Mike Southon

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Mike Southon 1 (1.4Mb).jpg

Full name: Mike Southon

Area of interest: Innovation and entrepreneurship

Journals/Organisation: Financial Times

Email: mike@mikesouthon.com

Personal website: http://www.mikesouthon.com

Website: http://www.ft.com/management/entrepreneurship

Blog: http://www.mikesouthon.com/blogs-e-zine.aspx

Representation: beermat.biz: http://www.mikesouthon.com/book-mike.aspx

Networks: https://twitter.com/#!/mikesouthon | http://uk.linkedin.com/in/mikesouthon



Education: Papplewick School, Ascot; Wellington College, Crowthorne; Imperial College: mechanical engineering (not completed); University of Bradford: chemical engineering and economics


Current position/role:

  • also writes/written for:

Other roles/Main role: Visiting fellow in innovation and entrepreneurship at London South Bank University; fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Professional Speakers’ Association

Other activities:



Broadcast media:

Video: pod3.tv: The Beermat Entrepreneur: In Search of The Mea (YouTube VIDEO)





Books & Debate:

Mike Southon Sales on a Beermat.jpg
  • The beermat entrepreneur: turn your good idea into a great business OCLC 48834891, 2002
  • The boardroom entrepreneur OCLC 60370080, 2005
  • Understanding finance on a beermat OCLC 62479343, 2006
  • The beermat entrepreneur: turn your good idea into a great business OCLC 61879097, 2005

Latest work: Sales on a beermat OCLC 228197809, 2008

(all titles co-authored with Chris West)

and see: beermat.biz: The 'Beermat' books

Speaking/Appearances: http://www.mikesouthon.com/book-mike.aspx | http://www.mikesouthon.com/events-gigs.aspx


Financial Times:

Column name:

Remit/Info: Innovation and entrepreneurship


Role: Commentator


Email: mike@beermat.biz

Website: FT.com / Mike Southon

Commissioning editor:

Day published: Saturday (in print)

Regularity: Weekly

Column format:

Average length:

