Mike Southon's profile

Mike Southon

About Mike Southon

Mike Southon is a Financial Times columnist, entrepreneur mentor, professional speaker and co-author of 'The Beermat Entrepreneur'. Mike's new book is: 'This is How Yoodoo It' - Sixty FT columns on entrepreneurship

Posts by Mike Southon

  • The price is right

    Published on 30th May 2011

    Sales down? Margins squeezed? Worried about the recession?
    If so, here is a top tip: put your prices up!

  • Leadership, Army-style

    Published on 16th May 2011

    “Ask good questions, listen carefully and give clear instructions.”
    Sound advice indeed, and I’m writing it down carefully as I’m talking to Sir Philip Trousdell, formerly director of the multinational NATO force in Bosnia and commander of the operation in Northern Ireland. He’s telling me about his take on leadership, Army-style.

  • Getting the best from your mentor

    Published on 2nd May 2011

    We all have mentors, even if we do not realise it.
    For people in school, it might be a teacher who is willing to spend a little extra time with you. It could be a family friend who always has good advice and contacts. For those of you still in the corporate world, dreaming of starting your own business, it is the person who might actually be able to make that happen.

  • Avoiding failure

    Published on 18th April 2011

    The recession is in full swing; recently, two of my friends’ businesses have gone under, despite having healthy order books.
    In both cases, the final coup de grace was delivered by their banks, which withdrew further credit. To a former salesperson, a company going into receivership despite having a good sales pipeline is a paradox, so for enlightenment I sought the advice of Guy Rigby, who heads up the entrepreneur group at accountants Smith & Williamson.

  • Something about The Beatles (and Stackridge)

    Published on 14th April 2011

    I am often asked what I think about the television show Dragons’ Den.
    While it has done a sterling job in raising awareness of entrepreneurship in the UK, particularly amongst young people, it has to be remembered that it is only a television show.

  • Re-invent yourself!

    Published on 31st March 2011

    Bored? Unfulfilled? Then why not just re-invent yourself?
    Back in the 80s, Christine Comaford and I were both upstarts in the computer industry; I was opening up an office in Boston for my first start-up, The Instruction Set, while she was working as a contractor at Lotus. Who would have thought, all those years ago, that one day we’d both be best-selling authors?

  • Wow!

    Published on 17th March 2011

    So when was the last time you said ‘Wow!’ about the quality of customer service you received?
    My guess is you are thinking the exact opposite, especially during a holiday break, when civilization in the UK seems to grind to a complete halt. Perhaps you were fuming at the state of the rail network; perhaps, like me, you are waiting for your dentist to amble back to work somewhere around the second week in January; you might even still be trying to arrange delivery of some Christmas presents ordered over the internet.

  • Mike’s magic email

    Published on 3rd March 2011

    I recently returned from speaking in the Far East to an inbox of several hundred emails. Many hoped to interest me in their services or suggest subjects for this column. Almost all had one major drawback: they were far too long.
    There is a saying attributed to many, including Mark Twain: “I am sorry to write you a long letter, I did not have time to send a short one.” We all send too many emails and most of them are far too verbose. The attention span of a potential customer is very short, so you need to convey a very simple message with a clear call to action.

  • A wit and to woo

    Published on 17th February 2011

    Stephen Fry, as you all know, is an actor, presenter, author, director and unofficial national treasure. What you probably also know is that he is also a mega-star on the social blogging site Twitter. Stephen is one of the most followed Twitterers in the world with over one million followers, and his following is growing daily.
    I caught up with him at the Apple Store in Regent Street, where he was speaking as part of their ‘Meet the Author’ series. Despite his old-world appearance, he is a self-confessed gadget freak, having purchased the second Apple Macintosh in the UK (his friend and Hitchhiker’s Guide author Douglas Adams bought the first).

  • Marketing on a Beermat

    Published on 2nd February 2011

    There are many characteristics that are common to most successful entrepreneurs, including vision, confidence, ambition and drive.
    But a common feature of all the ones I know and like is that they care passionately about the people who use their product or service: their customers. This, I discover from Chris West’s new book, Marketing on a Beermat, is the ‘marketing mindset’. And I thought it was the prerogative of sales!