained the key things to bear in mind when building your new start business. And with each key message a Beatles’ lyric or TV clip to back up the business point. Example? Well I won’t spoil Mike’s presentation for those that havent seen it but I think the “pain relief” that the Beatles brought to an Elvis dominated market was a rather cute slide.
To be fair there were points where I think the business point was a bit lost and the metaphor a bit strained, but stuff that, it was a great presentation that was as innovative as the entrpreneurs that it was trying to educate – brilliant. I’m kinda tired of presentations that do little more than consist of 6 bullets a slide and that are presented by advisors who take the whole entrepreneuarial thing way to seriously. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes – but they learn quickly that they have to present effectively and memorably, ironically many of their advisors never learn how to do that (how odd).
Before you think it was all Beatles Rock Band at the YCF Conference there were a number of more traditional presentations that were also noteworthy – even if they didn’t involve Air Guitar solos. Worth singling out was Lucy Armstrong of The Alchemists – a presentation with just one slide but delivered with immaculate authority. Lucy chose to discuss the challenges of Growth and how to position your busineess to handle that sizable objective. It’s difficult to sum up what she did because it will sound obvious if I summarise it hear, but she explained with clarity and the clearest of logic why you need a good Chairman, good NXDs and a good FD. I know that that doesn’t sound like an extraordinary revelation but it was done with such perfect phrasing and justification that I’ve ended up blogging about it. The memorable point she made was that Growth was not just “more sales” or more of “the same”, instead real Growth had to be addressed with a very different attitude.
One last thing I’d like to throw in – before you think I’m being way too positive for a Scotchman – there was one presenter who clearly didn’t understand the difference between Sales and Marketing. The presenter believed that young companies should not waste their funds on Marketing and instead should only do sales. As the presentation moved to a Q & A it was obvious that the presenter thought Marketing was advertising and that any contact with a prospect was Sales – complete nonsense and totally wrong. So if any young company is still reading let me make this clear – marketing is essential and if you still need some clarification then here it is…. “marketing is the cost effective delivery of sales”. Sadly I fear that the misconception about marketing is shared by too many and is in dire need of addressing.
Anyway back to The Beatles………..I missed them – but instead “got” David Bowie. So inspired by Mr Southon the next time I’m doing my “e” marketing presentation watch out for me coming out dressed as Aladdin Sane and using Ziggy Stardust lyrics to justify the bullets – “Just the beer light to guide us” (hmmmmm The Beer Light Entrepreneur……… £14.99 at all good bookstores….. might be worth a punt….any pre-orders?).