19th January 2016

In my days as a Business Trainer, I was continually searching for people and articles to inspire me in my life and also inspire clients attending my courses – especially examples who’d faced challenges and gone on to demonstrate desire, dedication and drive to develop success.

A close second place for me was inventor and now business man, James Dyson. His vacuum cleaner was not his first invention (Tip one…Never give up). He produced over 1,000 prototypes before settling on the production model (Tip two…Always look for improvement). He looked for collaboration within the manufacturing industry to add business skills, networks and resources to his inventing skills (Tip three…There is always more than one way to crack a nut). And finally, when his patented cyclone cleaner was ripping up the market, his competition broke the rules and replicated his design; James took the culprits to court and won (Tip four… Have self-belief). The book, Against The Odds: An Autobiography, is a great read and an inspiration for me.

James attended a private school, Greshams in Holt, North Norfolk, whereas Mark Dixon, son of a Ford motor mechanic, attended a comprehensive school in Rainsford, Essex. Mark did not produce distinguished grades at school but what he did do was demonstrate a real entrepreneurial trait, knocking on doors of a new housing estate as a teenager and selling peat from a wheelbarrow (Tip five…Spot opportunity).

On leaving school, with a butcher’s bike he established a sandwich business called “Dial a Snack” (Tip six…Use your strengths, skills and resources available to you). He went on to extend his comfort zone by travelling the world and taking some diverse jobs including bar work in France, mining in Australia, farming in Asia and selling encyclopedias (Tip seven…Develop new skills and experience).

On leaving school, with a butcher’s bike he established a sandwich business called “Dial a Snack” (Tip six…Use your strengths, skills and resources available to you). He went on to extend his comfort zone by travelling the world and taking some diverse jobs including bar work in France, mining in Australia, farming in Asia and selling encyclopaedias (Tip seven…Develop new skills and experience).

The next leap in his career, having relocated to Brussels, Belgium was to spot that business people were forced to meet and do business in public places such as cafes. He went on to be the founder and CEO of Regus, offering short term rental office facilities. In 1989, it floated on the stock market for £1.5 billion and by 2001 was worth £2.1 billion – with his 60% share, this made him a billionaire – a journey which started from selling peat from a wheelbarrow on a housing estate (Tip ten…Every journey starts with the first step). Regus now provides serviced offices, virtual offices and meeting rooms to clients on a contract basis. The company operates in over 75 countries, with more than 1000 business centres in 450 cities, making it the world’s largest provider of outsourced workspace. The business employs 4,730 people worldwide.

Hear Mark Dixon discuss his work here and here.

Written by Nwes Business Advisor, Richard Voisey.

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