Talk by Paul Avins on 8 September 2010

We were lucky enough to have keynote speaker Paul Avins. He is a professional in igniting business results and turbo growth. He helps others to live their business life in the fast lane. In technology 90 days is the equivalent of 1 year. Today’s climate moves faster than ever. Have goals for 5 years and plans for 2. Paul says that where you will be in future years depends on the books you read; the people you associate with; and the action you take. He wished that when he was at university the entrepreneurial climate existed the way it exists today. Paul has worked with clients from 79 different industries from top class brands as well as many start-ups from low tech to high tech, retail to wholesale. Time is one thing you can’t get back and trial and error is the most expensive way to learn.

A brief background to Paul: Diagnosed as a dyslexic at 14, Paul was not academically minded and he fell into the wrong crowd and craved attention from all the wrong places. However, he really enjoyed sport and received lots of positive feedback. After school he was offered a place at Sandhurst Military Academy. He declined as he wanted to go to university to study for a degree in Business Studies. He attended Oxford Brookes and fell in love with reading.

In his first year he handed in a piece of work and the lecturer gave it back to the class in order of achievement and Paul got his last… The teacher pulled him to the front and said: “You will never be good at business if you can’t spell it.” As if Paul’s self-doubts weren’t enough, now other people were confirming them! But in a conversation of two people, one always has to be right. Paul backed himself, together with support from his family and friends.

After choosing to leave the course, Paul began work for his Dad’s expanding business, importing terracotta from Spain and Singapore. They learnt the value of clients and how to sell…quickly. All the while he was developing the entrepreneurial mindset of ‘what if you fail?’ juxtaposed with ‘what if you succeed?’ Paul never wanted to run his Dad’s business but enjoyed the networking seminars and lectures on personal development. He began an obsession with learning and surrounded himself with like-minded people.

Paul was taken under the wing of another individual (a mentor) and when advised by this mentor to do something, he did it. When given a task, he did it, ensuring he exceeded their expectations. Paul found himself a project, his only problem was he had to get £5 million funding to launch it. One day he found himself in a meeting with a panel of movers and shakers. He gave his presentation. They said it was a fantastic presentation and the business plan was superb. However, the investors turned him down. They said it was just not a big enough project, as they only invested in projects of a minimum of £20 million. Stunned, Paul set out again and managed to get the money – all £5 million. After expanding the business the investors wanted out and they were made an offer. He and the investors took their money and left.

Paul went out and recklessly bought all the ‘toys’, spending lots of cash. He found himself with time and money. He asked his accountant what to do – and was advised to become an investor. He invested heavily in the bubble. There were three levels of injury when it burst: those who lost everything, those who lost a little and those who didn’t lose much. He lost everything. He was forced to liquidate his business. Paul took time out to recover and took the feedback to heart. He needed a strategy to get back to where he wanted to be, as he didn’t want to get a job, he choose to max out his credit card by purchasing a cleaning franchise for £10,000. He used his marketing knowledge to expand the business up to the 3rd biggest in the chain. He then sold it to get back to his passion of personal development – which is his business today.

Paul makes a difference by training business owners. He has won two global awards for coaching, travels internationally and has a genuine passion for where the businesses are going. Oxford Wealth Club is his business, which he has spent six years building up. He offers two weeks training, coaching, audio, video and books as part of the programme. His target now is to franchise and enter five new countries by next year.

Words to the wise:

  • Use dead time, such as when in a train / plane / car, as learning time. Read and listen to audio books.
  • Isn’t it funny how large houses have libraries and small ones have shelves!
  • Scribble notes on business books. What you might find is that what was relevant when you did so will change in the future as we and the world move on.
  • If you are interested in a certain industry, go and work in that industry before doing anything, find out what operations are involved.
  • When employing people, they are buying into you and your business. Your energy, vision, charisma and belief.
  • Growth sucks cash. The more of it you have, the faster you grow.
  • Mastering numbers is the key to success. And remember that if you go wrong, you have to handle the pressure.
  • Take 10% of your earnings and reinvest in training yourself.
  • Whenever Paul needed help he would visit media, presentations, business meetings, go to experts and CDs/tapes.
  • Which season is the right season for growth? Every season.
  • Offer your customers lifetime value. Don’t just concentrate on getting new customers, make sure you keep all your exisitng ones and think “what else can I sell them?”
  • Everyone learns differently. Learn the ways in which you learn best and use those methods to help yourself.

 Report by William Martin (BBE first year student)