Charly Cox (26 February 2014)

Now working in coaching, Charly spent the majority of her talk on her time in Sierra Leone. She started in Africa as part of the charity Save the Children, but soon realised that the country was yearning for new business and some entrepreneurial spirit. Charly’s experience in Africa was particularly relevant to the audience because a large number of the students present are either from Africa or intend to work there one day. These students were certainly pleased to hear that Charly believed it is easier to start a business in a developing country than in the UK.

Charly talked in depth about the four keys to being an entrepreneur and how she had demonstrated these traits when working in Africa:

  1. Wanting to solve a problem. The problem she saw was that media companies in London were paying huge amounts of money to send photographers to Sierra Leone to take pictures. Charly used this opportunity to set up a media company where she would employ staff to take photos and videos and then send them back to London.
  2. The ability to break rules. In the UK we have rules and regulations that ensure parties work to appropriate business standards. In Sierra Leone you must build a relationship so that you encourage staff and suppliers to meet these standards. Charly made it her goal to encourage positive relationships as it would improve the results she got from her business partners.
  3. Building something bigger than you. She wanted to help rebuild Sierra Leone’s image after the years of civil war and devastation. The messages and values that Charly passed on to her suppliers will have certainly benefited their careers even when they were not working for Charly’s business.
  4. An entrepreneur should not be scared to fail. She discouraged people from setting out in business to one day be a millionaire. Instead we can learn from everything we do and use that to be a success. If we are too focused on the end goal of being a success then we will be too scared of failure.

Charly told the students that these are some of the useful traits in business:

  • determining and living by your values
  • having humility to learn and admit when you don’t understand
  • having grit to stick to it when the going gets tough
  • being creative to solve problems
  • using intuition to understand others.

Read more about Charly Cox on her website:

(based on an article by Tom Bowen)