Vikas Shah MBE – Q&A
Monday, September 2, 2019
Vikas Shah MBE, host of Venturefest North West, discusses his own experience of business growth, the opportunities on offer to businesses in the region and the importance of collaborative events.
In my experience, starting a business is the easy bit – growing a business is hard.
It’s really important that each and every day you approach running a business with humility. Ask questions, admit what you don’t know, take advice, take mentorship and keep learning.
There are so many lessons in business, but two of the most important are people and money. Firstly, your business will only ever be as good as the people within it – so make a point of hiring the absolute best people you can afford and give them the freedom to get on with their work!
Secondly, when it comes to money, you have to realise that if money is your goal, you may be in the wrong career. I have never met an entrepreneur who made money because that was the aim. Of course you want your business to be profitable, but to build a successful business you have to be motivated by something bigger than money - a mission!
I love what I do and get a real buzz coming into the offices every single day – if I didn’t, that would be the day to stop!
For me, motivation comes from a lot of different areas. I love to build things, I like to feel intellectually challenged every day, but I also love to compete – the business world gives me the chance to do all of those things.
I also love the opportunities that business gives you. As your company becomes more successful, you have the freedom and the opportunity to engage more in the community, to give something back and also to grow other businesses around you as an investor. Those areas can be extremely satisfying too.
I’m always utterly disappointed by the myth perpetuated in entrepreneurial circles that unless you do 20hr days and unless you sacrifice everything you won’t succeed… it’s total nonsense.
The absolute bottom line is that unless you are healthy, your business won’t be – and that means you need to be emotionally and physically healthy and resilient.
No business is an island. You have to network, collaborate and share if you want to grow.
It is, however, really important that you apply logic and care to approaching all of these areas. I’ve seen too many start-ups (in particular) who convince themselves that networking is equivalent to getting stuck into building out their product or service.
Your time is extremely valuable and you have to make sure that if you give your time to network or collaborate that you really, genuinely, have a plan to see how your business will measurably benefit from doing so. If you do it right, these are some of the most powerful tools in your growth arsenal.
Greater Manchester and the wider region are extremely well-placed to do business.
We have well-developed ecosystems for many sectors, great talent, and proximity to the infrastructure any business needs to grow. We also have the advantage of very progressive cities who have built excellent support networks to help entrepreneurs on their journey.
We’re extremely lucky to have a city filled with extraordinary leaders in business who have built companies that form our economic and social backbone. The ones I admire most are those who have really taken a chance on the city and helped it grow; the Mike Oglesbys, the Tom Bloxhams, the Mike Ingalls, entrepreneurs who have built the places that we call home and where we work. They have been truly transformational in the journey of Manchester as a place.
For me, Venturefest is one of those cannot miss events in the Manchester calendar.
It’s something that brings together thousands of people from all across the business community – all industries, services, products and stages of growth. The thing I most look forward to at Venturefest are the unlikely collisions and conversations, you just never know who you will meet!
Whatever your sector or stage of growth, you will definitely gain from attending Venturefest – finding new partners, customers, or even investors. It’s a real meeting point for the GM and north-west business community.
Nitin Rai (Venturefest Keynote Speaker) has been a good friend for many years – he’s one of the most inspiring and interesting people I’ve met from the global investment world. His approach to investing is as unique as he is, and I’m excited to share that in our conversation.