What do Dyson, Google and other "super" entrepreneurs have in common?

Tim Bourne
Prime Minister David Cameron Visits The Dyson Factory
James Dyson isn't afraid of taking risks, having recently put £1bn into battery technology (Source: Getty)

When the word “entrepreneurial” is mentioned, most people immediately think of small owner operator businesses. But the Marketing Agencies Association’s second annual Super Entrepreneur list looks to some of Britain’s biggest and best known companies to understand and explain their growing culture of entrepreneurialism.

An expert panel ranked 200 of Britain’s biggest consumer-facing companies against entrepreneurial outlook and output. What can the findings about these “super” entrepreneurs teach firms about creating a culture for success?

Embrace risk-taking

Taking risks was identified by panellists as important for staying ahead of the competition in an increasingly global and digital world. It explains why Dyson was placed at the top of the table, having invested £1bn into battery technology.

Google is another constant innovator. Who would have thought at the firm’s founding that it would be competing against BMW in the driverless car market?

Along with embracing risk comes the need to surmount any doubts about a firm’s chances of success. Self-belief is key, and super entrepreneurs understand that learning comes when things go wrong.

They create a non-blame culture and use failures simply as an opportunity to learn what not to do next time around.

Build a fast culture

As businesses grow larger, processes and red tape can slow things down. There is no question that the digital age has accelerated changes in consumer demand and expectations.

Create markets

Entrepreneurship doesn’t end when a business has reached certain heights. Large companies have the advantage of both scale and access to funding, which means they can afford to take greater risks to invest in creating new markets and new demand.

Have a consumer focus

Businesses with a primary focus on what their consumers want will rarely go wrong. All top performing super entrepreneurs share an obsession with their customers and exceeding consumer demands.

They also possess a great ability to quickly reorientate their resources and competences when that demand changes.

Understand the importance of marketing

In today’s highly competitive and often over-served markets, consumers buy into the belief systems built around products, as much as the products themselves. It is vital that companies use marketing to build up an audience of fans and advocates who can carry their messages for them.

All of the successful companies on the list have thought about customer experience and go beyond just selling a product to a customer. Several have gone so far as to change the way communication works, while re-enforcing their ethos the whole time through great marketing, design and development.

Open up your culture

Many of the leading companies in the report were praised for their open cultures and ability to connect with ideas from elsewhere, often through investment in the startup community, or by providing support for educational institutions in engineering, arts and science.

All businesses can learn from tech brands such as Google and Facebook by backing young entrepreneurs to provide a flow of new ideas and personalities into their company.

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