Day 2 of Small is Beautiful 2015 continued with a talk from Tony Robinson OBE. He has been starting and running enterprises with his business partners for nearly 30 years and supporting microbusinesses for 20 years.
Tony is the creator of Enterprise Rockers, whose mission he describes as"creating our own world for survival – a microcosm for microbusiness". He formed the group with Tina Boden because because Tony had been bashing government, and trying to increase the level of business support. He says that he and Tina soon discovered that, when it came to microbusiness, representatives from big business just don't get it. Moreover, Tony doesn't think they care.
Rather than fighting government, now, Tony believes in coming together as a community to enact change. In his talk, he offered advice on surviving & thriving in microbusiness, as a community, without relying on outside forces. "We can't rely on government, we've got to get on ourselves."
Tony shared his wisdom on the points of difference between enterprise and business.
As Schumacher determined in his seminal work, also titled Small is Beautiful, micro-enterprise is about people, not capital. Tony describes it as "going it alone in great company." But there are misconceptions about why people go into business – particularly creative microbusinesses.
He asked, "How many people here started their business to make lots of money?" In the auditorium, crickets. Tony suggests that many of us have gone into business because we want to control our own destiny.
An alternative question: "Is success about controlling our own destiny for the longest possible time?" Our audience seemed to agree.
Here are Tony's tips for microbusiness to survive and thrive without relying on outside forces:
Enjoyment. You've always got to be doing something you enjoy, because it's the only thing that will keep you going.
Bootstrap, don't borrow. Banks want to sell start-up loans, not test new markets. We're the testers. Micros can react quicker, collaborate better, and seek opportunities to create a new market that no-one has seen before.
Stay small. 1/3 people in the world are self-employed in a single-person business. Most don't want to take on employees. If you want to stay small, stay small.
Move fast. Microbusinesses move much faster than the larger companies we're competing with. But Tony doesn't believe we're competing against each other. "The truth is that no-one trusts government, banks and big business, but they will trust micros - your reputation is vital."
Help and support each other. As microbusinesses, Tony says, "We are the best people to help and support each other."
There's no such thing as failure. It's all about trying. We can keep trying by enjoying & working together.
Get paid on time. Enterprise Rockers is campaigning for #Payin30Days. When they began, only 1 in the top 1000 UK companies was paying on time. We can work together to change that.
Start and build new relationships all the time. Developing closer relationships and building customers is key – that engine needs to keep moving all the time.
Learn more about Tony Robinson OBE here.
Like what you see? Small is Beautiful 2016 takes place in Edinburgh on 14 & 15 June 2016. Register here.