Posted: June 1, 2015 by Jaime Stenning
Entrepreneur challenges ‘conventional wisdom’ to help other businesses
Should we accept the perceived wisdom of a world of specialist experts? We are told to work on focused niches and to exploit ‘the long tail’… specialise or die. But does this hold true with a rapidly changing and challenging business environment?
Large corporations see the benefit of multi-disciplinary teams to draw on the ideas from different disciplines and perspectives, but isn’t this approach simply unaffordable to the small, growing or independent business?
Serial entrepreneur, Tim Johnson, saw an opportunity to turn this established ‘niche or die’ thinking on its head.
Asked why he now does what he does, Tim says that he “recognised that the best way to use my varied experience and education was to provide a service that looks at the whole business and not just a specialised element”. Read on…
What is your background?
I started my working life as a graduate engineer with the Howden Group, with hands-on exposure with design, R&D, QA & test, and a troubleshooting project in the Netherlands. I moved into Office Interiors as technical manager which led me to buying into a small failing joinery business and transforming that into a multi-million pound specialist storage wall manufacturer. A serious car accident prompted the exit from that business and some time off to reflect and study, taking an MBA and training as a mediator. This led to working in the insolvency industry for 2 years before setting up 4Networking as director of strategy.
What problem are you now solving?
The lack of whole business support that companies need to turn around their fortunes.
How do you do that?
By working both on the business and with the people, taking a whole company view rather than focusing on a specific aspect. Having ‘been there and done it’ in most roles, (and studied the theory to boot,) strategic insight and clarity follow closely behind.
How can a struggling business afford to pay for advice when they need it most?
That’s a good question! I offer free turnaround clinics to work on the issues and to establish whether we are a good fit to continue working together, and then work on joint venture solutions with payment on results.
What are your plans for the future of the business?
I want to get established, build and then scale the business. To do that means that I will be trying to help and support as many businesses as possible.
What if the business needs an injection of capital?
I also work with Angels Den in the South West; for businesses with fast growth potential this can be a really good solution, because the capital doesn’t have to be repaid in the short term in the way that debt finance does.
So, what do you think of Dragons’ Den?
It provides great exposure for entrepreneurs and the dragons… and entertainment for the rest of us.
What do you think of The Apprentice?
Again I think it’s more about entertainment than business, and the competition element doesn’t favour teamwork and genuine leadership.
Who is your business hero?
I don’t have one – I get inspired by individuals who battle through their own demons and the odds to make their business move forward on a day-to-day basis.