Julie Meyer was at the IOD on Wednesday night to talk to an audience about Entrepreneurship. She talked about her background, experiences and her new book (Welcome to Entrepreneur Country) for 10 minutes before taking questions from the floor. She told us about several of the companies she has invested in – some doing very well against much better funded American rivals. She sees the UK as a great base for doing business as Silicon valley.
The theme in her book is Entrepreneurs, which is not for everyone but would suit a lot of people. Even in her company she tries to encourage the idea of it as business is more about carrots and insentivising people now rather than hierarchy and sticks/rules. Her 3 top pieces of advice for anyone thinking about taking this route is:-
1. Go with your gut feeling on things.
2. Get the company structure right (don’t have 6 founders with equity who do not do anything).
3. Sell, sell, sell.
Julie has set herself up in 2 countries where she knew no-one so she is a strong exponent of networking and working out what your key strengths are. Sometimes, you need a bit of ‘Psychotic optimism’ to make things happen.
Asked about taxation, Julie said she was personally in favour of ‘smaller government’ and that taxes should be around 15%. Big companies are subsidised in the sense that big companies can shop around for their tax jurisdiction in a way that small companies and individuals cannot.
In reply to my question about Venture Capital, Julie was refreshingly honest that it needed to be about more than trying to flip companies to large American IT giants.
Julie was asked about whether government and banks were holding back Entrepreneurs. She agreed but suggested that we should just ignore them and come up with other solutions. We are holding ourselves back by expecting them to do it all for us!
Julie read Stephen Covey‘s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People when she was 26 and was particularly taken with Habit 4 (Think Win-Win). Business needs to be win-win and people who see it as a game of win-lose are best avoided.
Asked how much her success was due to her parents, she graciously said 99% was due to them and 1% to her.
And her view on the Euro was that it will not be around for a long time…
Julie likes to think a lot (which is important in business) and the secret magic ingredient for a lot of people’s success is hard work (we all just like to pretend it was all easy and effortless).
It was a very refreshing evening to inspire new entrepreneurs and enthuse existing ones from a person who believes in getting things done. You missed a great evening but you can read more about her ideas in her new book and related website or find out more about her activities here.