Teamwork and partnerships are vital to the success of any business.
Having been a “professional CEO/MD” for the past 11 years, I see myself as a facilitator in many ways — especially in encouraging cooperation within a team, with the ultimate goal of achieving a successful outcome for the business.
In my experience, collaboration is central to a start-up’s success. Here are my key takeaways on the importance of collaboration.
Collaboration leads to opportunities
Three years ago, while I was still managing director at Timothy Oulton's holding company, Halo, in my initial discussions with founder Marc (Nicholson) about 1880, it was very much about working with Marc to incorporate Timothy Oulton’s original aesthetic into the club’s design. That was where the Timothy Oulton brand was moving into — targeting hospitality properties, space design and interiors.
Back then, from a business perspective, I recognised 1880 was a great opportunity. Marc and I share a lot of similarities in the way we want to build the business, what it stands for and what it represents.
We had a very long courting process, but the opportunity to be the co-owner and the CEO of 1880 was exciting enough for me to take a sabbatical from Halo Creative Design.
Collaboration accelerates growth
Some say two’s company and three’s a crowd. But I’ve found that a start-up with the ability to align itself with key partners tends to accelerate its growth; it becomes capable of achieving much more in a shorter period of time.
Leaders in start-ups agree. A business starts with an idea, but an idea doesn’t go anywhere until it has some recipients, until other people can contribute to it, and until a team can come together to see it come alive.
In building 1880, we have always been open to bringing in key strategic shareholders who fit. To date, Timothy Oulton is personally taking a financial interest, Proof and Company is an investor, and we have an extremely tight partnership with our real-estate partner RB Capital.
Collaborative thinking supports an effective team
In my mid-20s, I was captain of the semi-professional London Welsh Rugby Football Club. In both team sports and a team that builds business, I realised that the need for alignment and a shared vision are incredibly important.
While captaining London Welsh, I played flank. It’s a position that’s in the thick of things; you have a defensive role, an offensive role and you’re always in the game. You’ve got to play well with all sections of the team.
This parallel between playing flank and what I enjoy in a business is quite strong. I like to have varied roles and responsibilities and I find it fascinating to work across multiple areas.
As leaders know, an effective team requires different talents — some fiery individuals who have energy, those who are “hidden” from view yet are critical for execution, and others who can steer the ship.
Part of being a successful captain or CEO has to come from earning the respect of your teammates — through leading by example, motivating and mentoring your team.
Across my experience, I’ve found that the ability to put your arm around people, to help them grow and deliver their talents is an invaluable part of reinforcing your leadership.
Mentorship gives people the self-belief that they can be better than they think they are and, as a result, they’re better able to articulate a shared vision. Thereafter, it becomes an easier job to lead and manage them as a collaborative whole.
Collaboration makes the world a better place
The trend of mass urbanisation that has characterised the past 40 years has led to the breakdown of social groups such as tight-knit families, and communities within a residential neighbourhood.
Additionally, it certainly does not help that technology has allowed more people to work remotely and without social interaction.
In the case of 1880, we hope to stem this tide by bringing people together in a social club and co-working space environment to create dialogue, collisions and potential collaborations.
When our business and social networks overlap effectively, individuals can access unique and compelling ideas, potentially creating synapses that could even give rise to new ventures.
After all, an idea only exists when someone else hears it, and it improves when it evolves. Regardless of the situation — start-up, multi-national or social-welfare organisation — connections become conversations, which lead to collaborations that effect positive change and transformation. This, quite simply put, leads to everyone’s benefit.
Luke Evan Jones, 46, is CEO of members’ club 1880, set to open in Singapore in October 2017. Jones graduated from Oxford University and qualified as a chartered account at Arthur Anderson in the 1990s. A chance meeting with Julian Metcalfe of Pret-a-Manger, and the opportunity to cut his teeth in the world of start-ups at Metcalfe’s Japanese restaurant Itsu changed that all. He went on to join Delphis Consulting as its CFO and led the sale of the business to Morse, a UK-listed company. In 2006, he joined Halo as Group CFO of its international furniture business (subsequently becoming managing director, then a shareholder) where turnover leapt from less than US$10 million per annum, to almost US$100 million under his stewardship. Jones remains the second-largest shareholder at Halo, where annual turnover is now close to US$200 million.