My week at the World’s #1 School for Entrepreneurship - Babson College in Boston - and the lifetime of learning that followed
Author: Ian Arbuckle
What happens when you take a cohort of 16 Scottish entrepreneurs of mixed experience, age and business scale, add a dash of support from Entrepreneurial Scotland, Unlocking Ambition and a huge dollop of learning from the top professors in the field of Entrepreneurship at Babson College? For me it can be summed up in one word. Magic.As we set off on our early morning flights with mountains of preparatory reading I couldn’t help but feel excited, apprehensive and slightly daunted at the thought of what this week was going to bring. Coupled with a sense of “how do people like me get these opportunities” I eagerly made my journey to Boston to fully submerge into a week of luxury for an entrepreneur. No, it wasn’t being spoiled at the best spas with massages and fine dining, but having the opportunity to take a full week to concentrate on working “on” our business and not “in” it. This was a phrase that I was going to get very used to hearing during the week along with “Why should I invest in you. Not your business, you?”The very first time I was asked that question I wasn’t at all sure how to answer it but as the week progressed, my confidence grew. I really began to appreciate how incredibly rewarding the journey of LINIAN has been to date and just what I had to offer in this world. Sure, like every new business or entrepreneur, there’s been extreme personal and professional highs but there have been some lows as well. As a whole, we have been incredibly lucky to take advantage of so many wonderful opportunities including:
Developing new products from a concept
Launching new products
Our clients quickly adopting those products
Building treasured and valued relationships which have turned into friendships
Driving much needed change and shaping the industry that we have grown up in.
It was why the question of investing in ME would play such a vital role in my transformation as a leader and as an entrepreneur.Our sessions at Babson kicked off with a bang taking classes with renowned experts Anirudh Dhebar, Tim Marken, Angelo Santinelli, Les Charm, Lauren Bietelspacher, Dwight Gertz, Jay Rao and Karen Ayas. We covered topics including:
Laying a strong marketing Foundation
Sales Target to conversion to Buying Companies as a Growth Strategy
Where’s your audience and how to reach them
Customer Experience and Operational Excellence and
Leadership and Change.
Each topic resonated so much with me in terms of where LINIAN is as a business and what our future holds. I was also incredibly lucky to participate in a 1-2-1 session with Ms Helen Sayles CBE who, prior to her retirement in 2012, was Senior Vice President and Manager of Human Resources, real estate and administration for Liberty Mutual Group. To be able to talk for almost two hours about LINIAN, our current position and future aspirations, is not an opportunity that really comes around all too often. I was like a sponge hanging on her every word as she extended the opportunity to extend the conversation past the 1-2-1 session. Why would Helen invest in me in this way with her time? What did she see?If I were to describe this opportunity then I’d say it was life changing. That’s a pretty bold statement right? There was so much to take home personally and professionally from this experience. I had to work out a plan to consolidate my own learning and break it down to deliver to the team back home. Little steps, bitesize soundbites but often can lead to great change. The one thing that really hit home when listening and interacting with the teaching faculty and other cohort businesses was that whilst there were a lot of things that we could definitely improve on, introduce and work towards in the future there were also elements of the course that we have already implemented on our own as people, leaders and champions of change in all formats. As the week went on and the dreaded question of “why should I invest in you” started to percolate in my head I realised this one thing. Taking every single element of my personality, ability, capability, expertise, ambition, desire to do better and willingness to evolve and push myself as an entrepreneur was what they were looking for. This was the full package.No entrepreneur or professor has all of the answers. No business does “it” correctly one hundred percent of the time but if we are honest with ourselves, admit when we need to change and truly want to grow then we need to take what we have learned during this week which, to me, are the key factors in any business or industry that wants to change. Be it building teams, having the right foundations, the best team, processes, knowing when to pivot, the right ethics, the intrinsic desire to solve a real problem for our customers and refusing to trade off on customer service against operational excellence then we can all have the businesses that we desire and that scaling businesses properly and sensibly should be easy with the right strategy. At LINIAN this encompasses everything that we do moving forwards and it’s why our business has grown so quickly.With just ten percent of the confidence and positivity that the Babson team showered on us added to this mixture then as a business, country and industry we really could achieve great things together. Thank you to Babson College, Entrepreneurial Scotland, Unlocking Ambition, the cohort of 16 amazing businesses, my family whom I’m in business with and all of our wonderful clients across the industry that I’ve been lucky enough to share this journey with. I hope that you continue to invest in me as I will you. About LINIAN – leading the way in innovationLINIAN is a proud family business based in Scotland and owned and operated by the Arbuckle family.As inventors, manufacturers and pioneers of the only single component fire-rated fixing on the market, Team LINIAN is committed to creating the highest quality products, suitable for a variety of cables and conduits, for installation into ALL substrates to stop premature collapse of cables in the event of a fire preventing entanglement of firefighters in line with the latest UK 18th Edition Wiring regulations.Team LINIAN are constantly innovating and identifying ways to improve their fire-rated fixing offering in order to make the built environment a safer place for everyone.