This morning I was very lucky to catch Tim Smit from the Eden Project on Saturday Live - Radio 4, I'd urge you to listen to the show on the iPlayer if you catch this in time, but in case you don't I'd like to share a couple of quotes with you:
"part of the reason that we're a risk averse country is that most of the politicians that we have in charge of us have never had a day job and most of the people in charge of distributing money have only ever made their money on the backs of speculation, betting against their own currencies and so on, and have given up the tradition of investing in people who make things with their hands. This countries wealth was actually built on the back of men and women who made things that matched the imagination of our people..."
I think Tim hit the nail on the head here and his further thoughts on challenges we face for the future are as inspirational as they are frightening (since we currently seem to be doing the exact opposite!) however there was one point of Tim's that I found particularly interesting:
"the trouble is, if you're ruled by an accountancy fear of knowing the cost of things without knowing the cost of not doing things you can bring yourself to your knees - anyone who's ever run a company knows that very often you can kill a company in your desire to constrict access to money because you think that's prudent - the 'mumsy' way to success."
As someone that started a business from the point of view of making things, as opposed to making money, I can totally relate to his points. I have to say, I find the highly conservative attitude to business in the UK infuriating to say the least.
For example, over the last seven or eight years I've occasionally received criticism from (in my opinion) stupid people for stupid reasons: "you don't have a business plan? Tsk tsk", "You can't quote your profit margin on a per project basis? Tut tut" "you don't have a clear exit strategy? Huff huff huff" "call yourself an entrepreneur?..."
For a long time I took these criticisms seriously and quite personally and it's only relatively recently, with the right support and having done a lot of thinking/research, that I've been able to see things more clearly. The reality is that Kempt, much like our produce, is a work in progress. It's true that there are some areas that need to (and will) develop but the bits that are finished work quite exceptionally well. I started this company on my own with nothing but a laptop on buy now pay next year and the trust of a couple friends who gave us business. Seven/eight years later we have a company that's always been profitable, has an exceptionally low staff turnover, owns significant IP and somehow found the time to create some of the most successful interactive marketing material ever produced...
I have no doubt that over the next few years our business practices will continue to tighten up, but in the meantime I am proud to say that our priorities will always be our company and the remarkable things we produce. Kempt will never accused of the "mumsy" way to success!
You and find out more about the genius Tim Smit on the BBC 4 site and on Wikipedia
From Chris Kempt's Blog
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