2016 was an incredible year for entrepreneurship, with near-record levels of startups, a rapidly developing support network and strong appetite for investment - and it’s starting to feel like we (the media) know how to talk about the business of starting up.
At BusinessZone, we’ve tried to stress that every contributor, every talk, every comment speaks frankly about just how difficult it is to start a business and provides practice advice.
We wanted to collect our favourite quotes that resonate with this philosophy as an ode to the entrepreneurs and investors that have supported the site by writing content for us this year, which brings us onto Ben Fletcher’s missive on scaling a business...
Fletcher runs a conference business and has a penchant for being focused. Why founders need a certain degree of delusion highlighted the struggle of balancing the outward perception of a business with the sheer difficulty of starting up; it’s the latter that we’re interested in.
In short, you need grit, as Seedcamp co-founder Reshma Sohoni was keen to stress.
Yes, it’s tougher than a lot of the startup PR suggests. And, Sohoni’s point brings us onto the importance of the personal qualities of entrepreneurs in the success of their businesses.
The importance of valuing teams and individuals when investing in a business came up time and time again; one of our most popular articles was When I invest in startups it’s 99% the team and 1% the idea.
What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
It’s a big question. The meaning of what a lifestyle business is was hotly discussed on UK Business Forums. On BusinessZone, Resolver co-founder James Walker argued that scaling up requires a different mindset and says they raised £2.8m because they were thinking big.
There’s also the gap between an employee and an entrepreneur, which was picked up by one of our favourite authors Stephen Newton.
And, it can be a lot of fun...
Okay, so we don’t need to be serious all the time. Craig Gooding’s story of building a billion-dollar business Fake jets, incubator bloodbaths and how we made our first billion is a rock n’ roll tale of the hustle it took to start up in a recession and build an industry-shaping media company.
And they also did a bit of bullshitting...
They weren’t successful at the time and certainly didn’t own a jet.
The founding journey as an evolution
Every stage in the evolution of a business requires the founder to develop a different set of skills. There’s a period at the beginning, when it’s you and your co-founders sat around the same desk and communication is a breeze.
And, then a series of inflexion points - some say around 12 employees, 40 and 140 employees - when the role of a founder evolves towards being a CEO.
This is a difficult process to manage. Sammy Mansourpour summed it up well at one of our round-table.
What’s the deal with funding?
Debbie Wosskow is the consummate entrepreneur. She built and sold PR agency Mantra in a multi-million-pound deal without taking on funding and then went on to raise a serious round for Love Home Swap (and picked up an OBE in the process).
That’s why her take on bootstrapping is important; we’re tired of reading breathless articles extolling the benefits of huge funding rounds.
Sexism in entrepreneurship
There’s an inherent sexism in the ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs, particularly when it comes to funding as Karen Bach pointed out.
Yes, there are still issues. But things are changing. Entrepreneurial Spark co-founder Lucy-Rose Walker argued against the male-female stereotypes of startups.
We love long-form content!
BusinessZone’s Deep-dive section has been going gangbusters since in 2016, with the addition of deputy editor François Badenhorst boosting our ability to turn out great content.
Let’s have a quick look at the average time a reader spends on some content from the last two months that has an average dwell time of over four minutes:
- Welcome to the Fourth Industrial Revolution
- Nancy Cruickshank wants to make beauty personal again
- The story of beetroot ketchup startup The Foraging Fox
What’s next for 2017?
Thanks for coming for the ride.
About Christopher Goodfellow
Journalist and editor with nine years' experience covering small businesses and entrepreneurship (ChrisGoodfellow.net). Follow his personal twitter account @CPGoodfellow and his events business @Box2Media. He has written for a wide range of publications in the UK, Ireland and Canada, including The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent and Vice magazine.