Soap, Madeleines and a Barbershop
No these aren’t the new ventures of Jack Dorsey, but instead three of the businesses that are using his recent invention of Square.
The event was at One Birdcage Walk in Westminster and hosted by Enterprise Nation. The first section of the evening included a panel of individuals who had started their own business – Mahawa, Ted and Caroline.
Mahawa was on maternity leave and her daughter developed a skin condition, keen to solve the problem, she created her own soap.
Her advice – don’t be afraid to start small. It was really refreshing to hear the focus she placed on being process-driven. She stated the business can’t die with her and that she has written manuals of all the systems in place. Something most bigger companies fail to do, let alone start ups! I agreed with her next point – while you should pay an accountant, you still need to understand your profit and loss! Not enough businesses think this in my opinion.
Caroline had a different story took the plunge and left her full-time job and created a merger with another company to start an e-bakery for madeleines from a traditional French recipe.
Ted was previously in the Army and fed up with getting his hands dirty so decided to become a barber. He decided to learn from working in a salon before starting his own salon (Sweeney Ted’s Barbers, Holywell). This is so important! Some entrepreneurs I work with, end up going back into employment for a period because they realise they need to learn their trade a bit better before doing it for themselves! Really interesting how Square has helped Holywell take back its high street and become somewhere people will purposely go and shop in now. Ted seemed very proud of the community spirit there.
It was interesting to hear their different stories of how they came to be in business.
Thinking Big with Jack Dorsey
The main event was an interview with Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Square and co-founder and CEO of Twitter. He seemed very relaxed and genuinely interested to be there.
When asked how he defined being an entrepreneur, he said an entrepreneur was someone that does what they love and will do whatever it takes to make it work, usually needing to make a sacrifice along the way (which is typically financial). I do wish all entrepreneurs would realise this! It’s hard!
Give Me Solutions
Jack stated that when interviewing someone, he wants to be told what Square is doing wrong and how they can do it better. He wants someone who will give solutions rather than just tell him how amazing the company is. He seemed very switched on with what makes a successful business rather than after an ego boost.
Everyone Needs to Start Somewhere
Emma (the interviewer) raised that he’d been in software previously and how did he make that jump across to hardware. He said he read a 700-page VISA manual to try and develop his Square product and it was very dry reading! I thought it was great that he acknowledged you can’t just skip to the fun part.
He also explained how the magnetic strip on the back of a credit card is like a cassette tape but to listen to it is awful. It was interesting to listen to and he really seemed to know his stuff.
Sometimes People Do It Better Than You
When asked why he bought Weebly rather than making his own web hosting company, he stated that ‘sometimes people do it better than you’. It’s good to hear even someone like Jack, outsources sometimes. Collaboration is key!
A Sense of Purpose
When asked about retaining staff he talked about people being motivated by a sense of purpose which I think is really true. He spoke about making sure everyone was aware of why they were important to the business.
Emma raised that his values were simplicity, constraint and craftsmanship which interested me.
He spoke about critical thinking and asking essential questions being key to personal development and how he likes to take himself to the limit of things to find balance.
Keeping Small Business in Business
He also sounded genuinely passionate about keeping small business in business and hopes his new venture Square will help do this. He accepts that some businesses aim to stay small, talking about his mother owning a coffee shop and only wishing to employ family and that being okay!
I’ve worked with such a wide range of businesses and it is so important that they set the goals, not the adviser. One business I worked aspired to employ numerous staff and turnover over a million, another wanted something part-time to support raising a family. Both became successful in their goals.
He didn’t mention Twitter, and you know what no-one asked either. He was interesting to listen to anyway and I think people felt a certain level of respect for him and what he was there to discuss.
Square found that over 50% of small businesses don’t accept card payments despite 47% of shoppers preferring to pay by card. Square has established partnerships in communities to accept card payments, an example being Holywell. Despite being someone who has made millions through online ventures, he seems keen to save the high street, something I’m very passionate about too.