5 Minutes With… Peter Harrington

Welcome to the latest in an ongoing series of entrepreneur interviews for The Small Business Blog. These short Q and A sessions are conducted by myself and will feature some of the most exciting figures in the business world.

Our second interviewee is Peter Harrington, founder of SimVenture – an innovative learning and teaching resource for prospective entrepreneurs. Peter started in business in 1989 and has started and grown numerous companies in the fields of research and marketing, design, print, consultancy and software.

Peter HarringtonHere’s my interview with Peter:

Why did you become an entrepreneur?

For me, becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t a conscious choice. Back in 1989 when I started my first company in York, I didn’t sense any real entrepreneurial identity. The truth is, I had bypassed the world of corporate interviews and given myself a job.

But flapping around with a fledgling research and marketing agency taught me the fundamentals of start-up and survival. And since I’ve always thrived on self-reliance I adapted to my new world relatively quickly. Through luck and intuition I discovered that being my own boss was fun. I would have been crap in corporate land.

Challenge has always motivated me; inevitably perhaps the first business grew. The experience of recruiting staff, moving premises, winning larger contracts and starting related businesses made me realise I was more of an entrepreneur than a business owner.

Name one thing you have learnt from while in business, and from who.

Running your own business finds you out. We all have weaknesses and to deny their existence and impact is foolish. About 10 years ago I started working with an experienced business mentor who I learnt to trust very quickly. As a consequence, his straight-talking gave me a much better perspective on a number of critical issues. I would advise anyone running a business to have a trusted mentor whose capacity for thinking and ability to communicate ensures weaknesses are addressed properly.

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?

Find out what makes you sing! Without a deep desire to do or achieve something, the critical energy to survive and thrive when the going gets tough (and it will) is not necessarily there when you need it most.

For me, this quote sums up the wonder of entrepreneurial life:

“We take risks not to escape life … but to prevent life from escaping us.”

Vince Lombardi, US Football Coach

Why did you create SimVenture?

Around 1999 I became increasingly concerned by the disconnect between the realities of starting and running a business and how and what budding entrepreneurs were being taught. Determined to make a difference I teamed up with my brother Paul so that a business simulation which offered an engaging, authentic and sustainable difference could be created.

In 2006 we launched SimVenture in the UK. It has since gone onto win a number of awards and is used by people in schools, colleges, universities and organisations big and small all over the world.

Big thanks to Peter and SimVenture for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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