Small businesses will be the key to driving Yorkshire ahead, according to DFS founder Lord Kirkham as he hailed the Yorkshire's world-leading attributes at an event offering an insight into some of the region's most successful businesses.
Lord Kirkham described himself as a "million per cent Yorkshireman" and said the region was a leader in a number of fields and "massively successful".
As we emerge from the double-dip recession, he said Yorkshire was well placed to succeed, adding: "SMEs will be the key to driving us out of the recession and bringing success to Yorkshire. And, you can already see that happening. There's a real buzz in the air and its an exciting time to be a Yorkshire business."
He was speaking at a Connect Gazelles event which attracted 200 of Yorkshire's business elite alongside the next generation of entrepreneurial stars. In addition to a social media seminar, the event opened with rare insights into finding success from Lord Kirkham, recently ranked number one in Insider's 2012 Rich List with a £1.1bn fortune, GHD founder Martin Penny and former chief executive of Sage Group Paul Walker.
When it came to building a successful business, Kirkham described the internet as the biggest opportunity he had seen in his lifetime and said: "There are many routes to the same destination in business, you have to look at all the options and have a go.
"The real key to success, and its hackneyed I know, is culture and your people. Culture really is everything. Everybody in the business needs to be on the same wavelength and have the same aspirations and goals.
"You should be in the business of making profit, but succeeding at that is all about the people you recruit."
Martin Penny grew GHD from nothing to a £150m business in just ten years, but modestly said he was just lucky.
He explained: "The key to our success was having a great product that we could sell at a premium price. Once we won over the salons, our brand grew rapidly through word of mouth.
"People are very much into the price and believing it makes it a quality product. We decided early on not to sell out to the high street and that decision to remain loyal to our salon outlets helped to distinguish the brand and make it desirable.
"When it comes to success, it took me 20 years to realise it, but your people are the most important asset. They are the heart of the business and most want to contribute, be recognised and be fulfilled.
"It's important to value your people and what I’ve learned is that its important to occasionally sit people down and thank them properly.
"Also, you need to stick your head above the parapet. Find a different way to engage with your customer and make the most of your unique selling points."
Source - Insider Media Limited - www.insidermedia.com