Articles: 2012

Articles: 2011

  • Beware the taxman’s dash for cash - Small-business owners are being treated like crooks - 17th December
  • Bring on the entrepreneur’s bank - Virgin Money could become an entrepreneur’s bank with minimal upfront investment or excessive risk-taking - 10th December
  • How to beat a recession - If your business offers a discretionary expense, focus only on those who can still afford to pay - 3rd December
  • In business, the truth will out . . .  - Every small business that wants to prosper over any substantial time realises that honesty is the best policy - 26th November
  • Charity can begin with a brand - Connecting charities with commercial brands and retailers can be a win-win for social entrepreneurs - 18th November
  • Unbound, but not unpublished - Mike Southon became disillusioned with the traditional publishing methods. So can a new model provide a better outlet for an author? - 12th November
  • Still preparing for the next upturn - Recessions are the perfect time to start a business... but set simple but achievable financial goals - 7th November
  • Let’s hear it for real-life entrepreneurs - Rather than sit on our hands and complain, now is the time for entrepreneurs to get out there and sell our way out of the recession - 31st October
  • Suited to a different fashion - Lesego Malatsi’s vision was to take elements from 11 different local cultures, modernise them and inspire generation of indigenous fashion design - 24th October
  • The art of selling to SMEs - Sellers need to understand that it is not about the buyer’s turnover, but the number of people in the organisation - 15th October
  • A prime time to become an entrepreneur - The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise aims to help over-50s start their own businesses - 1st October
  • An appetite for a business opportunity - Mike Southon meets a woman with celiac disease, who turned the restrictions in her diet into a business opportunity to help others - 19th September
  • Talent dynamics and the trust dividend - Mike Southon finds someone who has been able to help large organisations release the entrepreneurs within - 6th September
  • Er, professionally speaking... - Public speaking is easy, but getting paid to do it is more difficult - 5th September
  • Private equity is key to recovery - The opportunity to get venture capital backing is often thwarted by the mutual mistrust between owners and investors - 22nd August
  • My time as a Riot Womble - Mike Southon helps with the post-riot clean-up from Chalk Farm to Clapham and concludes that the solutions are entrepreneurial not political in nature - 13th August
  • Go where the action is - business angel events show an appetite for backing start-ups - 1st August
  • A laudable legacy ambition - Football club owner’s legacy project is to provide a sustainable business formula for community sports and leisure - 23rd July
  • A taste of Branson - What I learnt from hosting a question-and-answer session with the founder of the Virgin Group – with only 15 minutes notice - 9th July
  • An unlikely entrepreneur hub: the Central Okanagan region of Canada - Enterprise zones in the UK are typically based in depressed urban areas hit by the decline of traditional manufacturing industries. However, there is a different model that can potentially deliver even better long-term results - 29th June
  • Students offer inspiring lesson - Mike Southon sees a reason to believe in the potential of young people - 21st June
  • Tell the taxman to help us out - Mike Southon calls for a new system of getting small businesses to pay tax after a frustrating weekend trying to communicate with HMRC - 11th June
  • Social work is lucrative for all - The creation of new enterprise zones could foster a new generation of social entrepreneurs to help deprived communities - 8th June
  • Working miracles at any age - Mike Southon meets an entrepreneur who started her business later in life and benefited from the experience she had to offer - 28th May
  • Seek and you will find - Using funds to buy into an existing business can be a fruitful route to enterpreneurship - 23rd May
  • Time to turn the tables on the banks - Mike Southon was so disillusioned by banks’ service to start-ups that he undertook a survey of their attitudes - 16th May
  • Trailblazer sets tone for success - Mike Southon applauds the use of mentors in the government’s ambitious plan to encourage the unemployed to become entrepreneurs - 10th May
  • A revelation in customer service - Mike Southon considers the virtues of Metro Bank as a new entrant into the UK business banking market - 7th May
  • A few keywords for success - StartUp Britain faces many challenges in order to deliver on its promise to make Britain a more enterprising place - 27th April
  • Aim to be a great place to work - Mike Southon looks at the way a social enterprise in the north west has made itself a great place for people to work - 23rd April
  • A recipe for the perfect start-up - ACT Clean’s founders had their idea while playing on a football team and have gone on to score a business success - 16th April
  • Square the circle at a round table - Mike Southon leaps at the chance to arrange a roundtable of local businesses - 5th April
  • Grown-ups aid the exit strategy - Mike Southon enjoyed a relatively pain-free trade sale from his first start-up. He believes others can do the same by following some simple rules - 28th March
  • Websites need a human touch - Mike Southon offers a few tips on building the perfect corporate website - 22nd March
  • Tell the banks they work for us - Mike Southon is angry about how the banks have behaved in the past and wants his fellow entrepreneurs to demand a better future - 14th March
  • How to make an exhibition out of yourself - Mike Southon gives some pointers on getting the best out of an appearance at one of the season’s many trade exhibition events - 7th March
  • How to rise above recession - Recessions follow booms just as winter follows summer. The key is to be ready for it - 28th February
  • Go with the word on the street - If you also have a burning desire to make the world a better place, you should talk to vendors of The Big Issue - 26th February
  • The seven stages of finance - If finance is your area of weakness as an entrepreneur, then Mike Southon has a seven-stage plan to make your business stronger - 14th February
  • Make the right connections - If you are genuinely knowledgeable in a particular area, why not establish yourself as a key person of influence - 1st February
  • Turn a good idea into a great business - There is no such thing as a bad business idea, just the ability to get people to pay for what you do - 24th January
  • Resolving to build a strong business - My New Year’s resolution is to spend more time with those who could build their own business, but lack the confidence or connections - 17th January
  • What to do at closing time - Closing a sale strikes fear into the heart of nearly everyone involved in the sales process, but you can improve your chances - 11th January

