James Mayes

Archive for the ‘Investment’ Category

Blog: Get a proper job

In Investment, Personal Development, Start-ups on June 23, 2011 at 11:38 am

Or, to go with the original Pink Floyd-inspired title:

We don’t need no… entrepreneurs!

I’m going to come right out and clear this one before I get into the intended post. I don’t consider myself an entrepreneur.  I’ve been involved in multiple start-up firms and undertaken freelance assignments on more than one occasion – but on the basis that I haven’t yet sold a hugely successful business, I can’t say I’ve achieved the position of a successful entrepreneur.  That being said, I’ll admit I love start-up culture and that I’ll continue to work in this environment until I make it!

So, the post itself.  Having taken the career route I have, you tend to notice patterns emerging in start-up life.  Many are well-documented, by both successful entrepreneurs and by the financiers who make it their business to back them. There’s one I’ve not yet read about yet though – so I thought I’d take a stab.  I’ll start with a question I’ve heard regularly over the past decade.

“When are you going to get a proper job?”

This, I think, accurately sums up what’s on my mind.  Running a freelance enterprise, working for yourself, creating a start-up business – these ARE proper jobs. As those who’ve tried it will tell you, it’s a fair way tougher than most 9-5 jobs you can name – you know, those ones with a big secure employer who pays you on time, where you can focus on just the responsibilities of your role, not having to be across absolutely everything?

I get the impression (and tell me if I’m wrong) that there are a vast swathe of people who think starting a company, or indeed running as a freelancer, is an easy ride – hence, “get a proper job”. Doing this start-up stuff is unbelievably tough, in both time commitments and mental attitude. It takes it’s toll on your family too, who constantly worry if you’re still going to be in business next week, next month, etc.

This is how EVERY business starts. It’s good for the economy, it’s great for innovation, yet somehow many people don’t take it seriously.  I wanna know why! Is it because they don’t understand? It’s viewed as non-conformist? An easy ride? Because others would like to, but are scared?

I’ll come back to this in future, but for now, I’d love your thoughts. I’d also like to share an image with you.  When I started writing this, I wasn’t going to have a graphic on here – some posts do, some don’t. However, I stumbled across this. Sums up nicely why I’m quite happy risking it all on a start-up, every time.

Blog: Have you tried hiring a failure?

In Investment, Mobile, Personal Development, Recruitment, Social Media, Start-ups on March 7, 2011 at 11:59 am

Being a veteran recruiter, I enjoyed those heady days of the dotcom boom – the activity, the buzz of the market and yes, the money was good too.  There’s one particular recruitment story that stays with me from that time though – and as we’re in the middle of what some would describe as a similar boom, this time with Social Media tech sites, it’s been back on my mind.

Back then, one of my clients was a start-up firm in London.  They were building something around mobile payment technology,  had a great technical team and finance in place.  However, they weren’t that hot on the operational aspects of running a business.  I had a great relationship with the CTO & CEO and over lunch, we got talking about the next big hire they wanted – a highly experienced Operations person, potentially to become COO.

The specification was fairly simple – involvement in finances, some business development, business planning, staffing – generally keeping the company in good trim.  Then it got interesting though….  they wanted a failure. They were specifically looking for someone who’d been involved in start-up life, preferably on more than one occasion, and had a demonstrable track record of working in failed businesses.


They reasoned that if a business succeeded, it could have been down to great staff. Equally, it could have been down to timing, market conditions, lack of competition, luck…

If any of these things had been the key factor, it’s probable the business would have succeeded, to some extent or other, with very little personal analysis of why that had happened.  With a failure though, reasons are often so much clearer – making it easier to ascertain what an individual had actually learnt.

For sure, you can hire someone who’s been a success AND been smart enough to define why it was successful – but will they have experienced (and learnt) as much as someone who’s been through the pain?

I’m sure there are differences of opinion on this one – for me though, it’s always good to see another perspective! By the way – if you enjoyed this one, I wrote a post a while back on the subject of Educating for Failure – you might appreciate that too…

Image credit.

Educating the money?

In Investment, Personal Development, Start-ups, SXSWi on March 13, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Second day at SXSW (now abbreviated to “South by”). Feeling thoroughly acclimatised with Austin, I could spend some serious time here. The town’s got a great vibe – and a sense that it’s not just for SXSW.  Feet are starting to ache, but the general view seems to be you just kill the pain with beer, then drink coffee to keep yourself going!  Not convinced, but when in Rome….

OK, so today’s news?  A GREAT panel this morning, focussed around where entrepreneurs come from. Are they born? Are they nurtured by mentors? Are they a product of environment?  Differing views, as you would expect from a widely experienced panel operating on both sides of the pond, but also points all agreed on.  One I particularly liked came from Doug Richards (in bullish good form and highly entertaining!) on the subject of investors.  There are schools for start-ups and support organisations, in addition to a wealth of online information – but very little of this caters to first-time investors.

There are many out there who’ve had an idea or built a business and as a result, have some capital to invest.  Maybe they miss the start-up buzz, maybe they want to put something back into the community, maybe they just want to make money. Whatever the reason, these people are coming at investing from the other side of the table – and maybe there should be more support out there for them. In these times of recession, it could well accelerate economic recovery by encouraging capital out into the market from corners where previously, fear or lack of knowledge has held it back.

Any takers?

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