Management as Monkey Business

Once again Peter Day’s In Business has come up with a fascinating show, interviewing Tim Smit the man behind the Eden Project.

He explains what he calls his “monkey business” rules, which include all interview candidates having to ‘entertain’ their interview panel for ten minutes. It can be music, dance, juggling, storytelling or whatever you like. Other ones include trying not to take important decisions in the daytime, and to read at least two books each year which are outside your normal range of interests.

They all sound a bit wacky in print, but when you listen to Tim they sound more like common sense.

Despite initially sounding like a bit of a hippy it turns out Tim is ruthless when it comes to negativity. He just won’t tolerate negative people within his organisation.

The future is bright, the future is a Big Lemon

One of the best things about my job is watching entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs (the fastest growing sector), as their business develop and grow.

One example is Tom Druitt, who by sheer coincidence hails from the village I grew up in – Forest Row. He had the remarkably brave idea of starting a social enterprise bus company. It is actually a Community Interest Company called the The Big Lemon CIC, which Tom set up in January to deliver good quality, affordable, ‘green’ transport in and around Brighton.

After many months of planning, licence applications, networking and fundraising he is now close to starting their first bus service on 1 September between Brighton’s two universities and the main railway station. You can read more about this exciting new venture on their Friends of The Big Lemon Facebook page.

Big Yello

Socially responsible marketing

Friday 10 November

Here is a an interesting item to file under social responsible marketing:

The WOMMA Ethics Program

WOMMA and its members are committed to building a profession that is based on ethical practices. We’re breaking new ground in ethical marketing, consumer protection, and self regulation with our innovate ethics tools.

Simple and practical, companies can use our ethics tools to make sound decisions about their word of mouth marketing campaigns. Word of mouth marketing is being used by more and more companies and these tools will help them deliberately and consistently do the right thing. We’re taking high-level ethical principles and using them to create practical decision-making instruments.

Anita Roddick live and dangerous

Wednesday 15 November 2006

Anita Roddick gave an enthralling presentation entitled Commerce with a conscience: can business deliver social change, as part of our ‘Inspiring Entrepreneurs’ series.

She had some really wacky slides and started off with HOMO-ECONOMICUS+HOMO CONSUMICUS = HOMO-SCREWEDUPICUS


Earlier on in the day I met John Bird the founder of the Big Issue who was using one of our rooms for a live online forum session on the Real Business website.

One of the great things about my job is meeting people who are making business successes in the most unlikely places. How abut Dee Wright whose business card describes her as ‘Lice Assassin’. She is the founder of The Hairforce, and has managed to make dealing with hair lice sexy.


the Hairforce logo

Springwise for inspirational new business ideas

Tuesday 17 October 2006

My current favourite source for new business ideas is the Springwise fortnightly newsletter. Tagline ‘new business ideas for entrepreneurial minds. They claim a global network of 8,000 spotters who scan the globe for smart new business ideas, delivering instant inspiration to entrepreneurial minds.

In particular they look for ideas that can be replicated or franchised in the readers home country.

It’s free and comes in a nicely designed html email or pdf download from Netherlands based Springwise BV.SpringWise_logo

I’ve put a sample story below to show the kind of thing they do:

Born out of frustration from hearing their female friends complaining of frizzy hair, entrepreneurs Richard Starrett and Neil Macka took it upon themselves to devise a solution. They came up with the Straight Up machine.

Trading under the name Beautiful Vending Ltd, the two men realised there was a gap in the market, since English weather can turn perfectly styled hair to frizz, ruining a night out for women fixed on having pin-straight hair. It took them a year of research to develop the Straight Up, a patented vending machine that lets women purchase short use of a ceramic straightening iron. The vending machines use professional-grade GHD tongs, “the irons that styled a thousand catwalks”, and 90 seconds’ use goes for one pound (approx USD 1.85/EUR 1.50).

Offering style-conscious females the opportunity to look their best at all times -– regardless of unpredictable weather — this is a simple business idea with low start-up costs and serious potential. The business is currently run solely in the United Kingdom, where 500 units have been placed so far, but Beautiful Vending is seeking to grow quickly and franchise opportunities are available worldwide. Press hype regarding the product has been huge in the UK, garnering much interest from club and bar owners. Straight Up machines will of course be a hit anywhere women preen and primp: restaurants, gyms, shopping malls, office buildings…