Renowned British entrepreneur and star of BBC's Dragon's Den Online, Shaf Rasul has built up a multi-million pound property and business portfolio, winning many awards along the way, and even featuring in The Sunday Times Rich List.
Only Marketing was thrilled to have the opportunity to pick his brain on all things entrepreneurial, from tips for staying ahead of the competition to his career challenges and Brexit.
What are the secrets of being a successful entrepreneur?
The first thing to understand is that being an entrepreneur means you’re in the risk business. If you’re not prepared to take risks, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. You have to be fearless.
You will make some mistakes, but if you can learn from them and become mentally stronger, then you’ll be halfway towards your next success.
Some will take a hit and they will feel like their world has collapsed around them. Luckily, failure never defined me. I only saw it as a bump in the road on the way to much better things.
If you accept that failure is an inevitable part of the journey, then you may have the entrepreneur mind set. Not one major entrepreneurial success story – be it a Branson, Sugar or Zuckerberg – has avoided disappointments, so get used to them.
In the end, the successes you achieve will make up for the difficulties you've met and overcome along the way.
Any top tips?
Never believe that, because you’re the person in charge, you should have all the answers.
Instead, build a great team around you that will provide you with those answers. The best entrepreneurs understand that they have a narrow field of expertise, but they can supplement that with great people, both internally and externally.
Likewise, don’t be afraid to seek out mentors. You’ll be surprised at how many entrepreneurs who have been there and done that will be happy to share their knowledge and advice. It’s important to keep giving back – it’s the unwritten code of entrepreneurialism.
These often become enduring relationships, and don’t forget that mentors may one day come to seek out your advice in return. It’s a two-way street.
What have been key challenges throughout your career?
Successfully adapting to what’s coming next is always a challenge. Often the greatest mistake you can make is sitting still.
Many retailers initially refused to believe that the web would change their business model – that physical outlets and footfall would always decide the winners and losers. By the time they’d adapted, the damage was done.
Foresight and the ability to spot growing trends in the market are the backbone of sustained success. Successfully identifying a trend may even allow you to be first to the well before it runs dry.
How has Brexit changed the world of business?
It’s undoubtedly been a massive headache – there’s no escaping that.
We’re now firmly off the radar in terms of where we originally wanted to be by this point in the process, and it’s created uncertainty for so many.
I think it makes huge sense to proactively take steps to safeguard the elements that make brands truly unique, whether that’s through stockpiling ingredients, components, or securing a largely UK supply base.
Assuring stakeholders of a robust contingency plan can be just as important as ensuring that products will still be on shelves.
Nevertheless, regardless of what state of preparation a business might find itself in, I firmly believe that our businesses will find a way to thrive in a post-Brexit world.
I’m firm in my belief that enduring quality will win out in many Brexit scenarios. Britain can brave Brexit.
If you aspire to be the next Shaf Rasul, Only Marketing can help you get there! Please contact Emma Tyson or call 0800 612 9890 to find out more.