Articles: 2010

  • The right attitude must come first - Setting up a software business is relatively easy. The difficulty comes in trying to scale up the operations - 22nd December
  • Good time for the write stuff - Getting a book published has never been easier, but it still requires careful preparation about the potential audience needed to make it a success - 15th December
  • The hardest person to hire - Hiring the right people for growth is an important priority, and the most difficult person to recruit is always the sales director - 11th December
  • Don’t litigate, just negotiate - Hot-headed entrepreneurs should beware that the only people who benefit from emotionally driven litigation are lawyers - 29th November
  • The unsung heroes of procurement - Mike Southon explains how three entrepreneurs turned a specialist online group for procurement professionals into a valuable and scalable business - 23rd November
  • Open your ears and listen well - The better you are at something, the more you need some professional coaching - 16th November
  • Shanghai tunes in to Liverpool - Mike Southon visits the 2010 Shanghai World Expo with Liverpool City Council’s entrepreneurial leader, Joe Anderson - 20th November
  • How politics mirrors business - Many politicians have made good business people, but few make the reverse journey with much success - 1st November
  • Networking is all about quality - Any network is all about quality rather than quantity, the depth rather than the breadth of your connections - 26th October
  • Sometimes cash flow is king - Mike Southon raises a glass to Naked Wine for creating a business model based on building cash flow rather than an inventory of products - 23rd October
  • Why the dream price is right - What differentiates a good business idea from a bad one is the owner’s ability to extract money from people - 9th October
  • Sound advice - Having the right image is vital for success in business, but many customers are more interested in sounds than picture - 2nd October
  • All you need is gumption - Mike Southon pays tribute to those regions of the UK, showing the gumption of a successful entrepreneur - 25th September
  • Personal proof of a testing routine - Mike Southon looks at the value of psychometric tests in assessing potential executive appointments - 18th September
  • A big noise from a Small voice - Mike Southon raises a glass to Norman Small, founder of the Federation of Small Businesses - 11th September
  • Tax that gives us something back - Mike Southon may sometimes rail at the way the government chooses to spend his hard-earned money, but he regards VAT as a completely fair tax - 28th August
  • Give our bright young a payback - Student entrepreneurship is thriving, a fact the coalition government would do well to remember when proposing graduate taxes - 21st August
  • Steely support from Sheffield - Sheffield is moving beyond steel and reinventing itself as an entrepreneurial hub with a new festival of start-up activity - 19th August
  • Accounting must be on the money - If you want a successful exit, choose your professional advisers quickly and carefully - 7th August
  • Er, what exactly do you do? - Explaining how to go from secure employment to a portfolio career requires a significant change in attitude towards work - 31st July
  • There is life after the public sector - Mike Southon offers some advice to those former civil servants who may be thinking about starting up on their own after the austerity Budget cuts - 24th July
  • A textbook study in entrepreneurship - Entrepreneurship is more about intuition than academic study, but an MBA can be helpful if you approach it in the right way - 21st July
  • Losing touch - Mike Southon looks at an agency that helps companies remain in touch with their customers as they grow in size - 10th July
  • E-news bearing more than words - Mike Southon looks at an online that attempts to use the reach of email newsletters to increase business knowledge - 8th July
  • Small engines for big recovery - Millions of people would like to start their own business, but the government agencies are often not a great support - 26th June
  • Survivor delivers sound advice - Mike Southon looks at the lessons learnt from a sound engineer who created a business renting out amplifers to pop groups - 19th June
  • Calling campus entrepreneurs - Opportunities exist for entrepreneurs on university campuses. They just have to apply some innovative thinking - 12th June
  • The phone call that raised $23m - it took entrepreneurial drive for Mark Rose to turn round the environmental charity Flora & Fauna International - 5th June
  • Human frailties bedevil decisions - Few of us put any serious thought into the formal process that is required to make the right decision at the right time - 27th May
  • Small country, big on enterprise - Mike Southon marvels at the attiude of Estonian entrepreneurs, who make a virtue of their small size and use leverage to advance - 21st May
  • Growing pains begin at 31 - What many ambitious entrepreneurs not realise is that as they grow the nature and style of the business changes radically - 14th May
  • Next big thing is no small matter - Mike Southon looks at the career of Mark Needham, founder of Widget UK, who has a better idea than most about spotting hot new gadgets - 8th May
  • Dresses for success - Mike Southon profiles Carol Alayne, an entrepreneur who is trying to bring Savile Row traditions to female tailoring - 1st May
  • A case of mother knows best - Mike Southon looks at what makes female entrepeneurs successful - 26th April
  • The media and your message - Television appearances can help improve your brand if you prepare carefully - 16th April
  • Funding for future growth - Mike Southon offers some advice for those facing the long, drawn-out journey to raise finance - 9th April
  • The right tools for the job - It is important to remember that entrepreneurship is a team sport - 6th April
  • Mentors, morals and manners - Iit is important for anyone providing mentoring to understand that it is often a thankless task - 27th March
  • Big steps and baby steps - Mike Southon looks at two entrepreneurs who have turned the recession into a positive opportunity to start up a PR consultancy - 23rd March
  • Every click you make - Mike Southon talks about how one entrepreneur has found a way to give back to society as a natural outcome of her day-to-day business - 16th March
  • The benefits of failure - Mike Southon explains why James Caan, the Dragons’ Den panellist and owner of private-equity business Hamilton Bradshaw, is a wise investor - 6th March
  • On top of the world - World domination is not as easy as many go-getting entrepreneurs believe it is. But that does not mean you should not try - 27th February
  • The mother of invention - Mike Southon charts the entrepreneurial journey of Shamus Husheer, the man behind an innovative fertility monitoring device - 20th February
  • Get me a good plumber - now - Mike Southon looks at two entrepreneurs’ attempt to create a big business opportunity from a group of self-employed tradespeople - 13th February
  • Footprints and fingerprints - The digital footprint of consumers represents a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs - 5th February
  • Angels on the fairway - Successful business angels all pass the golf club test - 2nd February
  • Bonuses, banks and benefits - Banks should repay their bail-outs – and some of the money could be channelled directly into the private sector, in the form of incentive-based loans for start-ups - 26th January
  • Gain some purchase - For entrepreneurs dealing with professional purchasing staff, the correct approach is to sidestep any grandiose promises and to focus on delivering a small piece of work - 19th January
  • Online routes to sociable business - Mike Southon compiles a list of tips for business owners using internet-based networking platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter - 9th January
  • Learn to work the networks - There are many online social networks and even more people who can advise on how to use them successfully. Much rarer are people who have started one of their own and made it consistently profitable - 5th January

