Professor Gary McEwan, Elevator CEO and Grey Matters coach and mentor, has supported hundreds of start-ups across the North East. Reflecting on the most successful businesses, he discusses the importance in making the most of opportunities and why creating your own luck could play a bigger role than you think.
When individuals reflect on the success of a business, they sometimes wonder the impact luck had to play. Was it born solely out of someone being in the right place at the right time? Or does luck having nothing to do with it?
There is no doubt in my mind that luck is key in any successful business story, but – I believe – it is also about being open to serendipity and using it to your advantage.
Serendipity is about finding things that we are not looking for, but they turn out to be invaluable; it is what happens when we make unusual connections and create something we possibly hadn’t thought of before.
In order to make the most out of opportunities you need to introduce serendipity into your business and personal life, but how do you do that? My advice, you need to break out of routine. Routine is the enemy of serendipity.
As an entrepreneur, if you always do what you have always done, then you will continue to miss out.
The most successful business leaders actively seek out opportunities, and for Elevator, this is where Grey Matters can help. In collaboration with Scottish Enterprise and the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC), we have created a programme for those in the energy sector looking to collaborate and drive their future in a different direction through the development of teams capable of propelling business opportunities forward. The programme provides individuals with the opportunity to fuse their skills, personalities, experience and ideas, creating something bigger and better than before. Their own serendipitous discovery.
Serendipitous discoveries are not usually random events, but rather connections or insights which occur when we are searching for one thing only to find something else.
If we look at Apple as an example everyone knows of Steve Jobs, the mastermind behind the iconic brand. He had a vision to revolutionise technology, but he couldn’t bring it to life without the support of his friend Steve Wozniak, the engineer behind the very first hand-built Apple computer in 1976. From there the Apple story tells itself.
It was the synergy between the duo which made it work, their skills complemented each other which in turn led to the development of an extremely profitable business. The first company to ever reach $1trillion in market capitalisation, announced in August this year.
You could say this was Jobs’ and Woznick’s own serendipitous discovery.
Here’s a secret, no one succeeds without support from the unexpected. But most, if not every, successful business person utilises the skills of planned serendipity to make the most of opportunities.
Grey Matters provides those with a strong background and ambitious foresight with this practical skill. It is a chance to put yourself in unfamiliar situations within familiar environments, to mix with previously unfamiliar – but like-minded – people to collaborate and create a high-growth, scalable business.
Essentially, it is the kind of luck you make for yourself.
If you’re looking to start your own serendipitous journey, you can apply to be part of the next Grey Matters cohort here: https://www.elevatoruk.com/accelerator/greymatters.
Professor Gary McEwan, Elevator CEO and Grey Matters coach and mentor