Our recent podcast guest, EJ Flynn, is the Managing Director of The Supper Club, an organisation for entrepreneurs post-startup with high growth on their agenda (our Founder and Director, Leon Milns, has been a member for five years).
EJ has unparalleled insight into the challenges modern entrepreneurs face. She also sees first-hand what the highest performing businesses are doing differently.
Here are EJ’s biggest lessons for business owners with bold aspirations.
What do members get out of The Supper Club?
The Supper Club works with people at all stages of their journey, from those who’ve achieved their first million and are wondering, What on earth do I do next? To those who are private equity-backed £40m plus turnover businesses and everything in between.
The big reasons people join are:
To learn - members gain unique insight into overcoming growth hurdles, how to take advantage of opportunities quicker and other knowledge gaps that need plugging.
To connect - by bringing hundreds of entrepreneurs together digitally and through events, they can connect with new business partners and spark valuable discussions with their peers.
The Supper Club holds 25 roundtable events, social gatherings and panels every month. It has completed over 3000 events over 15 years. Outside of these events, there are a vast amount of ways EJ and her team can support entrepreneurs no matter what their ambitions are.
The most important component of high-growth?
“Have a super clear vision and a solid plan of how you’re going to achieve it.”
EJ explained this to us in more detail. Businesses that are extremely successful own their vision and ensure it’s realised through everything they do. When you walk through their doors, you can cut the energy with a knife because everyone is on that mission - it’s the people who are drumming it through.
A lot of entrepreneurs have a great vision but they aren’t able to execute it. Why? They aren’t translating it into behaviours and communicating them properly. As Simon Sinek articulates in his famous TED Talk:
“Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief - WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?
People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
It’s about having a set structure of behaviours underneath your values. For instance, if one of your values is innovation, ask yourself, what are you doing to consistently be one step ahead of your competitors?
Once translated into actionable steps, you need to communicate your plan to your employees. So everyone is bought into your vision and can own it. You can do this yourself, or hire great people to do it for you.
For further insight into living your values read our recent blog: Walking the Culture and Values Walk.
Supporting happier and more productive teams
Making employee wellbeing central to your company culture is a fantastic way to secure staff loyalty and drive productivity.
This is particularly important for businesses looking to hire multi-talented millennials as their future leaders (which is a brilliant plan, by the way. You can find out why here).
Millennials value their own personal development as much as they value their careers. Giving them a good work-life balance and the ability to live more healthily motivates them to perform at their best.
But it’s not just millennials who need emotional support. If you’re running a business, you are a huge asset and, like everyone else, your health and wellbeing is important.
That’s why a health and wellbeing strategy is a huge asset. Like EJ puts it: “a healthier workforce is a more productive one.”
However, rather than creating fixed solutions, such as free gym membership, health insurance or flexible working hours, let your employees choose. Offering options means they gain access to the support they truly need and will be grateful as a result.
How can you become a better leader?
Entrepreneurs who grow successful businesses are open-minded. They are interested in learning and exploring new ways of thinking. Likewise, they surround themselves with people who share this characteristic. And are willing to give them the authority and freedom to shape the business’ future.
EJ calls this the ‘growth mindset’ and encourages business owners to adopt this way of thinking. The message is that human traits and behaviours are malleable - you are never fixed in the way you work.
By listening to the amazing people around you, you can discover what your strengths are and learn how to heighten them, as well as which areas you need to work on. It is a life-long journey in which you are evolving on a daily basis.
Learn more about peer-to-peer learning in our blog: Should You Have a Mentor?
How merging generations sparks brilliance
Successful entrepreneurs don't restrict themselves to connecting with a specific group of people. They surround themselves with innovators and thought-leaders from all generations.
Because, when you tap into the unique insight of Millenials, Boomers, and Generation Z, it helps you strengthen and regenerate your business by promoting inclusion, understanding and new ways of thinking. This is how you build brilliant business models that break the mould to give you an edge and drive innovation.
EJ’s piece of parting wisdom
We loved this final tidbit from EJ on succeeding as an entrepreneur:
“When I was going through a tough time with my career, my Dad said to me “Don’t let the buggers grind you down.” It was his way of telling me not to give up. And that’s my message to you. You will have many challenges over the course of your career. But as long as you never give in to negativity, you’ll survive and be better for it.”
You can listen to our full discussion with the fantastic EJ here.