Articles: 2009

  • The bottom line as top priority - Mike Southon draws some lessons from a woman who has achieved success by working intelligently through the recession - 19th December
  • Innovate with the internet - Mike Southon explains how people have used free internet models to create completely new businesses. - 12th December
  • We could all learn from Dyke - Mike Southon believes that Greg Dyke, former BBC director general, enjoyed the loyalty of his staff because he was a great leader. - 5th December
  • Take the free and easy route - Mike Southon claims that the concept of “free” business models represents a great entrepreneurial opportunity. - 21st November
  • Follow directions for surfing - A very straightforward business plan is the best starting place for a successful internet business - 14th November
  • Lessons litter memory lane - We all occasionally look back and wonder what might have happened had we done things differently. But there is no point in dwelling on the past - 7th November
  • Circus tricks and business skills - There is no reason why an introvert cannot be a very successful entrepreneur - 30th October
  • Don’t send your audience to sleep - Sponsor presentations at the start of conferences often send a cold chill through the audience. It does not have to be this way - 24th October
  • If you want my advice... - Being able to find the right mentor can clearly be the difference between success and failure for an entrepreneur - 17th November
  • Election policies that get my vote - With the party conferences over, Mike Southon believes now is a good time for people with good ideas to make their voices heard - 10th October
  • Tune into the spirit of giving - Big Brother is facing the cut. Is it not time for a better reality TV show? - 3th October
  • Use a foil to gain a cutting edge - Finding someone with complementary skills is a key element to building a successful business - 26th September
  • Virtual work leads to actual rewards - It is now common for start-ups to work virtually, and if you are clever you can use this to scale a business quickly - 19th September
  • There’s a moral in this story - The long-term prospects for entrepreneurship in the UK are very good, if the attitudes of many of our school children are anything to go by - 15th September
  • Find the fun in the figures - The successful entrepreneur has many attributes, including energy, ambition, charm and an almost pathological fear of the spreadsheet - 7th September
  • Pre-prepare for post-election - The holiday season will soon be over, and the political parties will be resuming their build-up to the next election. One battleground will be the post-election public expenditure cuts that will inevitably affect all of us - 2nd September
  • Avoid debt in the next downturn - I’ve been talking up recovery, but entrepreneurs also need to prepare for the next downturn – by having fun and always having cash - 25th August
  • Establish contacts - It is often said that your personal value is not what you know, but who you know. This is powerful motivation for recent graduates to build their personal networks - 20th August
  • A gem in a pile of rubbish - To become an entrepreneur, the standard procedure is to start with an idea and then try to build a viable business model around it - 20th August
  • More time is more money - The commonest unit for assessing business performance is money, as measured by the balance sheet. But performance can be difficult to measure on a personal level, unless you look at another important unit: time - 18th August
  • Find yourself a fund finder - In spite of often fierce criticism, I do believe that government has its heart in the right place when trying to support entrepreneurs. My only issue is how it chooses to go about it - 11th August
  • Memory lane to Penny Lane - It is good to recharge your ‘spirit battery’ now and again, and well-known destinations for this include The Vatican, Mecca and Jerusalem. Recently I returned from a pilgrimage to my first spiritual home, Liverpool - 21st July
  • Family dynamics - In the 19th century, the words ‘and son’ applied to a business was an indicator of security and longevity among the new middle-class industrialists and traders. But as companies began to grow and hire experienced management, many dropped the family epithet in order to appear more substantial, especially in international markets - 14th July
