This week’s small business superstar is Nigel Botterill, founder and CEO of Entrepreneurs Circle, one of the UK’s largest business training centres.
We found out what inspired Nigel to become an entrepreneur, his meeting with Richard Branson and how alternative funding is disrupting the relationship between small businesses and banks.
Tell me more about Entrepreneurs circle. What role does it play in the small business community?
Entrepreneurs Circle exists to educate, motivate, help and inspire entrepreneurs to achieve more than they ever thought possible.
We’ve got thousands of members and lots of them have experienced massive growth as a result. We focus not just on the business but on the lives and lifestyle of the business owner and their families because for so many of us, that’s our driving force.
What qualities do you think people need to become an entrepreneur?
Clearly, you need determination and tenacity because there will be setbacks along the way, but what I’ve discovered is that the biggest difference between really successful entrepreneurs and the rest is that it’s all about the way they think and this is something that you have to learn, focus and work on.
Having the correct mindset is the core to everything that our members achieve through Entrepreneurs Circle. Success is nearly always about who you become rather than what you do.
When we last spoke to you, you told us that social media is a waste of time for most small business owners. Has your opinion changed on the subject?
No. I stand by everything I said in that last interview. Check out what Nigel really thinks about SMEs using social media when we caught up with him at the start-up business show earlier this year.
How do you relax when you’re not at work?
Well, I’m answering these questions from a beach in the Caribbean so I guess that gives you a bit of a clue. I love to travel.
My family’s really important as well though so, right now, I’m heavily into skateboarding with my 9 year old son. That and football. Oh, and the theatre as well. I love a good musical.
Alternative funding is proving extremely popular with small businesses, with over £5bn set to be lent to SMEs this year. How do you think this will affect small firms’ relationship with high street lenders?
It’s already affecting relationships with many businesses.
It’s just so easy to get access to funds through organisations like Funding Circle and I think we’re set to see a seismic shift in the relationships between businesses and high street banks.
Despite all their promises and protestations, the reality is that they’ve barely changed their approach to SMEs in a generation but I’m absolutely certain that it’s coming.
If you were Prime Minister, what’s the first thing that you would do for small businesses?
I’d make it compulsory for anyone starting up a business to get properly trained. Not the wishy-washy training for businesses that’s usually run by failed bank managers but real practical stuff that’s run by business owners.
It’s why we set up the Entrepreneurs Circle Training Academy – and we’ve trained over 13,500 people this year. Knowledge and an understanding of how you need to think is just so critical for anyone starting out and we know this because the evidence is all around us, the difference that this makes.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
When I was younger I always wanted “My own train set” as I wanted to feel what it’s like to be in charge of something. No one ever spoke to me at school about the possibility of even being your own boss so things have changed quite a bit since my day.
I was 37 when I finally took the plunge and set out on my own and it was the deep drive to build a better life for my family that was my inspiration.
Who are your biggest role models?
The people I’ve learnt the most from are Napoleon Hill and Dan Kennedy. Obviously, Branson is something of a role model to every British entrepreneur and I was fortunate enough to spend three days with him the in Caribbean last year, which was pretty cool. He lived up to expectations!