After working in various sectors and taking lessons from each, Ollie Collard created his own consultancy business, supporting Founders in starting and growing their companies. Ollie talks to The Industry Leaders about the importance of entrepreneurship in the UK and where you should look to find riches.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I was born in India, where my mum helped set up a Fairtrade organic cotton clothing business in the 1980s. A lot of my childhood was spent in their retail shop in Bristol.
I saw first-hand the difference business can make to people and communities. This passion for business grew, I went onto read International Business at The University of Liverpool.
I spent the next decade working for a social enterprise, The Prince's Trust, Business West, Oxford Innovation and Virgin StartUp in the start-up ecosystem. In that time, I saw the good, the bad and the ugly of business support. This inspired me to start Enterprise Orchard in 2018.
What kind of work does your role involve?
Running a small business, I have to be a wearer of many hats, from setting the strategy to winning new customers.
But one thing that remains consistent amongst all this variety is that I speak to founders and aspiring business owners every day. My time is spent understanding their challenges, what excites them, what keeps them up at night and what pushes them forwards.
I love to listen, understand, empathise, and suggest solutions to help founders solve complex and difficult problems in their business. Having my ear on the ground enables Enterprise Orchard to provide programmes that help founders become unstoppable.
What gets you excited about your industry?
The tenacity and grit of entrepreneurs. Amongst a pandemic, there was a record-breaking 772,000 businesses started here in the UK! Change brings about opportunity; this is what the heart of entrepreneurship is: solving problems and seizing opportunities.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
The riches are in the niches - it has to be said in an American accent for it to rhyme, though!
Often business owners are too worried about discounting particular groups or audiences from being their prospective customers, as they incorrectly feel this will result in lost revenue or opportunity. But the saying if you try and sell to everyone, you sell to no one is so true.
The job of a marketer is to reduce confusion and add clarity. If your message resonates, you spend less on marketing and enjoy better results.
What, or who inspires you?
I am inspired by the founders we provide support to. Their missions, backgrounds, origins, the reasons they get out of bed in the morning, and how they are making an impact in this world.
I enable founders to operate at their best, helping them become comfortable with the uncomfortable, so they can take on the challenges that will arise.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
Networking is one of the key ways to keep up with changes in the industry. During Covid-19, there have been so many challenges. I've clocked uploads of networking hours (more like days/weeks) on Zoom.
I am looking forward to reconnecting with people in person, though.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
One of the biggest emotional challenges came in a previous role. I started a new job, sadly the person who did it before me had passed away unexpectedly. This required massive amounts of emotional intelligence, empathy and understanding. Nothing can prepare you for this situation. I stayed in the role for a couple of years, made loads of friends, and met my wife.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Pay off our mortgage, have a party, help out family, set up an investment fund for founders from disadvantaged backgrounds.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
Depends on the day! But go for a run, spend time with my wife and two little ones. Meet up with friends and go for a drink.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
That people from all backgrounds have the confidence and support to start and grow rewarding businesses.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
One biased one here, but we run a podcast called Founded & Grounded, aimed at the start-up community. We offer advice and inspiration through the stories of others. We focus on the reality of being an entrepreneur through their experiences - good and bad - offering a reminder to listeners that they're not alone in riding this emotional rollercoaster.
Not biased - Atomic Habits, by James Clear.
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