  • Letting go can cut both ways - A sad by-product of any recession is the painful process of having to let people go. This should always combine the realities of the company’s performance with an assessment of an individual’s contribution - 30th June
  • Nicely does it for me - I approve of the word nice. It is prominent in the very simple guidance I give to early-stage entrepreneurs: be local; be reliable; be nice - 23rd June
  • Enjoy the net results - There is a new mantra for succees in life and business: you must spend more time using online networks - 16th June
  • Britain’s got start-up talent - Becoming a long-term success in showbusiness is therefore a team game, and is the same as the basic model for entrepreneurship - 2nd June
  • A blueprint for a manifesto - The news seems to get grimmer by the day. This is not about the recession – most successful entrepreneurs have long since moved on from there - 27th May
  • Strive to break all records - Everyone looks for original ways to promote their product and a good angle to make them stand out in a crowd. Suneet Tuli did so by getting in to the Guinness World Records - 19th May
  • Take tedium out of talkfests - Spring is here, and for those of us on the professional speaking circuit, this means appearing at company awaydays – events that are intended to be informative and inspirational - 12th May
  • This way to a busier Britain - The government’s announcement of a new top income tax rate of 50 per cent for those earning more than £150,000 was followed by reports that some people, including well-known entrepreneurs, were planning to leave the UK - 6th May
  • Rescue remedy - The number of failing companies continues to rise as the recession bites and bills pile up. Dealing with creditors is one challenge, but when a tax demand puts the company payroll at risk, disaster may not be far away - 28th April
  • Sell yourself short - It takes skill and application to communicate your message in just a few words, which is why good journalists and copywriters are so cherished - 20th April
  • His pet project takes the lead - There will always be a need for local services with a little innovation - 5th April
  • Make the most of 7-year cycle - I often provide mentoring for early stage entrepreneurs and it is always fun to discuss new business ideas with enthusiastic people - 28th March
  • Give yourself an MOT - The recession has hit home recently as two of my friends’ businesses have gone under, in spite of having healthy order books - 21st March
  • All clear on the write stuff - People can be divided into two categories: those who are intuitive and like to think up new business ideas, and those who are more grounded and prefer to put these great ideas into practice - 15th April
  • Cut yourself a good deal - some tips on the art of negotiating - 28th February
  • Be as safe as houses - Making money through property speculation is popular in a good market. However, during a recession we are reminded that this is a complicated game only really understood by professionals - 21st February
  • A wit and to woo - Stephen Fry is an actor, presenter, director and national treasure, but what you may not know is the phenomenon that is his ranking on Twitter, the social blogging site - 14th February
  • Please just leave us alone - Sooner or later, the banks will start lending again. Those of us who know how to use debt sensibly are ready to use it to stimulate growth in the economy. The only thing holding us back is the excessive taxation and regulation we face - 7th February
  • Bright spots in January grey - January can be the most depressing month of the year, when post-Christmas euphoria vanishes with the arrival of credit card bills. This year, the gloom was compounded by the government revealing the depth of the downturn. But for those of us who ignored all this and got on with what we do, it was business as usual - 31st January
  • Turn the tables on your bank - I wonder if the bank bosses realise that the attitude of many small businesses has changed - 24th January
  • Cultural calamities - The current run on the pound means it is much easier for us to sell our services abroad. The only problem is that abroad is a very strange place, populated by foreigners, many of whom have some idiosyncratic ways of doing business - 17th January
  • Some skills can be bought - With the economy showing few signs of recovering quickly, it is time to improve your view of the road ahead - 9th January

