Ambition should always be celebrated but the entrepreneurs and business builders showcased in this year’s Top 50 Most Ambitious Leaders deserve extra credit. To grow a business and remain ambitious against this backdrop is especially tough.
While the natural reaction for many is to retreat in more testing times, it’s those that go against the grain and push on for growth that often reap the greatest rewards.
According to Andy Grove, Head of New Business at LDC, and a driving force behind the Top 50, one key strength of high-quality management teams is that they will prevail no matter the economic climate. “They turn barriers into opportunities,” he explains. “They are quick to make strategic adjustments when markets turn. This is why we are so fascinated by the business leaders showcased this year - these leaders have been tested and come out fighting.”
LDC has been backing management teams at fast-growth mid-market firms for more than 35 years. “We have seen downturns and recessions come and go,” explains Andy. “We know that great leaders need to be bold and invest in growth during the good times and the bad. The potential rewards are significant.”
Many of the most successful leaders that have been supported by LDC in the past have played the long game and won, he claims. “Private equity was just a part of their growth journey.” Charles Rolls and Tim Warrillow launched high-end mixers firm Fever-Tree in 2004, when there was just one major brand in the category. They brought out exciting new flavours and, by the time the company listed on AIM in 2014, Fever-Tree had won significant market share. Tom Joule began selling clothes at events in 1989, bringing vibrant colours and great design to traditional countryside wear. The business, Joules, which is now listed, is still resonating with customers, growing 17pc last year to generate £218m in revenue.
According to Andy Grove, private equity removes many of the barriers to growth. “We provide capital to invest in product development, geographical expansions or acquisitions,” he says. “We help business leaders take the brakes off and accelerate growth. Often having an external investor can bring clarity of strategic focus and we can act as a sounding board.”
LDC and The Telegraph created the Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders to celebrate ambition because, ultimately, success all comes down to the drive and focus of great leaders. An incredible idea can fail because the entrepreneur lacked the ability to execute it. A humble start-up can become a mighty success because one individual had the tenacity to keep going.
There has never been a more important time to find, support and celebrate Britain’s ambitious entrepreneurs. They are the future of our economy, the engineers of growth. They are the people who still keep innovating and investing when others would throw in the towel.