Shalini Khemka, founder & CEO, E2Exchange on entrepreneurial traits that can create an impact on the UK economy
Getting Britain back on the entrepreneurial track has been vital to economic recovery. Promisingly, there were around 500,000 business start-ups last year, there have been over 200,000 so far this year and successive Budgets have including pro-entrepreneur measures. As this battle is gradually being won, a new challenge is emerging – getting people not to just start businesses but to aim higher, look to make a bigger difference and strive to be high-impact entrepreneurs.
What do I mean by high-impact entrepreneurs? They are those individuals who can create an impact beyond the narrow confines of their own business, generate benefits for the whole enterprise not just an elite group of owners and for their communities, society and the economy as a whole.
They are not difficult to spot. High-impact entrepreneurs possess the characteristics found in great leaders across all walks of life: a collaborative and communicative work ethic, confidence in and commitment to their vision, and a leadership style that nurtures rather than dominates.
Above all they provide not just business leadership but inspirational leadership. The type of leadership that encourages motivates and moves people to give of their best and achieve outstanding results in whatever sphere they work.
High-impact entrepreneurs are constantly innovating and adapting to market trends. They value talent and recognise that intellectual capital is crucial to the growth of a business: qualities which give them the skills to create a truly high impact company.
So how do you recognise such entrepreneurs and companies? One characteristic is their ability to disrupt markets. Take Glasses Direct, which revolutionised the optician business model from a health service to a retail experience.
Glasses Direct transformed glasses from a health prescription into a fashion accessory. By abandoning the traditional eye examination and shunning any bricks-and-mortar presence Glasses Direct was able to sell glasses exclusively online at a heavily discounted price. It’s common now for consumers to take eye tests on the high street but spend the money for glasses online.
Another emblem of high-impact entrepreneurship is a capacity to revolutionise consumer and business behaviour. Established at the height of the dot.com boom, Net-a-Porter’s business model defied high street shopping and the predictions that consumers would never buy clothes, particularly high-end designer labels, without first seeing, touching and trying them on.
Net-a-Porter now has 2.5 million unique visits a month employing over 800 people in London and New York. The company was the first to market, revolutionising consumer behaviour and inspiring retailers such as ASOS to follow in its wake.
LoveFilm is another great example. The company used its postal service to disrupt the conventional retail model proving that in a digital age, a click and collect offering, a strong brand and a renewed focus on customer service is can thrive in a mass market. It was this innovation which enabled LoveFilm to compete with US giants such as Netflix and encouraged other similar UK businesses, such as Blinkbox, to imitate its model.
High-impact entrepreneurs inspire others to follow in their footsteps. Companies led by such entrepreneurs typically encourage greater dynamism and innovation among their employees. Innocent Drinks, for example, deliberately hires individuals who aspire to become entrepreneurs themselves recognising the benefits of employing driven, creative self-starters. The entrepreneurial growth it stimulates in turn amplifies Innocent’s own impact.
To constantly be creative and innovative, high-impact entrepreneurs usually have a lifelong passion for learning: they are constantly educating themselves and searching for new, disruptive ideas. Stimulating this entrepreneurial mind-set, in schools and across higher education, is crucial if we are to encourage a new generation of high impact entrepreneurs in the UK.
At E2Exchange we are trying to play our part. By providing networking opportunities, access to funding, sourcing NEDs carefully matched to the right growth companies and encouraging entrepreneurial education, we are striving to ensure that the UK generates as many high impact entrepreneurs as possible to create the jobs, wealth and prosperity that will benefit us all.
Shalini Khemka is the founder/CEO of E2Exchange, one of the UK’s fastest-growing entrepreneur networks which she formed to provide a powerful voice for entrepreneurs nationally. Shalini, a former senior director at Deutsche Bank Securities, is a successful entrepreneur in her own right – established the first online bank trade finance company with three Deutsche Bank colleagues, which they subsequently sold. Shalini was previously an Investment Director at LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, and remains closely affiliated to LDC through LDC’s headline sponsorship of E2Exchange.
E2Exchange will hold its National Reception on 5 June at the Four Seasons Hotel, Park Lane, London from 6.30 – 10pm. Keynote speaker, Keith Krach, Co-founder of Ariba Inc and Chairman of Docusign, will be joined by serial entrepreneurs and two of E2Exchange’s founding Board Directors, Luke Johnson and Brent Hoberman and Eventbrite Co-Founder, Renaud Visage, to discuss Silicon Britain: The Rise of Technology and Entrepreneurship in the UK.
For more details and tickets, please see: http://www.e2exchange.com/event/national-reception-silicon-britain/
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