Five brilliant business lessons from Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed

1. Know thy purpose

Your business has to have a mission, providing people with a clear idea of who you are. You have to be really clear on why you exist - for Google this is to organise all the world's information and for Innocent Drinks it is to get healthy food to people. That is what we care about and what we want.

2. It's the people, stupid

Let's be clear, any business is just the sum of the human parts. You need to bring in the best people, engage them, motivate them, and develop them. The most important thing you do as a business leader is recruitment and you need to know what you are looking for.

We look for people who are entrepreneurial and we reward the right people. Everybody gets a share in the business and a share in profits, as well as the option to buy more shares. Every Monday morning the whole team gets together and everybody gets one minute to say what they are doing and we do some exercise together. This may look silly but it creates a great energy. We also have an employee of the month scheme and a scholarship of £1,000 for people to fund their passions - we like having a culture where people do interesting things. People have to pitch for the grant, they bring enthusiasm and energy into the business.

At the other end of the scale it also means you will need to fire the people who don't work out. You can't run a team when someone is not pulling their weight.

3. Ethics help

At heart we are an altruistic company, we want to leave things a bit better than we find them. There are five things that matter to us: we provide natural and healthy food, it is ethically procured, we use sustainable packaging, we are resource efficient, and we share the profits. A minimum of ten per cent of our profits go to charity and as a result 95% of people say they are proud to work at Innocent.

4. Details count

Once you have your business, paying attention to the details can get you so much further. On every bottle we put an "enjoy by" date instead of the more usual "use by" date. We tried to stand out with vans covered in grass or painted like cows. When you are building a brand, getting noticed is the most important thing. The world is now full of advocates, on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, so as long as you make your brand sincere and interesting you don't need to spend a penny on advertising and marketing. We have worked really hard on the details and tried to get them right.

5. Listening is free and creates value

The fundamental truth about a business is that it only exists because somebody buys the product. We have tried to create a culture that understands that, so we always want to find out how we can get it better and we are always listening to what people want to tell us.

We encourage customers to contact us and visit us at Fruit Towers - I love the open door policy and every day one or two people turn up and we take them round the office. This reminds us of the fact that we are only here because somebody is good enough to buy our product.

The people who call and visit are the people who pay our wages. We invite them in to give feedback and take part in product development. You can rate and review every single product on our website and we have the Innocent Twitter feed going in every meeting room. It is important to remember that if given the opportunity the consumer will tell you exactly what they want.

For more information about Hult International Business School click here, www.hult.edu.

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