How Can Duncan Bannatyne Spend So Much Time on TV and Still Grow a Multi-Million Pound Business?

Some years ago, I interviewed Duncan Bannatyne as part of my research into high-performing entrepreneurs. The first time I first met him, Duncan wasn’t as famous as he is today; he hadn’t yet starred in Dragons’ Den. However, he was a hyper-successful entrepreneur who was listed in the Sunday Times Rich List and could freely choose how he spent his time. In fact, Duncan had bid £7,000 at a charity auction and won a walk-on-part in a Guy Richie movie. He enjoyed it so much, he decided he wanted to become an actor – and let his people run his companies (in here is a clue to Duncan’s success!)

He told me he’d just finished studying at the New York Film Academy, which is off the Strand near Trafalgar Square in London, but his subsequent auditions hadn’t gone well. Even with this lack of success in the movies, his star quality and ‘winning smile’ shone through, and it’s no surprise to me that Duncan has become a household name for his TV work.

I interviewed Duncan at the Park Lane hotel in Piccadilly, asking the same questions I had asked many UK entrepreneurs.

Duncan said one thing to me that day which, at the time, didn’t register with the potency it does now as I look back and reflect on those particular words.

He told me he had a Board meeting the following day and that he should have looked at his accounts but didn’t because he knew they were going to be fantastic.

How did Duncan know? He knew because he had people in his company who thought and acted like him. He had people he could trust in his absence to run the business and make decisions for him, while he went off pursuing his own acting career, and in later years his own television career.

His people think and act like business owners.

Let’s look at what is going on in the mind of a business owner, the mind of somebody like Duncan Bannatyne, and the mindset and attitude you need to develop in your own employees, so that they too think, act and make decisions like a business owner.

1. Confidence and Belief

The starting point for success for any great business leader is true inner self-belief and confidence.

·Confidence in your own ability to achieve the goals you set out to achieve.
·Confidence that you can overcome any obstacles.
·Confidence that you can make your customers believe in and buy from you.

Simply put, if entrepreneurs didn’t believe in the businesses they set out to create, they wouldn’t start in the first place, because they wouldn’t be able to make the team believe or their customers believe.

Your employees need to share the same level of inner confidence as someone like Duncan.

Anybody that has a vision and takes it personally upon themselves to create a business needs to have within them an unswerving, unshakable resolve, which becomes something of substance that other people can buy into and believe in.

It goes back to the very simple fact that if you don’t believe in what you are doing you can’t make your team believe. If your team don’t believe, they can’t make your customers believe. If your customers don’t believe, they won’t buy, buy again, or recommend you. So belief is the starting point.

2. Passion and Desire

The next core trait of a business owner, or someone like Duncan, is passion and a pure unadulterated love of what they’re doing.

Passion is the fuel that drives you forward, it provides momentum and energy, and is infectious. People around you will be inspired by your passion and will pass on that energy to their team. This feeling will be conveyed to your customers who will then be compelled to buy from you.

It’s your job as the business leader to instil your passion in every member of your team.

Customers pick up on passion and belief. It is a company’s passion and belief that customers buy into.

If you show passion and deep belief in everything you do, you give your customers a memorable and remarkable experience which they will want to share with others.

But, if your employees don’t share your level of passion and belief for the business, then as a company you will never achieve high levels of success and fulfil your true potential.

Clearly people like the Barman lack that passion and desire, and if you have employees like him, you’ll never be able to create a business which customers can believe in and buy from.

Whereas if you have people like Paolo who love their job, and demonstrate business-owner-thinking, they will exude an inner confidence and passion for what they do, which in turn will send out viral shock waves into the market about how excellent your company is.

3. Courage

The third element of the mindset of a business owner is courage and the confidence to step outside your comfort zone.

So much about success at a personal and business level comes down to having the confidence and courage to conquer your own inner fears, doubts and limiting beliefs. It’s having the courage to do the very things that you are uncomfortable doing.

You only have to look at one entrepreneur, Richard Branson, who (by his own admission) is a shy person and uncomfortable in public speaking situations.

However, he knew only too well that the best way to promote his brand was for him to become the face of it. Now, whenever we think abut Virgin we automatically think about Branson. When Virgin Brides was launched, he famously dressed up as a bride himself; when he launched Virgin Cola he drove a Tank down Fifth Avenue in New York to proclaim his battle with Coca Cola. He even injured himself whilst abseiling down the Palms Resort Fantasy Tower whilst promoting his new airline route between San Francisco and Las Vegas. He personally does television and radio interviews, but speaking to an audience is not naturally comfortable for him, as it is for media personalities such as Jonathan Ross or Ricky Gervais.

