This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
20 | WEBMART WORDS | John Howell

company Webmart. Simon is another Yorkshireman. In recent months I have, by chance and good fortune, interviewed several leaders from god’s own county. I admit I am biased, being an adopted Yorkshireman myself, but Yorkshiremen are so often islands of sanity in a totally mad world: so often spirited and contrarian; so often worth listening to.

Simon certainly is. He knows nothing of international property but has a great deal to teach us. I am grateful to Guy Tolhurst of AIPP for unearthing this gem and inviting him to the AIPP conference (see page 38), where I met him and immediately wanted to know more. Simon started Webmart in 1996. This was the dawn of the Internet era. Worldwide, there were a mere 16 million users. Today there are 2.5 billion. So it was rare for a company to be set up with the Internet at the very heart of its business model – set up specifi cally to exploit the power of the net. Stranger still, it was set up to exploit the power of the Internet in an

A different way M

Meet the new way of doing business. Meet a rarity: a business leader who is inspirational and plain speaking, who has delivered the goods and who has absolutely no objection to you copying all his best ideas

eet Simon Biltcliffe, CEO of specialist print consultancy and print management

industry infamous for its conservatism and rejection of new ideas: printing. Since then he has built a £70 million per year business.

What made Simon take this path and what has made him so successful? More importantly, how can his success help our businesses?

“Why did I do it? I saw an opportunity. Print was an industry where it was hard to differentiate a new company. It was safe and staid and

“Using your own money makes you focus, particularly in the early days when money is short”

...well, boring. The Internet brought something new and exciting. It offered opportunity to someone fl exible enough to think about the future and do things differently.”

Four words – lifted from the company’s website www.webmartuk. com – characterise Simon’s ambitions and the company: self-funded, cooperative, fair and fun. Why self-funded? Clearly, today,

Simon Biltcliff e is founder and CEO of Webmart, a company specialising in advising upon printing and digital media requirements and then sourcing the necessary services. He can be contacted by email at simon.biltcliff e@

there is little choice but in the last few years banks must, surely, have been throwing money at him? Simon is clear and typically direct: “There are three main reasons. First, loans drive behaviour. Directly or indirectly, your lenders will infl uence – or try to infl uence – what you do.

“Second, using your own money makes you focus; particularly in the early days when money is short. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it! Or, at least, fi nd ways of doing it cheaply – not reducing service levels but delivering quality cheaply.” So he’s frugal then, this

Yorkshireman. This is not surprising. Frugality is in the very defi nition of someone from Yorkshire. “Third, having no fi nance also gives you the freedom to fail.”

How does it give freedom to fail?

“Succeeding in business is all about fi nding opportunities and exploiting them. Taking advantage of those opportunities is harder with fi nance. Most real opportunities – most ideas that give you an advantage – have to be counterintuitive and/or diffi cult. If they weren’t, they would already have been done. Lenders don’t like things that are diffi cult or go against their intuition. “The main downside of funding your own development is that it slows things down, especially at the beginning. When money is in short supply, that can be frustrating. However, the advantages of self-fi nance greatly outweigh the downside.”

Wacky | Simon believes in creating and maintaining a diff erent, more inventive business environment – and it works

What about cooperation? “Over the centuries, society has evolved through many stages. There have been major developments. We had the agrarian revolution, the industrial revolution and then the information revolution. Each brought dramatic changes to the way we live. I think we are starting a new revolution, every bit as important as those other revolutions: the collaboration revolution. This is cooperation with all around you. Your workforce, your customers, your suppliers and your competitors. “The fl avour of business has changed. The collaborators are the winners. The old ‘hub and spoke’ model of doing business – a strong centre with everything leading to it – is fi nished or, at least, it should be and soon will be. The days of the Alpha Male have gone. Business is now a more feminine affair. Working together to achieve results. “A great example of this is trust. There is no more effi cient – or cheaper – way of doing business than though trust. Trusting the people you work with. Trusting your customers and suppliers. Being as good as


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72