Business Eye: Supporting fellow bosses

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt

They do say it’s lonely at the top, and nowhere is this more so than as an entrepreneur.

It is inevitably the case that being irrepressibly challenging and focussed on achieving momentum through immediate action, many around you will just not understand why you get so frustrated with ‘reasons why not’ and with laggards digging their heels in.

It is for this reason that I’m a member of MD2MD which brings together small groups of non-competing entrepreneurs who meet for a full day every month to help each other overcome the inevitable roadblocks to success – those thrown into our path by others or by circumstance, plus self-induced sabotaging of our own progress.

It’s a group of mainly 50 year-ish old men (but not exclusively) who share a strong sense of ambition married to the deep scars and wide experiences, all looking to do something serious rather than coast along.

My group is fascinating, humble, fun and reminds me that I’m not the only one with big ideas and impossibly high standards surrounded by teams who sometimes can’t quite grasp the mission and can sometimes view me as slightly unhinged. The businesses range from a major law firm through serious manufacturers and niche service suppliers. We are a stereotypically cosmopolitan bunch with a nomadic Aussie, a smiling German always reliably there before the rest of us, and the obligatory outwardly gruff but soft-centred Yorkshire man.

During our annual retreat last week, the eclectic dreams ranged from building a high value wrist watch collection to taking on JustGiving so that £200m of sponsorship monies would all go to causes without the 5% top-slice.

Personal passions range from flying microlites to rearing pheasants. Everyone wants to pursue at least one more business idea. Giving something substantial back to family, colleagues and community ran like Blackpool through our stick of entrepreneurial rock, and there was unified disbelief at the perceived waste and lack of urgency experienced at the hands of officialdom.

The biggest surprise to me was that I appeared the only one in this high performing group to profess any confidence in myself. The big fear was of not being good enough, so somewhat paradoxically, I’m now not so sure I am.