A Dealmaker for the British government does some tough-talking to explain the secret behind clinching a good deal.
For the past decade as the UK government's Dealmaker within UKTI's [UK Trade and Investment] Global Entrepreneur Programme, I have been responsible for bringing the most innovative young companies from India, China and South East Asia to the UK. I have had an unusual insight into what help they need, and a lot of success in helping them do it, so I've put together some of my thoughts for those of you looking to make UK connections and secure that expansion deal.
Introductions don′t matter; first impressions do
I′ve got news for you. Yes, I know sometimes the right introduction does matter, but it has to be in person, with someone you have a long-standing rapport, probably over drinks and dinner late in the evening.
I see around 150 people in person about their technologies annually. Those are the ones who get past the filtering. The vast majority fail for the following reason:
- They are solutions looking for problems. You have a limited amount of time to impress me or anyone else. So going on about how brilliant your solution is, without addressing what the global problem is that it solves wastes time and let me think you can't run a company.
- Scientists who want to be control freaks. So it's your baby and you want to run the company - really Not gonna happen, Einstein. The guy with the money calls the shots - not you. Don't like it, go ask someone else for the money.
- Focus, be professional, be on time, remember the correct day, arrive early, set up your laptop, find the location, have my number, tell me where you are seated in advance. All of this saves about 50 per cent of your allocated 30 minutes of fame. ONLY one person ever got all these things right when he came to meet me. His name Peter Cruddas, now a billionaire. He came to see me at Bloomberg. Would not take no for an answer. Got everything set up beforehand without bothering me. Trust me, I interview you well before we've met.
The way you see things matters
Train yourself to see only opportunities in everything - the UK is constantly looking to boost its economy, and what better way than attracting innovative talent from abroad. The two scarcest resources on earth are not diamonds or oil, but money and blood - or to be specific entrepreneurial gene. Governments around the world are in a fierce war to capture as much of those genes as possible. Use this to your advantage!
Sealing the deal requires patience. I will have trading apprentices who will just start trading straight away without filling in even my simple one page business plan. So they will not set a goal. They will therefore throw away a massive opportunity to create an income because of their premature excitement. Excitement is good. I love that. But focused controlled excitement and a sure idea of the target you are aiming for is better.
Make intellectual property in India, for your Indian company. Then yes, take that company global (preferably from the UK) and sell, rent, licence, lend, franchise that intellectual property.
You see, if you make pharmaceuticals for an American company, it's the company which takes its profits abroad. But then the Indian company owns the intellectual property, it takes that global and profits from it from everywhere.
The long term goal matters
Always remember to see the big picture - the business plan, the long term goal. Being professional as a business means knowing not everything always wins. That all you have learnt before which has not won you that great deal or contract was probably wrong. Stop and ask yourself this question: are you too busy repeating the mistakes of the past that you learnt from those who never made you successful to begin with
And finally, what is the first commandment of a successful entrepreneur or company Thou shalt be optimistic. Getting things done requires a positive outlook and a motivated mind. Find the positives and capitalise on those, mitigate as much as possible the uncertainties and negatives, and do not indulge in wishful thinking, but rather plan and succeed.
Alpesh Patel is a UK Government Dealmaker, seeking outstanding entrepreneurs to land their companies in the UK. He is also a barrister, CEO of hedge fund/private equity firm Praefinium, author of 18 books on business and investing and a Visiting Fellow in Business at Oxford University.