Jess Butcher is the CMO and Co-Founder of Blippar, and chief proponent and evangelist for the new verb “to blipp.” Follow her @jessbutcher.
Who is your hero?
Margaret Thatcher. Like her or loathe her, Britain’s first female prime minister made her way in a man’s world and changed the way we think of women politicians.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Stop benchmarking yourself against other successful entrepreneurs or business people – it wastes valuable energy! Your personality and circumstances are unique and there is no right or wrong way to grow an innovative business. Yes, learn from others’ experiences and be inspired by them, but also make your own rules and navigate your own path. Trust your gut instinct as much if not more than the numbers, and surround yourself with people who you respect and enjoy working with.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
I don’t really associate with the word “mistake,” preferring “learning!”
The occasional error of judgement or wrong move can often move your business faster than the right ones. To be honest, I don’t think we’ve made any big errors of judgement – only wasted time and effort that could have been better spent – but you tend only to appreciate that in hindsight, and re-focus accordingly. Knowing when to stop and draw a line under a particular strategy or approach is critical. About-turns are not weak, they’re strong and demonstrate good leadership, but they need to happen quickly and be communicated decisively.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
A bit of Twitter and industry website browsing first thing on my train commute (to put my head up and check out what’s happening around us), then a good half-hour of writing and rewriting to-do lists and priorities for the day. The sheer number of balls I’m juggling means I’m constantly scribbling down to-do lists. (And I haven’t yet found a to-do app that is as satisfying as my multiple scraps of paper when it comes to drawing a heavy line through a completed item, a big bold star or a screaming, underlined caps item in red!)
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Don’t pay yourselves until you have to! That, and hire a good finance director. This isn’t always possible from startup, but having that skill set within your founding team seriously helps. If you’re fortunate enough to have a product or service that you can trade for another, then “in kind” deals can help a lot with cash flow in the early days.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Possibly a slightly strange one – but if you haven’t already got one, find a good “better half” or at least draw closer to those real friends in your life whose support you’ll need. The life of an entrepreneur is all-consuming, with a poor work-life balance and a roller coaster of highs and lows. Having one personal, special cheerleader who celebrates your highs with you and brings you out of despondency during the lows makes all the difference and keeps you focused and balanced.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
For us, there’s a simple measure of success: when to “blipp” becomes as ubiquitous a verb as googling or tweeting, and as habitual an everyday behavior. Everywhere we go in our daily lives, we will be surrounded by physical images and objects annotated with Blippar ‘b’ instructions, which tell you why each is worth blipping and unlocking for a unique content experience. We will simply look at the world around us through an enhanced Blippar lens – whether via our phone or maybe even hardware we wear – and the world will instantaneously jump to life with additional content experiences.