Wednesday, 6 January 2010


I remember in the days before the X-Box, the Computer and mobile phones, if there was nothing worth watching, then I’d nip up to my bedroom and get all creative by building a huge robot that would save the human race from destruction by some as yet undiscovered alien life form or if I was really bored, design and build the car or house or train of the future from the deep dark recesses of my mind.

Those were the days….. the days when instead of being spoon-fed by the interactive technology we have today, you’d have to use your imagination and become creative. Innovative.

Back in the late1940’s (er, no I’m not that old!), as the world was coming out of the turmoil of World War Two another world domination plan started to come out of Denmark. Nope, not bacon and not butter but a small plastic block with lumps on it. The LEGO brick.

Over the next few years, LEGO encouraged new ideas and followed new trends to become one the world’s biggest selling products (440 billion bricks sold since 1949) and now 400 million people will play with LEGO this year and there are on average 62 LEGO pieces for every person on Earth. If you lay the bricks sold this year end-to-end, they’d go round the equator five times and by selling 306 million tyres every year, LEGO has become the world largest tyre manufacturer!

“So Mark, why are you telling me all this?” I hear you yell. “What’s this got to do with business in Barking & Dagenham?” Well, there’s to angles to this. Innovation & Survival.

As we hopefully start to pull through what was quite frankly one of the most scary years in business the world has ever seen, businesses need to be looking at how they can kick-starting their businesses again to enable them to survive.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of innovation is “a new way of doing something or "new stuff that is made useful" ” and I actively encourage ALL businesses to start re-thinking in this way. This is a blank-sheet-of paper opportunity for businesses of all sizes to re-think their master plan’s and start strategising on how to grow their businesses over the coming months.

Equally, 2010 presents a fantastic opportunity for anyone considering going-it alone and starting up a new business. Thinking about new stuff leads to new business creation and ultimately creates more jobs! Exactly we need !

At BDSBC we’ll more than just listen to your ideas. If some of the people you’ve spoken to about your business idea think you’re completely bonkers, then come and talk to us ! We listen to every idea and wherever possible, help turn it into a reality. We’re totally open and brutally honest and if we agree with some of your friends then believe me we’ll certainly tell you if we think you are bonkers but what we really want to here from you about exciting new ways to do “stuff”. Not just things that do stuff well but things that do stuff better!

Money is going to be tight. Banks will still be cautious about lending, the public sector will be cutting budgets left, right and centre and we’ll have an interesting election battle in the spring to contend with. But to me, that creates a really exciting challenge, and to the entrepreneurs of Barking & Dagenham a REAL opportunity !

Start talking to potential customers about what they need from you that’s different. What do you do that could help them? How can you work with them to create an innovative solution?

Six, eight-stud LEGO bricks can be combined in 915 million different ways and as the expression goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat….so put your thinking caps on, disappear into your bedrooms or boardrooms and start thinking about how many ways you can do stuff better. 2010 is a great opportunity, so (and no apologies for this)..don’t LEGO (“let go”, get it ?!)

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