Entrepreneur Kevin Gaskell on making a successful business

He’s written a book packed with real world advice based on his own career, explaining how best to use the tools in your business armoury.

Kevin Gaskell is a businessman who revived Porsche GB, boosted BMW GB’s profits by 500% and has built 15 companies. His latest book is Catching Giants, in which he shares 80 step-by-step lessons on how to build a world class business and create an exceptional team. We asked him to give us a few tips.

What do you think the biggest roadblock is to a person just starting up their own business and how can you solve it?

The biggest barrier is usually the fear of stepping out of paid employment. This is closely followed by the uncertainty and lack of knowledge about how to actually form a company, implement the processes of providing a service, and then managing the development of a business including employing staff, filing accounts, dealing with VAT etc. I am creating a new enterprise called Smarter Britain which guides prospective entrepreneurs through all of the steps to forming a company and provides specialist backing including financial and marketing advice and an experienced mentor to provide support through the process.

Is now a good time to strike out on your own?

Now is an ideal time to begin the journey as an entrepreneur. The pandemic has caused many established companies to rethink their strategy and turbulence always creates opportunities.

How do you think family-friendly policies can help a small business compete?

I believe that hybrid working is here to stay. Allowing staff to work flexible hours to fit in with personal or family requirements is something that I have long supported. In a small business it is critically important to be responsive, agile and available for clients. Family friendly policies which attract staff and retain them are a positive part of building a culture of accountability and flexibility. This is the basis on which to develop extraordinary customer service both within and outside normal working hours.

Do you think businesses do enough when it comes to family-friendly policies and what would you like to see?

Unfortunately, I believe that too many companies adopt unnecessarily strict and pointlessly standard policies with regard to personal and family commitments. I would prefer to see more examples of business culture where the team are aware of, and accountable for, the performance of the business but are given freedom to achieve that within broad and flexible guidelines.

How do you see the corporate world moving forward? With all the talk of the Great Resignation and the fight for good employees and hybridity – where do you think the battles will be won and lost?

I don’t see it any different than it has always been. I believe that people prefer to work in organisations where their contribution is valued and respected. This means that they have a clear understanding of what success for the business looks like and how they can play a part in achieving it. Companies which demonstrate a culture of inclusion and team achievement will always be attractive to capable individuals. The battles are won and lost by the leadership style which is predominant in the business. Those companies which develop capable leaders who inspire teams will be the winners.

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