1. Explain what you do/your company does in 15 seconds
I run an art gallery in the centre of Oxford specialising in modern and contemporary art work. We’re specialists in the field– we’re in a niche but we focus specifically on investment artwork that is beautiful to look at and fantastic to grow as an alternative to the main portfolios. I love doing it very much.
2. What made you decide to join F12? What were you looking for?
My expertise is in the history of art; I have good knowledge of how the art world works and runs. However my business knowledge is not at the same level as my art knowledge. So what F12 did for me was to enable me to basically have an insight into strategies and processes that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to get access to so that I could run not only a fantastically interesting gallery but actually a commercially viable one too.
3. What were the 3 biggest challenges in your business prior to joining F12?
One of my biggest challenges was actually having enough business knowledge. Paul and the F12 group are fantastic at disseminating knowledge not only the theory but the actual practical use of that theory. Before I joined F12 I wanted to set up a further gallery in Oxford but this time round I wanted it to be a real show stopper; I wanted it to be the main art gallery in Oxford. I needed the gallery to be in a prime site and to be a large space, all of which are quite ambitious aims to achieve. What F12 did without a doubt was to give me the strategy and insight to enable me to actually take those aims and achieve them and indeed in the first year of F12 I did exactly that. We set up the gallery in the prime site. In fact it was the spot in Oxford that I would want to be in and as a result of that we were able to raise the investment funds and then implement the entire project. We are now sitting as I speak to you in that very gallery on Broad Street in the centre of Oxford. We couldn’t have done that without the support of F12. I’m actually on the prettiest street in Oxford and I would like to say probably in the prettiest shop in Oxford. People love coming in to see the actual art work. We have two specialist areas, modernism which is Picasso, Matisse, Chagall and Miro, so they’re really big names. To be able to have Picasso and Matisse around you all day is absolutely wonderful. We also specialise in Victorian art more specifically, pre-Raphaelite which is a particular excitement because it was in Oxford that the Pre-Raphaelites began. They all went to Oxford university and began their incredible artistic career from this city and so we have a lot of works connected to the city so in that respect. Our relationship with the university is very big and we’re extremely excited to be involved with the History of Art department and the Ashmolean.
4. What specifically has changed in your business or yourself as a result of F12?
There are two big things that have changed the first being without a doubt my mind-set. One of the greatest things about F12 is being with like-minded business owners who’ve all got different struggles and different ways of trying to achieve what they want to achieve but all want to succeed. Paul and F12 got me into the right headspace. A lot of business is about personality, if you get the right headspace and the right approach to your business you’re likely to be very successful. Businesses are very human institutions, they’re not robotic, and they have people who run them. Businesses usually reflect their owners and therefore as a business owner to have an amazing business your head needs to be in the right place. The right mind-set is one of the most powerful gifts that F12 has given. The second thing is getting the right strategy and if you then combine the right mind-set with lethal strategy you’ve got a lethal concoction of both personality and savvy business approach really.
5. How would you describe the group to non-members (who may never have experienced something like this before)?
I was that person. When I started F12 I had never experienced anything like it before. I had no idea what this funny old group was all about. I would describe the group as a massively eclectic set of businesses. There are many different types of businesses represented, there isn’t a type but that’s to the benefit of the mastermind group. In actual fact one of my biggest insights into my own business came from a lady who ran an oven cleaning business. You would never relate Picasso with oven cleaning but actually she had the absolutely right advice at the right moment enabling the business to do far better than it could have done otherwise. So one of the great things about F12 is that you’re in a like-minded group of people that want to do well; who have the right attitude and a positive approach. Everybody wants to do well for themselves which is right and proper but if someone is a bit unsure about what the group is like there’s every type of person in there.
6. How does F12 differ to networking clubs or breakfast club type group?
It’s hugely different. The difference with F12 is the accountability and the implementation. You have hot seats and you build up relationships within the other businesses and therefore you become accountable to them. So if one month you talk about doing such and such in your business, people are actually expecting you to report back on what you said the month before and this means that the speed at which things then get implemented is dramatically different. You simply don’t have the physical contact, support and accountability in the same way a Networking Club does.
7. What have been the 3 biggest breakthroughs/a-ha moments since joining F12?
A big growth moment for me was that there’s someone who has the answer on how to make every single challenge better. What’s remarkable is that this is true irrespective of how difficult a challenge is and some businesses have had very challenging, volatile situations. F12 provides not only strategic support but personal support too, which enables these challenges to be overcome. I think this is the big aha for me because whatever happens and no matter what comes up you know you’ll find a solution. This gives you the confidence to get on with the job. In fact your ambition increases because you know that there’s a supportive network behind you if you should need or meet any challenges. In fact F12 has said go for growing your business times 10 and when you think of a business at 10 times bigger that’s enormously bigger. You know that if you do go for that you’ll still have the support to enable you to do it and that gives you massive confidence.
8. How would you sum up the tangible benefits to you/your business since joining F12?
I think the tangible benefits become apparent when you carry out what has been taught or follow through on your growth moments. You can then actually see them happen. The tangibles are incredibly apparent when you follow through what you’ve learnt each month. If you do that every month, by the end of the year you’ve gone miles, and the business has had accelerated growth.
9. How would you sum up the intangible benefits to you/your business since joining F12?
The biggest intangible benefits are the change to my mind-set and the increase in my confidence that has come out of the first year, to take big growth decisions. By the end of year 2 we have added over £1M to our turnover as a result of the strategies were deployed from F12.
10. What value do you feel Paul brings to the Mastermind?
Paul is a very unusual man. I’ve said that repeatedly because he is someone who has got the practical experience of running businesses but who is also a visionary. Having run businesses himself he doesn’t just have academic book knowledge and though he’s very pragmatic, very real and very level-headed he’s also aspirational. The fact that he’s an inspirer means he has this lethal combination of a visionary but also practical and feet on the ground approach. And that obviously for something like a mastermind is the silver bullet really. He is the silver bullet of Mastermind because he’s very precise, very pragmatic but also very visionary. I’m very pleased to have met him; I’m a raving fan.