Tuesday 26th November saw the first of BGF’s “Executive Summary” events where ambitious entrepreneurs and business owners can hear first hand the experiences of some of the UK’s brightest business leaders.

Sir Stuart Rose, the former CEO and Executive Chairman of Marks & Spencer, shared the experiences that he has gained during a 40 year career in the retail sector and his advice on how to successfully run a business.

The event was attended by a broad range of private businesses operating in the retail sector – some of whom have recently accepted growth capital investment from BGF. Scale, diversity and continuing innovation in this sector offer great opportunities: in just two years we have invested £32m in seven retailers and are keen to hear from other business owners on a mission to grow.

Sir Stuart Rose’s Tips for Running a Successful Business:

  • Enjoy your work – a working lifetime is too long to be unfulfilled. Passion and enthusiasm will take you a long way, whatever your sector.
  • Business is Darwinian: be flexible, embrace change. The weak and ailing will eventually die while the fitter and stronger will move in quickly to fill the gap. All the mistakes that I have seen in business are borne out complacency and in time formerly dominant businesses will play catch up to their more agile competitors. Any good business needs to keep reinventing itself.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a risk – it comes with management. We learn from our mistakes, and fear of making them should not hold us back. Again the rules of nature apply, if you don’t try or you just wait too long to act, someone hungrier will eat your lunch.
  • Have the courage of your convictions. Some plans inevitably take time to gain traction or to come good.
  • You can always change your mind. Trust your intuition – if something feels wrong, it probably is. Be honest enough to recognise when you face a problem; and when you do, act quickly to deal with it. You may be the senior person within your business but you don’t need to have all the answers all of the time.
  • Leadership can be lonely – surround yourself with the best people and capitalise on their skills. A business is ultimately a collective of people, skills and ideas and the best leaders encourage and harness this potential. A business needs the sum of all its parts to stay ahead.
  • Running a business is tough; it’s relentless and it can be hard to leave behind. However every business leader needs time out. They must be able to see the bigger picture, but being too close for too long will simply obscure the view. Some of my best ideas have been conceived when least expected.

BGF’s Executive Summary series will resume again in 2014. If you would like to receive information about forthcoming speakers, please get in touch via the BGF website.