Lara Morgan never set out to launch a multi-million pound enterprise. But when her father’s bankruptcy put an end to her dream of becoming a professional athlete, she was set on the path that would lead her to founding Pacific Direct, a world leading toiletries supplier for hotels. Speaking at Elite Business Live, she revealed the key characteristics of successful entrepreneurship.
The first step is to come up with a great idea. In Morgan’s case, that meant speaking to her clients and asking them what they want. “It is utterly wasted energy if you are not speaking with the customer directly,” she said. “Don’t speak to your friends and family because they are liars. They are not going to tell you that your product is shit and that you are going to starve.”
While many entrepreneurs today seem obsessed with raising funds, Morgan is not one of them. “It’s utter insanity to think that you need millions of pounds to build a business,” she said. “When I started in 1991, I had £372 and I used it to buy something called a fax machine.”
Speaking to the entrepreneurs in the audience, Morgan pressed upon them the importance of having the right kind of people working for you. “All of you will innately be shit at delegating,” she said. “We entrepreneurs think we do it best but you need to get out of that.”
But the candidates applying to work at your business don’t just have to be talented, they have to fit in too. “If you don’t have the company culture, then you won’t even get inside the door,” said Morgan. Even if they ticked every box on paper, Morgan said she wouldn’t hire them if they wouldn’t gel culturally – it’s that important.
Just like anyone, Morgan confessed to having her down days. However, she believes that what sets successful entrepreneurs apart is an ability to power through those difficult periods. “I have this mantra that I cannot afford to have bad days,” she said. “When I have one, I don’t sit idle; I do sales. You are wasting your time when you mull things over.”
Successful entrepreneurs are also encouraged to be able to work long hours and to be able to let things go. “If you are not an early bird don’t run a company,” said Morgan. “If you are a perfectionist, don’t run a company. If it’s 80% good enough, get it to the market.”
Considering that Morgan was able to sell her business in £22m in 2008, it’s safe to say budding entrepreneurs are well advised to take her advice to heart.