Adrian Smith runs a company providing a range of business advisory services and management training.
His background is in Strategic and Corporate Finance Advice in the technology sector. The company he worked for used to advise 30-35 owner-managed businesses per year in how to make their businesses more valuable before selling them. Adrian is passionate about helping entrepreneurs through the rollercoaster ride of start-ups, having been there twice before he knows the challenges and pleasures at first hand. He also loves working with entrepreneurs to make their businesses more valuable. He is also a mentor on the Worcester University ‘Speed’ program.Why did you become a mentor?
By accident. I found I had friends who were asking for advice, and I was stuck in a job I hated, and people suggested that I should turn this into a business.
I decided to give it a go.
I quit my job a week before the bombs on the tube (the bombs were on my route to work), that was in 2005.Have you ever been mentored? What was your experience?
Yes, I had one when I launched my second business, but unfortunately I was stuck in the “all I need to do is write a business plan, pitch for investors and everything will be ok” mode. I have seen many other aspiring entrepreneurs fall into the same trap, but if there is something wrong with your business, (lack of team expertise, product weakness, sales,etc) deal with that rather than writing and re-writing a business plan.Do you still have mentors now?
I have a team to launch a venture in 2016 and they are experts in what they do, so they are co-founding mentors.What one piece of advice has made the biggest impact on your business career?
I must have been a slow learner!
But it has crept up time and time again.‘Everyone has an idea, but ideas are nothing without execution and you need a results-oriented team.‘
For every hour you spend developing your idea, spend 10 hrs on your plan of action and 100 hrs on finding the team to implement it.
In fact, there is some mileage in focusing on your team first and foremost, and only then working on the idea. One final point: If you’re thinking this is just start-up advice think again. Your team is vital to what you do no matter what stage your business is at.
In my first job, I used to work for a consulting company which had a leaving do a week.
The pay was dreadful and the owner (who owned 90+%) was a know it all, the staff knew about the plans but they didn’t make sense at all when the team members who were meant to implement the plans would leave. They also acquired two businesses and proceeded to lose all those staff within 3 yrs of buying them!
In your experience, what’s the biggest benefit of being mentored?
They’ve made mistakes so that you don’t have to.
They have learnt from those mistakes, so they think differently and have a different outlook. Therefore they can help you build the network you need.What’s your most recent success story from one of your mentees?
I guess the biggest ones are in cost saving which is tricky to get the credit for! A client was going to mortgage himself up to the eyeballs, and have family do the same to set up a healthy eating restaurant. All in all a hugely risky £300k+ investment before making any money.
I have seen this in restaurant startups before. If you get these right they work really well, but get them wrong and the business will close very quickly.
Now the gym I went to at the time had dreadful food, but I presumed they were full of sporty people who presumably like healthy food. So I helped them in introducing them to a range of sports clubs and persuaded them to give him their kitchen and coffee area for a few hours a week, to test whether there was a demand.
The guy learned, made some money, adapted and grew.
A few months of mentoring and he was making revenue and saved over £270kWhy should more business owners seek a mentor like you?
We love thinking of different solutions to business problems.
I love helping companies identify what would help them enjoy huge growth. I do whatever is necessary to help them grow, and I am insanely focused on helping them create returns on their investment of time and money.
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