QUALIFIED journalist Marc Ainscough, 52, pictured, runs marketing and communications start-up business nable from Berkhamsted. Here we find what makes him tick.
What are your business qualifications?
MIDM, APMI, FPC, Diploma in Journalism
Do you think business leadership can be taught or is it something that comes from a natural instinct?
Leaders are generally born with a set of characteristics that mark them out as leaders – self belief, confidence, a clarity of vision, instincts, being counter intuitive, obsessive focus on the big picture and empathy with others in the team. That is not to say that management skills cannot be taught, they can and should. There are many examples of highly competent and trained CEOs of plcs doing the job very well by the book. The true leaders, the ones that break the mould, are the revolutionaries like Richard Branson, David Ogilvy, Philip Green, Steve Jobs, Terry Leahy, Warren Buffet and those that have the self will to overcome prejudice and misfortune – Mandela, etc.
What is the name of your main business and what does it do?
Marketing and communications led business nable, with additional commercial interests in social media, wealth management services and specialist tax planning for businesses and private clients. We seek to help our clients through the adoption of better marketing disciplines and also ensure that they protect their hard earned wealth through financial and tax management.
We aim to be a true counsel to business – a trusted advisor with exceptionally high standards of service. For this reason we limit the number of client accounts our team can advise on at any moment in time so these standards are nor prejudiced in any way.
What was the turnover of your main business in the last reporting period?
Negligible as we are a start up business and currently relying on shareholder funds. 0ver the past few years we have been building our partnership infrastructure and advisory team and getting ready for launch of a series of products and services.
Where would you like the business to be in 10 years’ time?
We have no aspirations to be a global brand or international wealth management practice – our focus in each of the geographic areas we are represented is 60 to 80 core clients with a long term business relationship of mutual respect and value.
We currently have regional offices in Berkhamsted, Northern Ireland, south Wales, Scotland and Yorkshire.
What positives can you extract from current economic conditions?
Building a business in marketing and communications when times are tough is a big ask – as marketing and advertising budgets with potential clients have been slashed across the board. As part of what we do is spend money more effectively (highly competitive fee rates through outsourcing much of our infrastructure, adoption of new techniques such as social media) and helping clients improve the bottom line through expert tax expertise we are beginning to make good inroads.
If anything, the multi disciplinary service we offer is a reaction to these markets and we are filling a gap in the market for this.
What motivates you to get up in the morning and go to work?
Family, absolutely. Nothing else comes close. Sure we all want nice things but as a family we have been through some tough times over the past few years and collectively we have been resilient. This mutual support is vital.
What is the most important thing in life and why?
If I don’t say my family I might not be seen in Berkhamsted again.
At what age do you aim to retire and what will you do after that point?
Retirement is not on the agenda for now. Children are expensive.
If you have a partner, what do they do:
Project management for a healthcare company.
What extra subject should be placed on the curriculum?
Communication! Because that’s what marks us out from others we share the planet with and because we are continually bombarded by all forms of communication – print and broadcast media, books and literature, social media, fashion, music, film and theatre.
Have you ever had to sack someone on the spot and why?
No. There is a right way to do things and such reactive management is unlikely to be called for.
What percentage of your success is inspiration?
80 percent. Inspiration is a gut feel – years of acquired knowledge quickly assimilated by the brain to give a unique insight. That’s how we evolve as a species – we keep looking for better ways to do something,
What percentage of your success is perspiration?
Once the inspiration is turned into a strategy, it’s 80 per cent perspiration. And yes, working smart is essential.
Who is your inspiration in business and why?
Richard Branson. Gutsy, insightful, thinks way out of the box, takes on monopolies and the accepted wisdom to create better consumer value, has fun, doesn’t take himself or business too seriously.
What time do you get up on a working day?
How do you switch off and relax?
Music – live where possible. Reading, films, cycling, family time.
How do you measure business success?
Apart from the obvious, by the success of our clients. If we help our clients effectively, that helps our business. And it’s a great feeling to see other people succeed.
What is your favourite piece of business jargon and why?
“You don’t need to be serious to be professional”. Sometimes I’m too serious and it’s good to remember that life’s meant to be fun. I also love Pareto. How true is that. Every client I have gets 80 per cent of revenue, value, fun etc from 20 per cent of their clients – it’s a universal law.
What is the most pointless piece of red tape you’ve had to deal with?
The Financial Services Authority.
Where does your confidence come from?
Irrationally positive self image problem from an early age and not having had it easy means having to overcome many personal and business problems – and that just makes you stronger.
How do you ensure that people don’t go to sleep in meetings?
Keep them short and to an agenda. My job is listening so I’m in more danger of going to sleep if they ramble on. My initial client meeting is always one hour and I listen for 45 minutes of that.