However, what Branson clearly does is find an inner courage, which is fuelled by his passion and supported by his own inner belief in himself, to step outside his comfort zone, and to do the very thing he needs to do to achieve his goals.

4. Goals and Purpose

The fourth element is to have a clear purpose, clear goal, and a higher vision and mission.

You need to understand why you do the things you do.

You can have all the passion and energy in the world, but without a clear goal (which everyone understands and believes in), nothing will ever be achieved.

In the courses and books I’ve written, I talk about entrepreneurs having ‘man on the moon goals’ which are ambitious, stretch goals.

America would never have made space travel history if President Kennedy, in 1961, hadn’t set a goal to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth.

By announcing this goal publicly, the whole team behind the mission had something real and tangible to work towards. They passionately believed in that goal and as a result, made it happen.

In your organization your team needs to have the same clarity of goals, the same higher purpose, and your own ‘man on the moon’ goals.

There may be thousands of sub-goals in order to achieve the higher purpose, but if your staff don’t understand what the higher goal is, there is no way they can help drive your company towards it.

A perfect illustration of this is the story (possibly apocryphal) of President Kennedy visiting the space station in the early 1960s when the space rocket was being developed.

In true Kennedy style he stopped to speak to somebody who was sweeping the floor. Kennedy said to the man, “What are you doing, sir?” The man sweeping the floor said, “Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

Everybody in your organization has to understand what the higher purpose of your company is. They must know what your man on the moon goals are what their part is in helping you to achieve them.

If they don’t understand what the bigger picture is and if work to them is purely a job without a sense of purpose, then there is very little reason that they will give their all. Ultimately it is the customer who will suffer.

5. Persistence and Tenacity

The fifth element of business-owner-thinking is pure persistence and the refusal to accept no for an answer.

This is a trait consistent with all high achievers. Every entrepreneur business owner you ever speak to will have endless stories where they have had to demonstrate persistence and never give up.

Inevitably in business, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. It is your inner resolve (and the inner resolve of your employees) to keep going and to push on, to overcome the endless hurdles and crushing lows, and push on through to reach your ultimate goals, which is the difference between success and failure.

Without the passion and belief, it would be all too easy to give up when faced with those endless barriers.

Famously, Branson’s engine blew up the night before the maiden flight of his Virgin Atlantic crossing. For most people this would have been a barrier, but Branson pushed on and kept going to create one of the world’s premier airlines.

Duncan Bannatyne ran out of money before finishing the build of his first nursing home. Where other people at that point may have given up and said, ‘Well, I can’t complete this because I can’t afford it’, Duncan found an ingenious, creative way of solving the problem. He asked his mother and her pensioner friends to temporarily fill the nursing home in order to persuade the bank to release the final payment of the loan which was dependent on the nursing home being full.

Stories that entrepreneurs tell you about persistence often sound like they have been made up, and are a testimony to their levels of creativity and ingenuity. It’s this level of creativity and ingenuity you need to unleash in your staff.

6. Energy Flow

The sixth trait of entrepreneurs is having positive energy and thinking positively even when times are tough.

So much in business is about the flow of energy, and creating an environment where a positive flow of energy can thrive, without being destroyed by negative people who disrupt the balance.

I used to work for a software company in London and each day the managing director would walk in, and with him through the door, would come all of his negative energy.

Prior to him walking through the door, the office would be buzzing and alive but his negative energy would soon start to infect everyone and create negative pockets throughout the company.

Virtually all companies have this negative energy in some shape or form, but coming from the business owner it is inexcusable. It’s your responsibility as a business owner or business leader to create an environment of positivity, of positive thinking, of can-do and will-do, and of ambition and drive where success can, and will be achieved.

7. Failure

Number seven is the understanding that failure is a good thing.

The reality is that nothing of any note has ever been achieved without experiencing failure along the way.

Failure is inevitable when trying something new, pushing for new heights, and new innovations, or entering new markets as entrepreneurs inherently do.

It goes without saying that not everything will work. Entrepreneurs embrace failure, see it as a positive and agree that if you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.

That’s not to say that they actively seek it, but when it comes along they are ready to react. It doesn’t get them down because their belief, passion and their drive keep them going.

All too often though, in companies failure is seen as a negative thing and is frowned upon.

