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James Caan CBE Quotes

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James Caan CBE quotes: the serial entrepreneur’s best content.

“Your first idea is all part of the journey to finding the right idea.  If you’re determined to become an entrepreneur, don’t lose hope.”

“The one most important lesson I would tell my younger self is failure is part of the journey to success.  Too often entrepreneurs hit the first hurdle and give up.  I am happy to admit that I’ve had many failures throughout my career and invested in a number of businesses that sadly didn’t prove to be successful.”

“In each occasion, I took some very valuable lessons from the mistakes I made when backing those businesses.  Therefore, I passionately believe that recognizing and accepting failure is just as important as being successful.”

“My father’s words of wisdom were: ‘Observe the masses and do the opposite.’  He always taught me to think about my options when everyone else is charging in the same direction.  That’s always stuck with me and it’s so true.  Today, I run a private equity firm and we invest.  When is the best time to invest?  It’s when everybody else is leaving the table.  When the stock market goes up, it’s not the time to buy.  You buy when it goes down.  The problem is, when it goes down, you need balls; you need confidence.”

“I think I always knew from the beginning that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I wanted to run my own business.  I love the excitement and the feeling of being independent and being in control of my own destiny which employment doesn’t naturally give you.”

“My passion is building businesses and backing talented people.  I have been building and selling businesses since 1985 and I think it is important to invest in people rather than just products or businesses.  I’m a great believer that it is people who create a successful business through their passion and conviction.  I’ve always believed ‘it’s your attitude, not your aptitude that determines your altitude.'”

“To me, entrepreneurial spirit is the freedom to think outside the box; to express yourself.  It’s the opportunity to be different.  The entrepreneurial spirit means there is no box; you have to think outside the box.  It’s given me the opportunity to create something with my own ideas and thoughts.  The freedom to do that is what I regard as the entrepreneurial spirit.”

“Every investment I’ve ever made has one thing in common: the business has a passionate founder behind them.  Passion, determination and conviction are all crucial components for success.”

“It’s important that my business partner or employee is a team player as I believe that no business is about one individual.  I like people who are decisive and confident in making decisions.  I think soft skills are just as important as commercial business skills.”

“When I’m pitching to an employee it’s important to demonstrate the company culture, that it’s not just about running a business.  It’s about social responsibility, having fun along the way and most importantly, learning from the experience.”

“You must have a clear plan and vision to scale your business, with the objective of realizing its value—most likely, in the form of a sale.  Finally, you must be in a market where you can demonstrate real demand with an expanding customer base.”

“You know you have a good idea when you can demonstrate there’s a real market demand for it, whereby you can show the pricing you’re proposing is attractive and competitive.”

“When you’re pitching, think about your hook.  Tell a story and get them excited, don’t just bog them down with figures that may or may not come to fruition.  Illustrate your passion and remember that, as a startup, all good investors will expect you to fail at first so never overpromise and underdeliver.”

“Be sure to illustrate innovative thinking and your ability to attract the best talent.”

“While it’s very important to talk about numbers, scale, growth and margin, don’t leave out how you plan to execute your strategy.  Ideas in themselves don’t make money.  It’s excellent execution that delivers results.”

“Technology is definitely an enabler to rapidly scaling a company.  Businesses grow far more rapidly once reaching a tipping point of awareness, which is usually brought about by great marketing and advertising campaigns, now primarily communicated online.”

“The recruitment industry needs innovation to survive and the new technologies created as part of this will allow us to operate at a higher value level.  Generalist recruiters will find it difficult in this new world while real market experts and industry specialists will thrive.”

“One of the key differentiators in any recruitment business was the contact database it had—the real value lay in who you knew.”

“When LinkedIn started to become more popular it initially scared me into thinking it would ruin my business.  Suddenly everyone had access to the candidates in our database—candidates that we’d spent years nurturing.  I decided that as I couldn’t do anything to stop it, I’d adapt and embrace it.”

“LinkedIn has changed the landscape of professional networking and it also allows me to easily communicate with relevant audiences.  I no longer carry business cards.”

“I used to write for a newspaper column; however, I wouldn’t get feedback on how it was received other than the odd verbal comment if someone I knew had read it.  When I post my regular blog on LinkedIn, I instantly get a response on whether people like it or not.  That’s powerful and far more engaging.  It opens up the dialogue for career development and professional progression for the benefit for all, and allows people to build relationships quicker.  My activity on LinkedIn helped me generate 10 new opportunities a week.”

“Successfully selling a business can transform your life, and give you long-term financial security.  But it requires a lot of experience and expertise to grow a business that’s capable of and ready for a sale.”

“I don’t think you should underestimate the qualities that career politicians have, because they actually have got the experience of knowing how to get things done, how to get decisions made because it’s an environment they’re used to and we’re not.”

“My father was always my mentor, and the reason I became an entrepreneur.  He had his own market stall… and I used to help him sell leather jackets as a kid and he worked incredibly hard.  I remember telling myself I want to be that passionate about something when I grow up.”

“I knew from a young age that I wanted to run my own business.  I left school with no qualifications.  I was a true self-starter.  My father was probably my biggest influence.  He owned a successful leather goods manufacturing business which he hoped I would one day take over.  He offered me the chance to join his East End clothing firm but I turned it down to find my own way in business.”

“I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth and didn’t have a private education.  When I left school and went out on my own at 16, I had no money in my pocket.  What I did have was a great degree of ambition coupled with self-belief, a strong desire to achieve and a powerful work ethic; something I believe is imperative in any pursuit of success.”

“I saw what my dad was doing and I realized that actually, doing things for yourself is a lot more fun, a lot more exciting.  Aged 16, as soon as I could leave school, I just went.  I didn’t even take my exams.  I instinctively knew I wanted to create or build something that was my own.  And it worked!”

“There’ve been so many twists and turns in the journey; what I’ve probably enjoyed the most is the need to have to consistently reinvent myself.  One of the exciting things about being an entrepreneur is that you have to be a bit of a chameleon; one day your business is going in one direction, then before you know it, the market changes and you’re off in a different direction.”

“It’s not going down the corporate single-track; I’ve got the freedom and flexibility to do so many different things.  It gives you so much satisfaction, and you really make a difference, because you build something.  For me, that’s a huge tick in the box.”

“As a serial entrepreneur, one minute I’m running a recruitment business, then I’m running a private equity firm, then I’m doing a TV show, then I’m writing a book.  It’s been an amazing journey, and I think entrepreneurship gives you that freedom to be yourself.”

“The advice that I would give entrepreneurs today, is to recognize that we’re in an incredibly competitive business market.  The modern landscape is much more challenging, it changes so quickly, and you have to appreciate that failure is part of the journey to success.  My advice is to embrace failure, because the one thing that you can guarantee in business is that if it can go wrong, it will go wrong.”

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