“Boy, they never told me it’d be this hard!”: a talk by Stewart Bailey on 18 August 2010

He is a co-founder of Spark and Virtual Viewing. With links in Central and Eastern Europe he spends lots of time in Poland and Slovakia. His expertise lies in 3D technologies. His talk entitled “Boy, they never told me it’d be this hard” delivered the core message for anyone wanting to start their own business: be prepared, you’re in for the long haul.

Success? Well there are numerous ways to measure success – not always about money. He defines his as the ability to do what you like; becoming an intellectual; developing personal relationships and above all else… freedom. He mentioned three questions: What is a successful entrepreneur? What is a successful businessman? Who wouldn’t want to be successful? Each is clearly different. As an entrepreneur you may be in it for the short term and sometimes just developing ideas is enough! As a businessman you will most likely be in for the long haul, more of a bottom-line guy in relating to profit and loss, with the mission statement linking to long term goals. And success? Well, sometimes you have to do things you hate in order to achieve what you want.

In 1995 Stewart was into research and development and obtained the second personal licence from Apple outside the US. He defined his greatest success as giving his children options he never had – as well as selling some of the first email accounts to Johnson Press, selling a website for Milton Keynes, winning the BT award for best website in the UK, and working for the Queen. His biggest difficulty was growing up and learning who he was. Well, his successes show clearly who he was, such as: working at the age of 9; becoming a touring musician at 13/14; building the top agency in the country to do the first live webcast for Privilege nightclub in Ibiza; 3D modeling in Bratislava; developing interactive Flash in 1999; having his company used for R&D by major supermarkets; the first website for the Grand Prix and first WAP for Grand Prix Australia; being part of a common matrix program; founder of a competition for 40MK leading to work with the biggest music festival; having an office in Beverly Hills; and working for Mercedes Benz.

He defines TEAM: T for trust; E for empathy; A for advice and M for motivation. Trust is something that you have to earn and the things you regret are the things you don’t do as opposed to the things you do. Empathy is difficult but by sponsoring a rugby team and donating money to various good causes, the latest being Barnados, he knows he can sleep well at night. Advice: always sign an NDA; aim higher than high whilst remaining realistic and planning well, and above all else, find a good team. They are the people that will point you in the right direction, as long as you’re sharing the same vision! And motivation, never give up, and stay focused. Oh, and ensure accounts are always up-to-date and make sure your team members are people who will stick by you.

Tips: Knowledge is the key to success and having a technically able team helped him achieve his goals. When meeting key players, speak to them in their language and ensure you are credible. When starting e-business concentrate on offering a clear product on a site that is simple and is genuinely selling your product! When selling ensure that you are highlighting the value, features and product to the customer. Make sure that you keep enough money (3 times costs) in a deposit account, just in case, as you never know what’s round the corner. Don’t grow too fast and don’t spend what you don’t have. Try to have enough money for your family to live for one year. Always pay family first. Maintain competitive advantage by piggy backing off others’ good ideas while concentrating on sales. When you’re successful you can look at investing in intellectual property rights.

I would like to thank Stewart for his informative talk, and for further information please visit http://www.virtualviewing.co.uk/ (external link).

Report by William Martin (BBE first year student)