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The Secret to Success May event

May 31 2009 by Peter Czapp

On 20th May, members of the Wow Network met to hear from two inspirational speakers: Avril Owton MBE, owner of The Cloud Hotel  at Brockenhurst in The New Forest and Paul Thomas, Director of leading direct marketing agency, Market Makers.

Paul Thomas

Paul Thomas, founder of the highly successful marketing firm, Market Makers, took us on a high-octane ride through his story from his first entrepreneurial success aged 12, up to today and the secrets to his ongoing success. Interestingly, Paul’s 5 key points are messages that most business owners know, but only the very successful ever crack. The over-riding message was to keep it simple: have a simple Marketing Plan (focused on generating a number of appointments per month); have a simple Sales Strategy with highly-incentivised sales people; have a simple Customer Service strategy focused on giving amazing service and looking for opportunities to cross-sell or up-sell; and finally to keep focused on Profit (“is it ever going to make the big money?”) and Cashflow (Paul monitors his cash flow daily on a 30 week rolling forecast). 

Paul’s 7 secrets to success:

1. If you have a good idea, try it yourself first. If you can sell it, anyone can!

2. Are your team REALLY any good? Use the ‘air-cover’ of the recession to ditch the deadwood

3. Don’t be the hero! If you’re the ‘hero’ of your business, solving everyone’s problems, you’re creating a bottle-neck that will hamper your growth.

4. FOCUS! Find your Golden Goose and focus on getting the most out of it before being distracted by other opportunities.

5. Ask yourself and your team: “Is this making the boat go faster?” Is what you’re doing getting you to where you want to get to (quicker)?

6. Know what business you’re building. How do you know what foundations you are building if you don’t know whether you’re building a shed or a skyscraper?

7. Have a mentor.

Avril Owton MBE

Avril Owton is responsible for building the renowned Cloud Hotel in the New Forest. Avril shared her story with us of how her background on the stage gave her the discipline, determination and ambition to cope. Without any business experience to speak of, she was thrown in at the deep end and had to turn around a failing hotel to provide for her 4 children, after being widowed at a young age. Whilst given little choice at the time, Avril is a great example of the importance of taking risks and not staying in your comfort zone. Avril’s isn’t a story about coping or surviving, the real story is in the secrets to how the Cloud Hotel has grown and continues to thrive.

Avril’s advice:

1. Be good at what you do and enjoy doing it

2. Be unique

3. Tell the world about it!

Much of Avril’s success would seem to be down to her winning mindset and general attitude: “ignore negative people, they crush your dreams!” This outlook has driven a determination to always give clients 5 star service, to create a business that continues to thrive whilst she is away and to have retained 50% of her staff for over 10 years, which in her industry is almost unheard of.

Avril had lots more to say and this summary can barely do it justice, if you ever get a chance to hear from Avril yourself, we would highly recommend it.

As Avril said, “people love a story.” And we certainly loved Avril’s.

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