‘Synergy’ is a tired word. Today, it’s sorely over-used in business, and has become almost meaningless in many of the contexts in which it is used. Which is a shame, because at heart, it actually perfectly describes a truth that I believe is one of the most important aspects of doing business – that sometimes, by working together, we can be a lot more than just the sum of our parts.
An open mind
This is the approach I’ve always taken into pretty much every business interaction I’ve ever been involved in over the years. It requires a bit of humility (not always a common trait among some entrepreneurs!) – and a recognition that you don’t always have all the answers. But with this humility comes an openness to hearing and assimilating new ideas – something that I think is absolutely essential, not just in business, but in life as a whole. This attitude also fundamentally informs my approach to working with other businesses – whether I’m considering investing in them, forming a partnership with them or even mentoring their teams.
I believe that the only way that I can successfully begin the process of working out how to help other people to run their businesses more successfully is to listen to them. It’s really the only way that I can assess what they need, and if I can help – whether it’s financial help or simply advice and expertise. By listening to how other people run their businesses, I can start to come to some useful conclusions about whether I can bring together our organisations to create some of those – yes – synergies – that will benefit both sides. I suppose that having these kind of interactions is why I have always been attracted to like-minded people in business – people who share my passion for creative solutions, and who bring an energy and drive to everything they do.
So, I believe any business relationship needs to start with a bit of humility, an open and creative approach, and a willingness to listen. But what’s next? Well, for me it has to be all about working out what is the best way to help people to succeed. I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many fascinating people over the years, and everyone, and every business, has different requirements. Sometimes, I can see that they will benefit hugely from getting expert input from some of the remarkably talented people I have working here at OMNIA. Other times, it’s a question of investment – but again, without that process of listening to each other at the start, it would be impossible to target any funding effectively.
But whatever form these synergies take between the two companies – human, financial or in terms of shared knowledge – I do believe that one thing is hugely important: the need to let other people run their own businesses, wherever possible. This is an impulse that I really understand as a successful entrepreneur myself – the need to be in charge of your own destiny as much as possible, and to be able to feel that you are working towards realising your dream on your own merit and under your own steam. That’s not to say you can’t accept help – but rather it’s a recognition that these businesses we all build, and the individual visions we all have for our own success, are important and should be respected.
When we feel ownership for something, we feel pride, energy, and a passion to succeed – and if I’m going to invest my time, money or both in a new venture, that’s the kind of person I want to have running it.