A taste of the Cooper Sessions at Sheffield Technology Parks – a series of bespoke talks for small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to take their business to the next level

In the last issue I talked about the launch of the Cooper Sessions, our new year-long programme of fireside chats and working lunches with tech entrepreneurs and experts designed to give digital start-ups and business leaders practical advice and ideas.

In this edition, I am pleased to report on the success of our first sessions…

Lunch and Learn with leadership and management expert Elizabeth Shassere

The focus for our first Lunch and Learn was taking stock and looking ahead to make 2019 a successful year, with Elizabeth Shassere, author of Becoming a fearless leader: a simple guide to taking control and building happy, productive, highly performing teams. 

Elizabeth focused the session on helping entrepreneurs ‘overcome any feelings of self-doubt or complacency which may hinder their performance’. She emphasised how important it is to use a model as a basis for self-assessment and handed out her tried-and-tested scoresheet for taking stock. Attendees had to score themselves honestly on a scale of one to ten for six different elements which make up the foundations of a business.

This was a great opportunity to take a step back from the everyday pressures of running a business and reflect on the all-important basics, identifying specific areas for improvement. It was also a chance to gain a deeper understanding of personal and team performance and set out a clear vision for 2019. As one attendee said: “It was helpful to put mind to paper and visually see where improvements need to be made.”

Fireside Chat with Jamie Hinton, CEO of Razor

In our first fireside chat, we focused on how you move from running a side project while in employment to creating a start-up. We learned that it takes time to build up examples of successful work before going solo, and it needs a vision for how to employ staff from the outset.

Razor started life in the evenings and weekends alongside Jamie Hinton’s full-time role as Head of Technical Development at Technophobia.  Jamie managed to balance both his full-time role and his freelance work for four years before formally registering the company and leaving Technophobia.

He was motivated by his grandfather’s advice: “If you turn your passion into a job, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Co-founder Steve Trotter brought complementary skillsets which helped the business to flourish. Jamie and Steve built up enough of a buffer so that they could forego their own pay for a certain amount of time in order to hire their first employee. They now have a team of approximately 20 employees and an ever-expanding portfolio of work, helping companies to use technology better.