The road to business success can have pitfalls and landslides – even for the super-rich and famous

Anyone been watching Jamie Oliver’s fly on the wall documentary ‘Naked Chef Bares All’ hosted by Davina McCall? It follows Jamie’s journey through the collapse of his restaurant empire, which included Jamie’s Italian and his beloved Fifteen eateries.


But I was struck by one comment he made, “I didn’t really know what I was doing.”

To be fair, there isn’t a masterclass on running your own business that shows you all the ropes; we all have successes and make mistakes. Many of the things that trip us up can’t be learned, they just happen and you have to deal with them – they are the lessons. As your business ages, you have the experience that gives you more wisdom to be more mindful of the pitfalls.

Experience – including success and failures – is what makes you a good businessperson

In the video shown above, Jamie admitted that despite being a top chef, TV personality, and a multimillionaire, he also wanted to be able to call himself a businessman. Being honest with himself, he has later realised that he’s got different skills… and that’s OK. Indeed, he’s a fantastic businessperson when it comes to creating recipe books, making TV cookery programmes and in his amazing work to promote healthy eating in schools. Despite his failed restaurant ventures, Jamie’s still got a lot to be proud of.

So being a celeb doesn’t automatically mean you’ll succeed in business

Just like any well-known brand, do we perceive there’s reassurance when doing business with public figures, including celebrities like Jamie Oliver? I think the answer would be yes. Most people would think they’d be pretty safe doing business with someone estimated to be worth £100 million. But the creditors list for Jamie’s restaurant empire unfortunately says otherwise.

Companies House information highlights the extent of the debt the company has left behind. Within this list of creditors there will be larger and smaller businesses that will have to bear the brunt of Jamie’s mistakes.

I’ve noticed the rise in popularity of ‘celebrity businesspeople’ – many originating from the mass of reality shows such as The Only Way is Essex, The Real Housewives of Cheshire, The Apprentice, and Dragon’s Den. Utilising their new-found notoriety to infiltrate the world of business, people are more aware of them and see their wealth and fame as an assurance that they are good at business – or at least that they won’t be left high and dry.

It takes more than fame and fortune

Jamie looks genuinely upset that his restaurant chain is no more and that he’s let people down. Perhaps Jamie has been too hard on himself. Most entrepreneurs fail at some stage – even billionaires such as Donald Trump and Sir Richard Branson have been there and done it. Perhaps it’s fair to say you only know what you’re doing once you’ve had a few knocks – and you never stop learning.

3 top tips for success – from Sir Richard Branson

Branson has lots of wisdom to share on the topic of running a business, including these tips:

  • Learn to delegate – “Having a belief that no one can do it as well as you is ignorance. The world is full of talented people,” says Branson. One of the biggest failures of business leaders is not letting go and getting into the habit of micro-managing. And I completely get why business owners do this, but in Richard’s words – it will limit your financial potential. No one will ever do something in the same way as you, but by giving away responsibility you free up your time to concentrate on the future of your business. So give your people the opportunity to shine – they may surprise you, too. If there are specific ways you want things done, then put a process in place and make someone in your team responsible for ensuring your staff use that process.
  • Take a break away from the business not just the office – how many of you business people haven’t had a proper holiday this year, or, have been away but have still checked your emails on a regular basis. It’s really important to have some time to recharge your batteries. A recent study also suggests that a 3 day-weekend could be beneficial to get those creative juices running too:
  • Do you make lists? So does Richard Branson – Having lists can ensure you’re organised and it also provides a sense of achievement in ticking tasks off a list.

Jamie also gets a mention in one of our previous blogs where we discuss what sausage rolls can teach you about improving your customer experience and evolving your business:

Looking to get to the top?

If you’re looking for more business success, book a meeting with Brevity to discuss how building a robust marketing infrastructure and running regular marketing activities can put you in good stead. Contact us today to arrange a no-obligation meeting with our Director Kaia Vincent, Fellow of the CIM and business owner since 2010.

Brevity is a marketing company based in Basingstoke, Hampshire and we offer marketing services for start-ups, charities and SMES.