Lara Morgan: No entrepreneur is an island

I am honoured to join the judging panel for the 2018 NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards. I love these events, meeting those energised and aware of the value that the Awards can play in their own culture and company success.

I love the idea of celebrating entrepreneurs who are fighting to create and build value, sustainable propositions, brands with meaning, underpinned by great value. It’s those people still working relentlessly to balance the books, rarely living on anything more than a shoe string whilst they are still in fast growth and choosing to live the life of enterprise, and all the joy and tears that each day can bring. Enterprise is not for the faint hearted and the hard work and dedication to both self development and the care of others is at the heart of success stories.

It’s imperative to promote an entrepreneurial mindset in all people in the new economic and commercial age where experiential services and propositions will win out against the mammoth and cold experience of a click purchase. The digital revolution is clearly upon us; robotics, exponential growth and the value of tech impact for effectiveness combined with AI, nano and biotech leaves my head spinning.

Entering awards like the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards are about so much more than the possibility of winning. The process of entering for an award requires that you really think hard about what your company stands for. In order to write a great application, really step back and consider the progress you and your team have achieved and then sell yourselves large and proud. There are opportunities to meet fellow entrants and share information and best practices, as well as being able to meet and impress the judges. This is really is one of those cases where it’s not the winning; it’s the taking part! Milk it like any opportunity, please, for all it is worth.

Of course, the entrepreneur’s journey is rarely an easy one, and although it may feel like a lonely road, we are often surrounded by teams of brilliant people who help to keep everything running. We rely on our teams for everything from admin to customer service to product development, and without them we are nothing. There are very few entrepreneurs out there who could truthfully say they have reached their current position without a lot of help from those around them. As the old saying goes: no man (or woman) is an island. Maybe no entrepreneur is an island.

As entrepreneurs then, it’s important that we remember to appreciate the teams around us. While we’re busy entering awards which necessitate blowing our own trumpets, we should also remember to thank the people who help us to keep going. Once you’ve sent off your application why not take a moment to tell each member of your team exactly what you appreciate about them, and why you’re glad to have them around? Just a few kind words can go a long way towards boosting morale and making sure your team know you care. Even more meaningful is a hand-written card – meaningfully selected, character understood, personalised and carefully considered in the message of thanks. Priceless culture building.

I try my best to always thank my team members, not just when they let me know they’ve booked the meeting I requested or when we hit a sales target, but also at random points throughout the week or month, when they won’t necessarily be expecting it. After all, it’s just polite to say “thanks” when someone does something for you – but how much more lovely is it to receive thanks from someone just for doing what you do every day. I don’t mean you need to spend all day, every day on your knees grovelling to those around you – but I do think there’s a lot to be said for small gifts and cards of appreciation here and there to let people know they really are appreciated. Particularly when momentum is lost, hard work sometimes results in nothing. Those are the times we build our own and the resilience of others to be bolder, go bigger and be unapologetically ambitious for our brands and our futures.

And if, indeed you enter and gain no recognition, look closer still at the other buggers beating you. What stones have you left unturned, what is it they are doing that you can do better, faster, possibly leaner? There is always value to be extracted from every situation and the more you learn the more positive the outcomes you will achieve.

New to the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards in 2018 is the Entrepreneurs’ Team category, which recognises and champions the teams who are supporting their leaders and enabling them to achieve their goals.