In today’s fast moving global economy, the reality is ‘Lead or Die!’ Running a successful business requires more than just having great ideas. It requires visionary and innovative leadership. And every business owner (big or small) is a leader.

However, the problem is that creating a profitable brand, business or leadership that inspires and influences others is a lot harder than many people think. So I set out to seek insights from inspiring business owners across the UK. Here’s what I have learnt so far…

“When people are inspired by a business, 81% will recommend it to family and friends and 55% will spend more money with it!” Forbes 

Master Your Craft and Create Works of Art:

In the year 1880, three brothers (Thomas, John and William) set up shop in an outbuilding at Thomas Loake’s house at 62 King Street. Their vision was sharp – yet comforting. They would join forces to produce beautiful, handmade shoes, from natural materials.

In an era of micro-wave popcorn and instant internet downloads, their process may seem excruciating. A pair of Goodyear Welted Loake shoes can take up to 8 weeks to make. Add to the mix: some 130 skilled craftsmen, up to 75 shoe parts and over 200 different operations.

No corners are cut when it comes to attention to detail. In 1894, they established one of the finest and most advanced shoe factories in the country in Wood Street, Kettering, where it can still be found today – accomodating over 300 workers across 20,000 square feet.

Loake has made over 50 million pairs of Goodyear welted shoes since it began, exports to more than 50 countries, become a favourite with discerning customers globally and in 2007 was granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment to HM The Queen. I first got to know about them after I noticed that my husband bought all of his work shoes there because “they look great and take the pounding!”

In a reality where 50% of businesses fail within 3 years, this company has weathered ruthless recessions, a world war, multiple market shifts and enormous cultural changes. Yes, this is due to excellent general management and succession planning but at the core of every phenomenally successful business are products and services crafted like works of art and leaders who have mastered their craft.

It was this same philosophy that guided Steve Jobs as he created, positioned and sold Apple’s products. When most people buy the iPhone, they believe that they are buying much more than a phone.

Yes, they are buying the ‘why’, the bright, shiny, branding, pop culture status and the promise of excellent service. However, all of these things don’t mean as much without excellence at the core.

“We’ve been in business now for over 130 years and I am 4th generation in this family.” Says CEO, Andrew Loake. “We now have some 5th generation as well so there will be continuity after me fortunately. We are in an area (Northamptonshire, England), where there is a history of shoemaking tradition. The level of skill that we have in our craftsmen is something of which I am incredibly proud and I think the people who make the shoes share that pride.”

There is only so much advertising and discounting you can do as a business person and oftentimes it is neither possible nor viable to totally reinvent the wheel. So leverage creative thinking and mastery of your craft into products and services that the marketplace can value as works of art.

“Leverage creative thinking and mastery of your craft into products and services that the marketplace can value as works of art.” Ọgọ Ogbata 

Recommended Resources: 

We have partnered with WeWork, one of the largest and most exciting co-working spaces in the world, to launch The Inspire in Business Evening – a fresh mix of Conversations and Connections with Business Leaders who will share their best insights to help you Grow Your Influence and Profits. 

For a limited time only, you can enjoy an exclusive interview with Andrew Loake – CEO of the multi-million pound global company – Loake Shoemakers, established since 1880 and pioneer member of the Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce.

At The Inspire in Business Event, you can hear from Andrew Loake how to build a profitable and impactful business that stands the test of time. Plus how to improve how you lead yourself, lead others and lead in the marketplace. 

Update: The event referenced in this article has been successfully concluded!

The Editor

Ogo Ogbata is a writer, teacher, innovator and strategist.


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