John’s working life began in Fleet Street as a messenger boy, delivering the artwork for Portsmouth and Sunderland newspapers. It was here that he began learning all about advertising. After that, he moved on to work at Capital Radio and then some other global brands, always on the sales and marketing sides of the business.
John’s school days were far from glorious in a large, undistinguished inner-city school. But he remembers it as a good time in his life when he took on some important lessons. From his much-loved sports, he learnt the importance and power of teamwork, the necessity to work with people regardless of whether they’re in your special clique. He learnt the art of storytelling and enjoyed developing a beautiful style of handwriting.
From school, he went to Fleet Street and a whole new set of lessons. In the early years of his career, he was lucky to have supportive managers and inspiring mentors, one of whom recommended a book that would greatly influence his life. Listen in to hear John and Michael talk about some of the books they recommend to other entrepreneurs. John loved reading non-fiction and was soon hooked on business books.
One of the biggest early lessons in his working life was sincerity. And as he reflects over thirty years, he can see how this had really helped him both when he was an employee, but even more importantly, in running his own business.
John talks about the early days of marketing when it was perceived as very American. Something that British companies weren’t very knowledgeable about. And how he came to learn the practicalities of the business. He’s able to discuss the difference between sales and marketing from an insider’s perspective, even though very often the two functions are lumped together, and many people may not be aware of what sets them apart.
Despite having started in marketing long before the prevalence of social media that we see today, John, of course, has stayed up to date and can pass on some tips about the effective use of social media. In addition, he uses it for his clients, so he knows how to incorporate it into an overall marketing strategy.
At the peak of his business, John was running a successful partnership and employing nearly thirty staff. Listen in to find out how he achieved that and why he decided to sell it and move on.
John is a great proponent of early business and financial education. He has worked with his local Chamber of Commerce to go into schools and provide lessons on business for teenagers. He says it’s essential that, alongside the academic qualifications, and the bright ideas that young people often have about a business they would like to have, they should have a firm grasp of what is needed to set up and run a business. It requires knowledge of many different aspects, not least of how to get funding and manage the money once you have it.
He talks again about his early experience of having his own business and how things have changed since then. For example, he had an excellent close working relationship with his bank manager that enabled him to access funds relatively easily in the early days, which is more difficult for many people.
So as part of this chamber of commerce initiative, they would run Dragon Den style sessions in the schools to really help the pupils grasp the bigger picture of running a business and being a business owner.
As John and Michael wind up their conversation, John shares some valuable marketing tips useful to any size of business from a solopreneur upwards. This conversation is full of useful information on marketing and the mindset of a successful business owner.
Michael CraneEntrepreneur, Business Owner, Presenter
Michael has built and runs a successful business for the last twenty years. He’s learned many lessons—some of them the hard way—and he’s met and talked with many other businesspeople. He’s sold thousands of products and learnt the one hundred and one things needed to run a thriving business. Now he’s bringing this knowledge and experience to educate, motivate and inspire other entrepreneurs.
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