Richard Farleigh of Dragons Den fame recently attended the 2012 Cheshire Business Expo at Portal, Tarporley, giving an inspirational talk about his own journey to success to a packed audience of local business leaders.
Born in Victoria, Australia, Farleigh claimed his ancestors were of criminal descent. As one of eleven children and spent part of his childhood in an orphanage, demonstrating you don’t have to come from a privileged background to be successful.
After studying maths and economics at university he went into investment banking dealing in derivatives and thereafter as a proprietary trading dealer. Risk taking was part of his daily life. At one time he could have been the highest paid hedge fund manager in the world. He retired after making a fortune and went on to represent his country in chess at the Mexico Olympics.
He spoke about the importance of ‘fear’ when starting a business and told the audience of a company called Mega Brands that he started with Pat Cash the tennis player. Here he explained his idea that some businesses must operate at a loss to initially gain market share and that “monetisation happens later.”
He also cited universities as a great source of ideas but went onto explain that ideas themselves were worth nothing and that “execution was everything.”
He was a seed investor for net-a-porter.com an online fashion company that eventually floated for £500m. Farleigh claimed that businesses could be looked at as systems of trial and error, and that from his experience, operating them always costs more than you think. He then spoke about the importance of taking little risk where you can. Maid2clean has always taken the same stance when launching franchisees businesses and franchising is seen as a low-risk entry into business.
“Trade from home if you can” Farleigh claimed, (something else Maid2clean recommends). He cunningly recommended going to trade shows, not as an exhibitor but to sell to the exhibitors.
Farleigh has taken 15 companies to floatation on AIM and cited Scottish manufacturer Wolfson as one of his better investments.
Next his talk moved onto Dragon’s Den and said that the program is probably not the best barometer from which to measure a business by, giving the fictitious example that Alexander Fleming would probably have been missed by the Dragons if he turned up with a petri dish full of mould. He was one of the original backers of Reggae Reggae Sauce and claimed that “Levi Roots, not the Sauce” was a huge USP of the brand and one of the inspirations to invest in that business.”
“Listening to how successful entrepreneurs like Farleigh have made it is truly inspiring. Compared to most of Farleigh’s investments, I’m pleased to say our franchisees see the Maid2Clean franchise as a much lower risk” said Mike Hanrahan.