Tag Archives: entrepreneurial environment

Top 10 Enterprise Movies of All TIme

During the Christmas holiday I got asked to name my top ten films and as always its hard to bring it down to just ten, but then I thought about what have these movies teaches me about business or enterprise.

So here goes…

Stardust (2007)

“having a dream, passion and a little determination is all you need”

Our hero needs to track down a fallen star, living in a small village in Kent, he heads over the local boundary wall only to find its a magically world. Its a great movie and Robert De Niro plays a cross dressing captain is just a surreal part.

Its the story of EVERY entrepreneur I have ever meet, they have a dream, some passion and didn’t really know what the end game would be, but they were determined to see it through. We celebrate those that succeed but we should encourage everyone to have a go, as these people create wealth, innovation and more importantly experience.

Godfather (1972+)

“Pivoting an established business is extremely hard, so do it early on”

Michael tries to change the business activities of his family business and even with all his wealth and influence he fails.

I have seen this so many times in my career. Motorola was the greatest mobile phone manufacturer in the world, developing first generation phones (1G) and then Nokia started developing 2G phones and Motorola never really got into the digital game. Then Samsung took the 3G market with bigger screens and apps and Apple is the current power house with 4G phones. This is not even a pivot its an upgrade to me and you, but these businesses can not do it, so learn early on in your business and get it right. It may be your only chance.

Star Wars (1977+)

“The small business has more opportunities than the larger “death star” businesses, however its in the execution”

Lean methodology is key to setting off but for today’s business small is best. Think of Arm or Superdry which are amazing companies who outsource or create business models which mean they don’t employ thousands of people installed in the “death star”. Get yourself an Millennium Falcon and just keep the hyper drive working.

Apocalypse now (1979)

“Know your enemy better than yourself”

I just love this movie, its about a journey that we all take, a physical and mental one. Each journey changes us and that change is inconceivable at the start.

The best line in the movie being “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” which alway reminds me on the business mantra “Eat a toad every morning”. This is a Mark Twain saying and aims to get you doing the worst job first every day, then the day can only get better.

This analysis of your enemy and then eventual destruction of them is a very common business theme, however the real message is that by learning their strengths and especially their weaknesses we can become better entrepreneurs. Its sometimes hard to learn other people’s weaknesses but certainly we should identify our own and seek the support they need.

Avanti (1972)

“In every business there is value”

Jack Lemmon did some great films, such as “Some like it hot” but this one is my favourite, bit of a romcom set in Italy. The comedy is just excellent and the settings are just breath taking. The story line is that Jack Lemmon must go to the Italian island of Ischia to claim the body of his millionaire father, only to find his father took more than the local spa each day.

It really shows how cultures clash and that different business methods may seem odd or just outdated, yet just taking the time to understand the culture and the business methods allows you to then extract the true value. We are very keen to adopt new technology and business methods without understanding the processes and methods which have worked for thousands of years.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

“Sometimes you need someone else to help you”

Everyone should spend time with hitmen who have a penchant for philosophical discussions, especially around the foody topic of Hamburgers. However when they get into trouble its Mr Wolf they turn to.

Every entrepreneur should have Mr Wolf, “I solve problems” who they can call on. This may be a mentor, a consultant or advisor who can come in and just sort out the issue. Everyone has a skills gap in one area, a thing that bugs them or they just can’t get their head around. You have to have one of these “Mr Wolf” people who can come in and solve it. Your’ll never look back.

Hairspray (2007)

“You don’t have to ever grow your business”

Everyone loves a musical, a man playing a dame and a dance off. Its the secret ingredient for a great movie. Mr Wilbur Turnblad has been running his joke shop for a lifetime and yet he is still enjoying every day of it. Making it bigger will take the real fun out of it and also create a set of issues which he doesn’t want to present to his family. So small is beautiful in this case for him.

The incredibles (2004)

“Family businesses are stronger”

Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl never worked together as superheroes until they have to protect the family. Each family has a different super power which enhances the whole team to beat off Syndrome. This is true for every team, everyone have something to offer, sometimes mundane is the most important skill to have. (e.g a good cup of tea when sailing in a force 10 gale is just awesome)

The best quote from the movie is “Everyone can be super. And when everyone’s super, no one will be.” which shows we need everyone to be different otherwise we have nothing special.

Avatar (2009)

“Go in prepared”

You can have the best trained soldiers, biggest guns and latest technology and you still may lose the fight. Sometimes its more about the hearts and minds which win the battle, so you need to prepare these to fulfil your goal. Just don’t forget it.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)


This movie shows you can create a business which is solely focused on sales and there are still a large number of these around, the modern day call centre is an example. However the loyalty you get from looking after you staff is a major mantra for this movie.

The number one thing you have to do in a business is sell, no matter what business it is, a Charity, Religion, Social Enterprise or PLC. You have to get people to part with their cash on a regular basis to ensure you are solvent.

Also it shows that the name of your business is everything “Stratton Oakmont”. These people travelled across on the Mayflower and thus can be trusted.

Hopefully you have enjoyed hearing my top 10 enterprise movies.

The trinty structure for an entrepreneurship centre

Last week I attended GCEC 2014 and was able to spend time with practitioners of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. It was a very worthwhile experience, especially when so many of them were from the USA which have a much more advanced culture of enterprise.

It became clear to me that there are three elements for a successful entrepreneurship centre within a University:

Entrepreneurship Research

Everyone knows if you start a business in Silicon Valley its great for technology businesses and the eco-system, network and financial institutions are set up to start, grow and IPO these businesses. This is a one place and the rest us don’t live there or want to start a high tech high growth business. This eco-system DOES NOT exist in any other part of the world. Cambridge also has its own eco-system. So we would expect each location, cluster and university to have a set of features that facilitate the growth of certain businesses? We would expect the university to have researched these and further more be able to articulate this through its research papers, education programmes and practical support for startups and growth businesses.