Articles: 2008

  • High spirits in low times - ‘Time to realign and recommit was the best personal investment I could make’ - 12th December 2008
  • Present and correct - The best Christmas present Mike Southon can suggest is to encourage someone to start a new business - 5th December 2008
  • Let late payers talk to the hand - The biggest pile of complaints from entrepreneurs in Mike Southon’s inbox is not about winning business, but getting customers to pay on time - 28th November 2008
  • Grapple with knowledge - Mike Southon dreams that one day he will have his own television show - 21st November 2008
  • Speaking personally - As a professional speaker, you will be pitched into strange surroundings, sometimes with an incorrect brief, a poor sound system and a hostile audience – it can all go horribly wrong. But when it does go well, it can be life-changing and rewarding – reasons you got into it in the first place - 14th November 2008
  • Laughing allowed - We all need inspiration and good advice in these hard times, as well as a good laugh - 7th November 2008
  • How to grow in a cold climate - Where do small businesses now go to fund their growth? Mike Southon believes the picture is not as bleak as it first appears - 31st October 2008
  • It’s all in the blood - Asif Rangoonwala, the entrepreneur behind burger buns and powerboat racing, owes his success to skills as a dealmaker and a trader - 24th October 2008
  • Help is close to home - It is easy to blame the government for the mountain of rules, according to Mike Southon. What entrepreneurs really need is an accumulator - 17th October 2008
  • Turmoil is the place to start - A recession is an excellent time to start a business - 10th October 2008
  • Tap into some tribal wisdom - One of the side effects of the partial meltdown of capitalism is a flurry of long-forgotten banking contacts sending me their business plans - 3rd October 2008
  • The lowdown on high tech - Even in hard times, there are always business opportunities - 26th September 2008
  • Try enrolling at finishing school - Mike Southon says that in business it is important to get a good work-life balance - 19th September 2008
  • Put on your thinking cap - Mike Southon is philosophical about the skills required for a successful start-up - 12th September 2008
  • Be your very own hero - A new business book uses a simple metaphor for entrepreneurship: the hero’s journey - 5th September 2008
  • Parental skills on the board - The biggest challenge is not in the workplace, but at home coping with parenthood - 29th August 2008
  • Unhappy chats at the bank - One of the symptoms of a credit crunch moving seamlessly into a recession is the chore of entrepreneurs spending more time with their bank manager - 22nd August 2008
  • Five questions for networkers - Generating leads is vital for all small businesses – far too important to be left to the marketing department or salesforce - 15th August 2008
  • That passion for marketing - One common feature to all successful entrepreneurs is that they are all good at marketing - 8th August 2008
  • Fun is serious for success - If your company’s management consultants are not amusing enough, you can always hire some jesters from the Ministry of Fun - 1st August 2008
  • Turn browsers into spenders - If you are not getting enough business, I have a suggestion: perhaps your website is too beautiful. More specifically, perhaps you have not yet got the hang of Web 2.0 - 25th July 2008
  • How to speak volumes - As a professional speaker, I am often asked for advice on how to develop a speaking career or for some tips on saying a few words at a particular event - 18th July 2008
  • Try some DIY consulting - One of the advantages of working for a small company is that you do not have to worry too much about strategy - 11th July 2008
  • A fitness plan for lean years - All around the UK, we hear of belts being tightened and budgets being cut - 4th July 2008

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