Bravery in business and having the confidence to accept change were central themes of a major conference for entrepreneurs in the North East.
Around 150 business owners who came together for the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s Fortune Favours the Brave event at Wynyard Hall yesterday.
Keynote speaker George Clarke, architect and presenter of The Restoration Man and Amazing Spaces, returned to his native North East to share his passion for transforming buildings and innovation, telling how a design teacher at Oxclose School in Washington helped turn his love of building into a career by introducing him to a local architect.
“For a school teacher to take the initiative and care that much to take me there and see if I’d be inspired was brilliant. It changed my life,” he said.
Earlier the conference, held during Global Entrepreneurship Week, had heard from motivational speaker Paul McGee, author of the best selling book SUMO, or ‘shut up, move on’.
He recommended delegates to “get off auto pilot” and accept that, while change might feel uncomfortable and challenging, it was also exciting.
Pamela Petty, managing director of North East manufacturing success story EBac, talked through the practical steps to create a successful business.
She said: “Don’t ever be afraid of making profit, it’s not a four letter word and it creates wealth and jobs.”
EBac, which has enjoyed global success with its water cooler and dehumidifiers and has brought washing machine manufacture back to Britain, underwent significant change when the business was put into a foundation trust, so it has no shareholders.
“We didn’t think about it for more than a day,” admitted Pamela, who is also a Forum board member.
“Putting it into a foundation was daunting but EBac is EBac, it’s not for the benefit of just the family, it’s far more important; it’s for the people who work there. And dad will still be controlling it when he’s six foot under.”
Delegates were also encouraged to seek support from others, a central ethos of the Forum.
Board member and founder of event sponsor Recognition PR, Graham Robb said: “Being in business is a bit like being a high wire trapeze artist. You may be experienced but you still have to get on the wire whether there’s a safety net or not.
“There isn’t a trade union for entrepreneurship, but in the Forum there is a sense of fellowship. We have a duty to mentor and support the new businesses that will create the jobs that will make our region successful and prosperous.”