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Robert Ashton

Interview with Robert Ashton

We got some insight into the best advice for upcoming entrepreneurs from the social entrepreneurship speaker, Roberth Ashton. Read our interview with him below.

What sort of advice do you have for companies and individuals who wish to become more entrepreneurial?

I’d say that now, more than ever before, you need to do three things:

  1. Define what success looks like to you in simple, explicit measurable terms and don’t be influenced by how others might attempt to define your success on your behalf.
  2. Understand and clearly communicate the return on investment your customers will gain from doing business with you – and do it with passion, confidence & conviction;
  3. Recognise that social impact is the most important point of difference when price, quality and service are equal.


What types of advice do you have for small businesses that wish to grow?

Again, three key points:

  1. Understand why you want to grow – is it to help more people benefit from what you do or simply to make more money? The paradox of small business growth is that during growth, you spend more and make less . . . only by focusing on others do you eventually earn your pot of gold;
  2. Growth means delegation; letting go, trusting and developing others. Learn to enjoy recruiting, developing and supporting people, even if they leave you to succeed elsewhere or on their own;
  3. When you grow a business, everyone wants to help you, but usually because they want to sell you something you may not need.  Watch your costs!


What is the advantage of a small business versus bigger businesses?

Flexibility: You can turn on a sixpence to react to opportunity or threat. Big businesses cannot move fast but will catch up in time – so you just need to keep innovating, stay head and win


What types of events and clients do you generally work with?

I work a lot with:

  • business starters, particularly people who have escaped the constraints of large organisations
  • community groups, charities and social enterprises who want to take control of their future, become sustainable and make a difference;
  • public sector teams wishing to become more enterprising, collaborative and innovative;

As a speaker, I get hired most often to talk to audiences of pople from the following sectors: charity, social enterprise, community organisations, volunteers, housing, health (particularly mental health), education and small business.


How are your perspectives and talks different from other presentations by entrepreneurial speakers?

I am very different to the so called professional speakers who have a suite of slick presentations they deliver identically to each audience. I prefer to research the issues facing each audience, try to understand their challenge and respond to the issues they’re facing. That means each presentation is different – I have been known to change my talk in response to what’s said in the session before I walk onto the stage!

I always speak with passion; I always tell the stories of those I have met and perhaps worked with and always, always listen to my audience. Oh and I’m not keen on powerpoint and branding myself the ‘barefoot entrepreneur’; means I often speak without shoes or socks!

Here are five ways I differentiate myself:

1.       I speak my mind – it’s easier to say what people want to hear, but better for all if I say it as I see it;

2.       I speak to everyone – as an independent, I can talk with the people who appear to be holding back progress, hear their viewpoint and often negotiate a solution that works for all;

3.       I write too  – with 16 book, most on enterprise and entrepreneurship, published, widely translated and on sale in 80+ countries, people recognise that I know my subject;

4.       I care – entrepreneurship is as much about passion as it is about process. Others might see their clients as meal tickets; I take their trust in me more seriously and yes, I really do care;

5.       I share – I do not believe in small print, preferring to be open, honest and trusting. I’m not precious about copyright either. I find the more freely I share, the more successful I become!


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