In certain circumstances, failure through lack of attention or lack of effort should be seen this way.

But when trying new things, such as innovating and changing, it is only those companies that recognize that failure is part of the journey to success who truly will achieve higher goals.

You need people who understand that failure can be a positive thing and should be learnt from. They know that by failing they can develop wisdom and experience which will ultimately get them closer to their goals.

8. Hard Work and Hustle

Number eight is hard work and the hustle factor. It is simply taking action. It is the physical act of working with a level of commitment, intensity, and sense of urgency, that is needed to get things done to deliver results.

Duncan Bannatyne didn’t start his multiple businesses without working hard, putting in the hours, and being 100% committed to achieving his goals.

I’m sure Duncan will agree that his journey, and the journey of his team, has been fun. They’ve enjoyed it and as a result, the hard work has not seemed like hard work because it was fun.

It was fun because they were doing something they were passionate about, that they believed in and that they had the desire and the ambition to create.

If you have people who are despondent and indifferent to their work, and who see it as a chore, then how can they ever perform at a higher level? How can their own inner splendour pour out into your products and services and be felt by your customers?

It can simply never happen.

That is what customers should pick up on, the fact that you enjoy your work and love what you do.

The beautiful Apple iPod could never have been designed by someone who didn’t love and enjoy their work. It was clearly created by someone who loves music, loves design, and loves technology. It was not something that happened overnight. I would imagine it required thousands of hours of intense effort, concentration and time.

The people working on that project are clearly proud of what they’ve created. It shows in the smallest details: in the design of the iPod player, the packaging, the marketing, in the way the menu system rolls up and down, and from the constant innovation that comes from generation to generation of not only iPods but a whole range of Apple products.

Apple is a clear illustration of a company whose people embody business-owner-thinking. Their products have become so beautiful and have that wow-dazzle factor that they sell themselves.

As a result, their customers are passionate fans of Apple and now, because of the energy and buzz in the marketplace, people want to be part of Apple.

That could never have happened if the people in Apple didn’t love their work, or if they acted like the Barman I spoke about in Chapter 1.

Similarly, it wouldn’t have happened if the people in Apple were Middlemen who neither underperformed or over performed.

Putting it all together: Leadership

The net result of all of this is that business owners are actually leaders.

They are people who lead themselves to achieve their higher goals, and are able to lead and inspire their teams to achieve more.

It’s the personal development of your staff to turn them into leaders (who think, act and make decisions like business owners) that you need to focus on to achieve extraordinary results in your company.

Can anybody become a leader?

I’m often asked whether anybody can become a leader and whether everybody has these traits within them.

Without question I say the answer is yes, if that person is working in an environment that they are passionate about and have the desire for.

Everybody demonstrates this leadership ability at some point in their lives. I spoke in the previous chapter about buying a house, and the increase in business acumen and leadership you demonstrate when you want something that badly.

The same is true when you book a holiday. You immerse yourself, and for a moment in time, you become a leading expert on your desired destination, whether it is a two-week long haul trip to Thailand, or a five day skiing holiday in the Pyrenees.

A friend of mine recently wanted to get tickets for a key Manchester United European Cup game at Old Trafford. Immediately, with this goal in mind, he fought harder than he usually would and demonstrated just the kind of traits that a high achieving entrepreneur would, simply because his own ambitions and goals were aligned. He was chasing a goal that he was passionate about, that he had a burning desire for, and that he believed ultimately he could reach. Needless to say, he got his coveted tickets in the end!

Leadership ability and business-owner-thinking lies within everybody if the right circumstances arise. But this may not be the case currently with everybody in your organisation.

Your staff who are like the Barman may not show leadership ability at work, but this doesn’t mean they don’t have leadership ability within them. They just don’t have it in them for your company, or for the work that they’re doing.

The Barman could for example, be a gifted cyclist and someone who outside of work regularly organizes long-distance bicycle rides from the UK to the South of France. He could be a first-class footballer who is the captain of his local football team and leads by example. He could be a church goer who leads his church group every Sunday.

Given the right circumstances and the right motivations and desires, anybody can be a leader and a person of high-performance, but they have to be playing to their strengths and following their passion.

In your company, you need to find and actively develop people so that they play to their strengths. You need to align their passions, goals and motivations with the goals and aspirations of your organization. You need to develop your people into leaders who think like business owners, not just employees.

It is these people who will make your customers want to buy, buy again and then do your marketing for you. It is these people who will transform your workforce into your salesforce.