Thursday, 30 June 2011

NEVER TRUST A TECHIE

Cards on the table. Sir Lord Alan of Sugar isn’t a close personal friend. We’ve rubbed shoulders once or twice, sure, at various charity fundraisers (which you know I love) and big hitting business events. We’ve both advised the government on business. We may even have exchanged words in the directors box at City, United or somewhere – fact is, I can’t remember. But what I do know is this – Baron Sweetner was 100 per cent bang on the money when he told the nation that engineers are no good at business.

He’s had a bit of stick has Alan. First you’ve got that Luke Johnson, the Pizza Express bloke, even Loz Jones has piled in. And of course there are a few exceptions to this rule. Sir James “Jimmy” Dyson for one, who makes ace Hoovers, so our housekeeper reckons anyway. But does Jimbo really sit down in his shed messing about with bits of metal and pipe cleaners like some crackpot science geek? I doubt it.

Business is all about selling a dream. When you think of the titans of business- Branson, Buffett, Trump, Cashman – the similarities are obvious. We’re all good-looking, charismatic men that people will follow. Natural leaders and born sellers.

Frankly, there’s too much of that clever-clever “oooh I’ve been to university” bollocks about. Well not at RC Solutions. The last certificate I got was for swimming and I’ve not done too badly for myself. For me, the only qualification that counts is a degree from the University of Life and frankly, we’re a bit suspicious of the techies.

That little dot com bloke, Manoj Ranaweera (who’s alright, to be fair) – said to me: “Roger, surely you’re a solutions business, how come you’re so successful but you don’t understand technology?” You don’t need to know the first thing about all the technical gubbins, pal. If you can convince bankers that you’ve got the stones to make something work, they’re picturing their bonus before you’re even out of the door, cheque in hand.

Sales is where it’s at. You can have the greatest idea ever and more techy know-how than you can shake a stick at but if you can’t sell you’re stuffed. Our sales lads aren’t even allowed a chair at their desk until they hit a weekly target. It’s a competitive environment that weeds out the weak and rewards the strong – someone once said it was like Darwin in action, but I don’t hire Lancastrians either.

That’s when you hire some specky geeks and middle-aged virgins to actually do the work. These people don’t have the vision and ambition to be great businessmen – it’s men like me that make them what they are. It’s even better now, because Russian maths graduates are even cheaper. I love globalisation.

Yes, the bar at Panacea is littered with tech investors and their hard-luck stories, but some of us are very comfy in the booths – the winner’s enclosure of life.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Cashman Business Club

At last, now there is a business club for like minded lads

As any premier league entrepreneur will tell you, it can be lonely at the top. Nothing prepares you for the unbelievable decisions you have to make.

The art of good business is simple – crush your competitors, stitch up your suppliers, cream off as much as you can, avoid tax. It’s that simple, but there’s no guidebook you can buy in WH Smith’s that can tell you how to do any of that. And let’s face it, these are the big talking points with all the lads when we’re knocking a ball around Mere, wolfing down the pizza in San Carlo or necking a few lite ales in the Alderley Bar & Grill.

That’s why I’m setting up a new Cashman Business Club for like minded business lads who need some help but don’t know where to turn. There’s plenty out there who will give you advice, advisers for a start. But they all send you these things called bills, which, eventually you have to pay, unless the firm goes bust of course.

Obviously networking is going to play a massive part in it – golf days, motivational speeches from me and various other lads I can invite along – Brad Burton, some of the Dragons, that lad from the Isle of Man who got binned off the Apprentice and, as it’s me, I reckon I can get The Plumber to make a comeback.

But let me tell you what it won’t be. We won’t be using any of that Twitter stuff. I’ve been on it for a while and it’s a total waste of time. I ask you this: is Pete Cowgill on Twitter? Or Mike Oliver? Or Phil Black? Exactly. You can follow me on @rogercashman if you want, but frankly I just use it to wind up the Man United players and to procure a few of my various leisure interests. It’s just a bit of banter.

The Cashman Business Club is not political. We’re not going to be going cap in hand to the councils and the so-called coalition government looking for a grant. This is hard business for hardcore lads. But if someone wants to give me £35m to build a website like the Business Link one, be my guest.

The Cashman Business Club won’t be boring. It’s not going to be like all the other dull dreary business clubs with their brochures full of blather and a room full of recruitment consultants. We won’t force feed our members with bumpf, but we are looking for sponsors who may wish to reach 10,000 of the region’s leading senior business leaders.

The Cashman Business Club won’t have awards where only our members get to win. Oh no, all our members will be winners anyway.

And the Cashman Business Club will be just for lads. It’s only right. The Dorises have got their own networks now – Forward Ladies for one, but to be fair I followed them on Twitter because I thought they were something else entirely.

If you want to join in – if you’ve got something to contribute, get in touch.

And obviously we’ll raise a few quid for the sick kids.