Successful Darwen entrepreneur highlights his secrets for success

Imran Hakim, CEO of the Hakim Group, whose headquarters is in Darwen, gave a fascinating insight into the mind of a successful entrepreneur at the latest TiE (the Entrpreneur’s Organisation) Lancashire meeting.

The event was held at Blackburn Cathedral in support of their Crypt 100 Club fundraising appeal.

Imran, who is an entrepreneur, inventor, innovator and mentor, is most famous for his appearance in 2007 on Dragon’s Den, when his iTeddy invention was backed by Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis. Since then, the product (voted the best toy invention of the year) has been exported to over 45 countries.

He started his entrepreneurial career at 15 whilst at school, buying and selling computers and continued doing this whilst at university, where he qualified as an Optician. He founded his first opticians in Bolton in 2004 and within 15 years, the Hakim Group now has over 110 optician practices, adding a new practice every week. It is the fastest growing group of  independent optician’s in the UK and Ireland.

Each practice thrives on their independence, with Imran and his team focusing on the numbers, digital marketing and a consistent back office infrastructure for key Group support functions, such as HR, IT and digital marketing.

During his 30-minute talk, Imran shared some of his drivers for success and some key lessons learnt.  Said Imran: “It is important to recognise what drives you and makes you get up in a morning – your WHY. Dream big but also understand the potential risks. ‘What if’ are two of my most powerful strategic words!

“It is also crucial to know when to step away and if necessary, if a business has to fail, make sure it fails fast and cheaply. Learn your lessons and adapt to change. To be able to scale a business as quickly as we have, you have to have a clear and consistent business model.

“However, the number one ingredient for success is your people, who you must enable and develop to ensure they flourish. I am extremely proud of the fact that since we started, over 15 years ago, not a single employee has left and in 2018, we were recognised as the Times 100 Best Small Company of the Year.

“Finally, the other magic ingredients are your values, goals and associated culture. We have five: honesty, ambition, kindness, industrious and meticulous. All these values are encased in our entrepreneurial circle and our ten-year plan, which we annually update at our managers’ conference.

“Our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) must be inspiring, possible, fit for purpose, support the company strategy and consistent.

“If you follow these guidelines, you will enjoy your career as an entrepreneur. I certainly have, otherwise I would have done something else, since you must enjoy what you do.”

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