Enterprise & Entrepreneur Education

The core business of a university is education. We are experiencing great changes in the higher education environment and universities need to react in real time to the needs of their students and business community. The majority of universities in the UK get more revenue from CPD training than research grants. This is why local business is so important to them, as it provides a great sustainable revenue stream and also the opportunity to understand their local business needs, which helps feed the research. It also brings educators from cross disciplines together which is needed to build robust community focused institutions.

Enterprise Practice

The development of students into entrepreneurs and the development of entrepreneurs to leaders of high growth businesses is the most important part of the trinity. It enables the university to substantiate its research in the ‘real world’ environment and provide a practical outlet for the costly education resources. Moreover, it provides the feedback loop which all research and educators need to contextualize the theory.

I know some universities in the UK have some of these parts, but there is not one University in the UK, which ensures these three parts work together for the common development of the university and its community.

Looking forward to hear from those that think they do!!!

Why is student led enterprise so important?

It is universal accepted by policy-makers, businesses and academics that entrepreneurship is an essential skill for the survival and advancement of both large and small businesses. Therefore, an important skill to obtain whilst at university or college. There is also strong evidence exists that educational programmes in entrepreneurship have a positive effect on developing individuals’ entrepreneurial attributes (The Impact of Entrepreneurship Education on Entrepreneurial Intention), raising awareness of career options in entrepreneurship and advancing a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship.

However, its in the extra curricular activities that the students mindset is developed, through empowerment, self actualization and the further development of the entrepreneurial mindset. This is bore out with the wikipida definition of Entrepreneurship which is the act and art of being an entrepreneur or one who undertakes innovations or introducing new things, finance and business acumen in an effort to transform innovations into economic goods.

This means that the development of the entrepreneur is through experimentation, the tried and tested process of trial and error, with reflection and fine running at each stage. Never giving up but also taking a clear judgment of the progress and opportunities. This was presented by Peter Honey and Alan Mumford’s model (based on David Kolb’s model of experiential learning  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_styles).

This is why student led societies are so important in the development of enterprise within our universities and colleges.  If we list of attributes of an entrepreneur we can start to see why Societies are great places for the development of these skills and why employers should be looking for these students.

1. Ambition. Society leaders not only want to be successful, they need to be successful, driven by the ambition they put in 70 hour weeks. They are obsessed by their sports, the goals of the society (RAG, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rag_%28student_society%29) and also driven to ensure they will leave the society in better shape than any previous leader.

2. Persistence. Failure is not an option. However learning from your mistakes, failures and the continual persistence to drive forward to create a winning team. I see societies such as the Eco-House Initiative (http://www.ecohouseinitiative.org/ who gained RBS ESSA Accreditation) who are trying to fix major world problems whilst still a student society.

3. Creativity. Solving problems is the name of the game. Developing solutions for life’s problems creates opportunities , if its trying to run five minibuses for the team, developing a speaker series (http://manchesterentrepreneurs.org.uk/events) of successful entrepreneur on no budget or organizing twenty committee members to be in one place.

4.  Tenacity. Everyone learns to the walk the same way, you try to stand, fall over, try again, fall over again and continue with this, many many times until you get it right. You know you will succeed, everyone around you walks. So just be stubborn and get on with it. Again sports teams know this, other societies learn it over a period of time.

5. Risk tolerance. Life is full of risks, we survive by learning to gauge, understand and control these to an acceptable level. However, it’s the tolerance to risk which is personal, some people like to take larger risks than others. So standing for president of a society may be too risky for some, as failure and ridicule are too much to handle. Others will see this as an opportunity to promote themselves and get to know a wider social circle which ensures the have a more powerful network. The management of the society also handles risk as any other business, and this learning within a society is invaluable when applied to business.

6. Personality. People like people who like them, so developing your personality whilst at university is, some will say the only reason, the main reason to go to university. Whilst some of the most successful entrepreneurs are geeks, the majority of successful people have a great personality, which engages others. In most societies the leaders are voted in and therefore presenting and conveying your personality is important for a successful outcome.

7. Communications. In a worlds with several social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, pin interest, Youtube..) and emails coming in from all directions, the average student is very difficult to get hold of. The importance is understanding the medium which works with your community and putting in a way your audience understands.

8. Leadership. While an entrepreneurial leader organizes and assumes the risk of his or her society, there will likely be others who follow to help make the society a success, typically a management team. Managing members and key team members is an important ingredient for a successful entrepreneur. Motivating the team to take 400 students on a skiing trip (http://theessa.com/case-study/skum-2/#.UV6aFxlAuBU) might sound easy but the research, planning, resource allocation and responsibility can not be under estimated.

9. Adaptability. The average society has around 200 members from numerous schools which run their own timetable. Change is inevitable and is the only constant in an evolving world. An entrepreneur leader will adapt to technology, market trends, financial pressures and their customers/members. Those that have tried to organize students will know that adaptability is the core skill.

10. Intuition. Understanding the trends and having an idea of what people want without doing a market survey (Steve Jobs never did one market survey) will allow our entrepreneurial leader to have a vision which others can only buy-in to and also have to follow.

This is why being part of a society is so important in developing student enterprise and also creating an entrepreneurial environment for students to learn and tune these valuable skills. Enterprise Societies can help create this space for student reflection on their extra curricular activities.