Smart Investments and Being the Best You Can
I recently enjoyed one of my favourite entrepreneur interviews, with ex-Top Gear co-host and creative entrepreneur Quentin Wilson. Quentin helped popularise the television show that became one of the biggest in the world, which I believe at one point had over 300 million viewers.
It turns out that Quentin and I have a lot of common interests and I would happily have chatted for the rest of the day, so it is a pleasure to break down some of his advice and viewpoints in this blog for you now.
The importance of honesty
Quentin has high-level business ethics and claims that he has “no time for shysters and swindlers”, saying that business should be more about trust, integrity, transparency, fairness and plain speaking. He discussed how he sees business as being “about people buying from people you like”, and how essential he feels it is to have trust in those you do business with.
At their essence, Quentin’s comments are about networking, reputation, and always fulfilling what you claim you are going to fulfil. Without regular networking, it is impossible to find people who you feel confident and comfortable enough to do business with. Without building a good reputation for yourself or acknowledging the reputations of others, you are never going to convince people to trust your word. And without doing the things you say you are going to do, you are never going to gain a good reputation in the first place.
In Quentin’s words: “Business for me is about being good, decent, and plain speaking.
“It’s about people buying from people they like. This is a simple, simple thing, and it’s done me proud. There are lots of people out there saying no, no, you’re too sensitive, but I’m absolutely adamant about this.”
Quentin elaborated by saying that business deals should never be taken just for the money, but instead simply because there is an opportunity to be had. By this he meant that overpromising to a client is never a good idea, and by being honest about what you can do and what you are willing to do serves both your business’s and your client’s wellbeing.
Quentin offered his views about what can make for a smart investment, which he claims often involves purchases that can be touched and felt, such as classic cars and property, and which have an aura of exclusivity.
He said: “Anything rare that’s special and irreplaceable would always go up in value. If you know what the value of something is and you can buy it under market [cost], you will make money.
“People trust things you can touch and you can predict and you can understand much more than equities, stocks and shares and futures and things like that.”
Quentin emphasised the “kudos” factor of certain investment purchases, and while I am more used to investing in properties in a different manner (i.e. by buying BMV properties which will be reliable to rent out and will return high yields) the exclusivity factor can be applied to my love of watches. Being particularly interested in one area of the market that allows for purchases like these – whether it’s in property, art, watches, cars, or even fine wines – can give a creative entrepreneur or investor an area of expertise in finding purchases that are likely to rise in value.
Giving the example of how the Lamborghini Miura rose in value from £5,000 in 1973 to a million today, Quentin said: “This is where the clever money is. Know about something, and be an expert in that one market.”
Be unique and the best you can
Quentin also espouses the importance of standing out, refusing clichés and being as “real” as you can be in business. It is his view that you must surround yourself with positive people and avoid those who are “toxic” and who will dilute your ideas.
Quentin appreciates bravery and uniqueness of vision in business, and described how essential it is to have something to say that is different and special, because this is what makes people listen. He is frustrated by the way that television today seems to be more about showing the negative aspects of our lives, or the same regurgitated programmes that have been shown many times before. Quentin envisions a set of shows that champion difference and the importance of business, which will teach viewers something while they watch.
One of the problems is that TV directors live very different lives to entrepreneurs and most viewers, and are sometimes afraid to try something different. Quentin believes that it is only when people in business embrace inspiration and difference that they will find something truly worthwhile.
He added: “This individuality, this strength of purpose, this belief, this understanding that you have a different voice and you’re a non-conformist is what’s really important.
“Be different, and then what you’re selling, what you’re offering, what you’re saying, shines out like a shaft of gold.”
Ultimately: be disruptive!
Quentin’s views about standing out and doing something different tie in comfortably with the concept of being a disruptive, creative entrepreneur.
He said: “[Being disruptive] means that you’ve got an attitude or a business proposition or a business model that breaks the mould. ‘Disruptive’ is a positive description, because it brings new energy, new employment, new growth, new specialisms into a market which might just stay the same.
“Markets do move, they are organic, and they change. If you’re a disruptive entrepreneur, don’t take the term as an insult. Disruption in markets and economies is good. It’s what we need.”
If you enjoy reading interviews with creative entrepreneurs, you can find another great interview with entrepreneur and founder of Coffee Republic Sahar Hashemi here
You can also find my book Life Leverage here, where you can learn how to get more done in less time.
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