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What is the quote from that film – Cool Runnings  ?? “ I see Pride, I see Power, I see a bad arsed mother who don’t take no crap from nobody “ !!

Well  in addition to Pride and Power we should really add Passion, Persistence and Professionalism to the other P’s like Proposition, People, Plan, Profit and Potential that are important to see when investing in a business.

I was watching Dragon’s Den on the Road the other night when Duncan Bannatyne was following up his investment in UK Commercial Cleaning, which was run by two very professional looking guys who had started the company with a few hundred pounds.

Duncan admitted that it was a plus that they “ reminded him of himself “ but most of all he pointed to the obvious passion and determination of one of the founders of the company.

Speaking personally I have always been passionate and enthusiastic about every business I have either worked for, started or invested in. There is another word that is important in this context  too – not a “ P “ word but an “F” word – Focus !!

The first business that I was ever involved in, as a 15 year old, was a chain of Spar Supermarkets in South Wales owned by Philip Jones (   http://www.filco.co.uk/about.html   ). Whilst I did not take too much notice of it at the time, looking back I think of the passion, professionalism, pride, enthusiasm and commitment of Mr Jones. I did not know anything about his ( business ) plan, or how profitable his business was or what potential it had however I could have guessed, had I thought about it, that there was a plan and that the business was profitable and had considerable potential.

However his Philosophy was clear from what he did, said and asked for. He demanded hard working professional, passionate and enthusiastic  people. Everything in his shops was well presented – shelves were cleaned ( you had to carry a rag in your pocket for this job ), tins were continuously lined up and faced out, meat and cheese counters were tidy and looked fresh and wholesome. Customers were “ served “  whether from behind a counter, in the aisle or at the check-out.

Only in later years did it become clear how formative the principles that Philip Jones ingrained in me were. He didn’t make it into the “big league” of supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda/Walmart and Morrisons all overtook  him while we seemed to be locked in a battle with the Co-op stores.

So, maybe there was something in the bigger picture that was not quite right – e.g. the overall profitability, the willingness to borrow or the buying strategy ( Spar was a franchise which Mr Jones left to set up Nisa – the National Independant Supermarket Association or Not in Spar Anymore !!! ). However Nisa remains a thriving,  independant, 8 store supermarket chain in South Wales.

Later, at Memorex-Telex and Fibernet I experienced again Passion, Professionalism, Persistence and Focus. Certainly Pride was also there and we had Power in the market because we “ knew “ that we were good people, with good products and we represented great companies.

Focus was something that I learnt at Memorex Telex and continued in Fibernet. Focus is a powerful thing. In many ways the market and Memorex’s proposition allowed it and us to focus. We had a very clear target market, vertically, horizontally and geographically. We only sold to the IBM user base. These tended to be a certain size of company depending on the size of the computer system
( mainframe or mini-computer ). We only sold to a certain territory ( selected counties or postcodes ). We only sold certain products into our target market. We only needed to speak to certain people
( The IT Manager or Director ). The focus made things relatively simple. The simplicity allowed you to concentrate on Presentation and  Professionalism and you added Passion, Pride and Persistence to the overall mix. A virtuous circle is established whereby when you focus and concentrate on selling selected products to selected people you become more proficient and more efficient.

Fibernet’s business model and market was slightly more complicated than Memorex’s ( Fibernet operated in a multi-computer vendor, multi-protocol environment versus Memorex’s almost single computer, single protocol environment ). Nevertheless selected products were sold to selected companies in selected territories and therefore targeting was possible and achievable and once again you could add Presentation, Passion, Pride and Persistence to the mix to become Powerful within your sector.

When you looked at UK Cleanings product offerings (  http://www.ukcommercialcleaning.co.uk/ ) and heard them talk about their products and customers you could tell that there was a considerable degree of focus and selectivity being added to the Passion and Presentation ability of the two founders.


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