Raw business sense

Smarta was proud to partner Raw 2010 in Manchester yesterday, a day-long gathering of the North West's finest entrepreneurs. Serious networking opportunities were punctuated with addresses from some of the UK's most successful business owners: Theo Paphitis, Imran Hakim, our very own Shaa Wasmund, Kanya King and Phil Jones, among others.

Key lessons from the main talks and break-out events were interesting. Doug Richard spoke of a future dominated by augmented reality. He said those websites that efficiently filtered the vast jungle of information available online would become most valuable. (Touchingly, he named Smarta as the best example of a site doing that in the small business space. Thanks Doug!)

Theo Paphitis urged that small businesses and entrepreneurialism were absolutely the best way out of the recession - though spoke grimly of the problems that are still very much present in the UK economy.

Kanya King explained through her own experience of founding the MOBO awards that you really can start a super-business from scratch (watch our interview with Kanya King to hear all about that).

A panel discussion in the afternoon hosted by Smarta founder Shaa pulled out some key insights:

  • Recruit slowly, fire quickly
  • Buying up assets is more manageable than buying a whole business
  • Know your weaknesses as a business owner and get someone else in to handle them
  • Every business owner makes catastrophic mistakes - judge yourself not by those, but by your ability to bounce back and carry on
  • Consult your community as much as possible - the crowd is wiser than the individual

Local companies like magneticNorth spoke passionately about the wealth of entrepreneurial talent in the North West, urging other businesses to just give things a shot, innovate quickly and embrace the opportunity to greenhouse young talent as part of their teams.

And northern and musical legend Peter Hook, who played for Joy Division and New Order and co-founded the infamous Hacienda club in Manchester, got everyone chuckling (albeit perversely!) with memories of gangster gunlords running the ecstasy trade in his club while constantly making a loss. (Well, his talk was called 'How not to run a business'!)

Comedian John Bishop compeered the event and had everyone rolling about in their seats too, in between cleverly pulling out business lessons from his anecdotes.

All in all, it was everything an event should be: stuffed full of useful information, choc-a-bloc with interesting people, loaded with networking opportunities and pretty darn entertaining too. We can't wait for the next one.

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