Posted: Tue 1st Nov 2022
Enterprise Nation is on a mission to take the loneliness out of entrepreneurship. Through our online local meet-ups, we offer a ready-made support network to small business owners across the UK and Ireland.
These monthly meet-ups wouldn’t exist without our army of Local Leaders; amazing individuals who are passionate about supporting small businesses and are committed to their local communities.
Here, we meet Mark Harris, your Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Local Leader.
I have a portfolio career, working in a number of different roles. Only, I don’t just ‘work’ in a number of roles; I’m passionate about all of them! I do all of them because I really want to.
I deliver mentoring and coaching to small businesses, which I’ve been doing successfully for 12 years. My brand is Enterprise Doctor (no link with Enterprise Nation, but we both work with a range of enterprises, so I guess the coincidence is not surprising). I also founded, built and sold an office stationery company, having bet my house that I could make a success of it. I employed 10 people and had a turnover of £1.4m, so I guess you could call that successful, but I suppose we all have different definitions of success.
I also drive a snow plough at Heathrow Airport, chair a panel of lay people challenging Thames Valley Police on their ethics and integrity, host a business show on local radio, and produce my own podcast. I’m also a Tour Manager for Great Rail Journeys. And yes, I am passionate about all of them!
I’m also passionate about my two hobbies: squash and poker. Interesting that one involves a lot of running around and the other involves a lot of sitting down!
I’ve been involved with Enterprise Nation for a while now, and I like what it does, and how it does it.
I am also the consummate networker, so when the opportunity arose to be a Local Leader I jumped at the chance - and I’m delighted that I did. Not only does it give me the chance to give something back to Enterprise Nation in return for all the benefits I get from being a member, but I get to meet lots of local small businesses, who I love to work with.
I think “thriving” is a good word. At least, that’s in terms of the number of small businesses starting. Most solopreneurs are very good at whatever they’re very good at - but running a business is a different skillset. That’s where Enterprise Nation, and indeed Enterprise Doctor, can be of help.
I’m pleased lots of people ask for my help, but I also know that there are plenty of people who need help but don’t ask for it.
I’m in a comparatively affluent area, but also a very costly area. Rents are high for business premises, and salaries are high if you employ people. Of course, the cost of living issue is the same here as anywhere else, so potential clients of any business are thinking twice before spending money.
I guess the biggest challenge is uncertainty. Where is the economy going? How will that impact small businesses? Tough questions!
One of my clients has a lovely micro business, but had no funds to market it properly. I worked with her to secure funding, putting together a marketing strategy and working with her on the funding application. Now she’s raring to go. Self confidence was something of an issue for her, but by treating her as an entrepreneur rather than a dreamer, it helped her move forward and I fully expect her business to be successful (by her definition of that word).
Another client runs a small marketing agency and has developed something of a niche in the hospitality sector. That sector has obviously had challenges over the last few years, but by helping her clients spend their marketing budget wisely, she has been successful, and so have they.
It’s a small investment, time-wise, and has zero travelling or monetary cost. It’s a great opportunity to meet other local entrepreneurs and bounce ideas off them. I structure the meeting such that we discuss business challenges that are likely to be affecting others “in the room”, with each attendee offering solutions and advice, as well as empathising with the challenges. Everyone leaves the call galvanised and motivated to move their business forward.
Local meet-ups take place online, every month. Find your nearest and reserve your place.