LEADING entrepreneurs at a major conference in the North East have spoken of the moments of revelation and leaps of faith that transformed the life of their businesses.
Having the courage to seize chances and also to change direction in times of trouble emerged as strong themes at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s autumn conference in Gateshead.
More than 200 entrepreneurs and business leaders heard inspiring stories of determination and resilience both in bringing fortunes back from the brink, and creating soar-away success.
Bill Scott, the forum’s reigning Entrepreneur of the Year and chief executive of Teesside-based Wilton Group, highlighted key moments in the history of the company he founded in 1994.
Wilton has grown from a £600,000 turnover in its first year to £85m in 2012, on an upward trajectory where it is aiming for £100m and 1,000 employees.
Scott spoke of setting out to create large and dynamic business manufacturing complex structures that no one else wanted to do, thereby creating a niche.
He said: “Over the years, there have been things that made a difference, things I call the game-changers.
“Certain things happen in life when you have a chance and you’ve really got to take it while it’s there.”
Perhaps Scott’s biggest leap of faith was agreeing to purchase a 32-acre site at Port Clarence 10 times bigger than the business needed and without knowing the price.
But he stressed the importance of building the foundations of a successful company at the outset, such as making “a marriage vow” with business partners, creating a place where people enjoyed coming to work, and hiring non-executive directors and a PA.
Gilad Tiefenbrun joined Linn Products, the business started by his father, at a time of turmoil.
Renowned for quality music products produced by passionate innovators, Linn had diversified and fallen victim to the demands of big business to the point where it was laden with debt and on a downward spiral.
A deal with Aston Martin where the company wanted to provide the highest quality music system ever heard in a car saw a culture clash with profit-driven bosses from Ford, while internal management structures were weighing the business down.