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In for a Penny - A Business Adventure

Cover of  by Peter Hargreaves

In for a Penny says ?Plain speaking has never held Peter Hargreaves back?. It?s true, now a multi-millionaire, Peter built his investment company Hargreaves Lansdown with Stephen Lansdown, in the most savvy, practical and cost-effective ways possible and was never afraid to ask for what he wanted, especially if it did not already exist! He may have cut a few corners, but innovation is a key theme throughout this business career, revealed warts and all. The bonus is an insight into investment products but will not, however, teach you how to invest. The real lesson for us all is in the first two pages of Chapter 1 - how important it is to be exposed to entrepreneurship at an early age, that's when we absorb it without even knowing.

Reviewing this book is a shift from my usual themes but I wanted to because Peter?s company is one that I have watched with interest from the outset ? from receiving his first newsletter and continuing to receive updates ? knowing how well his company plays the waiting game for potential customers and must have been well rewarded for doing so! There are clear lessons about customer (and alliances) relationship development and insights into how to (and not to) treat people. And there?s a theme going on here ? we?re both good Yorkshire stock, say as we find - though it may offend some people from time to time but isn?t it better to know the truth? Barriers? What barriers? Where there?s a will ? there?s a way! We?ve each been good for the people we?ve employed ? so it seems. Peter started his company in 1981 ? just as I was launching my first business centre ? so we?ve similar timelines but my itchy feet led me to be a serial entrepreneur with over ten businesses, while Peter persevered brilliantly with his one core business, pioneering new ideas, to make it a leader in the investment industry.

And now, even though they floated the company in 2007 for £800 million (and I admire the way that Peter and Stephen went about it ? and must mention ?The Rochdale Cowboy? and Tracey Taylor), their typical Yorkshire stringent financial and economical thinking is still something that we can admire in terms of sustainability and knowing that the founders are still at the helm.

Peter?s comments have stirred quite a few memories from my own early days in business when he talks about some of his business issues. Makes me think of how I taught my staff to look for the easiest solution whenever anything went wrong, especially with equipment, as inevitably in business it does. For example, when the machines don?t work, think twice before calling in the engineers and technicians, for heavens sake look and see if the fuse in the plug has blown!! You?d be amazed at how many times, in those early days of my new business empire, that really was the problem. This one simple mantra saved us a fortune!! Memories also flood back of early days of computers and word-processing (in our case Amstrads then - thank you Sir Alan) and compatibilities (or not)! We all know that nature abhors a vacuum and will fill it ? so the ingenuity (or foolhardiness) of leasing twice the necessary space and hiving half of it away behind false walls before staff knew about it, ready to expand into which they did from rapid business growth? is an interesting example of his belief in and passion for success.

I love Peter?s reference to the perfect example of what not to look for in a boss, Merryl Streep in ?The Devil Wears Prada?, although I have to say this is one of my favourite films but you?d have to be a woman (leader) to understand!

Peter says that he?s been interested in money since he was 11 ? must have had a great upbringing then? I have to say that my entrepreneurial discovery of the value of money began when I was just three ? but hey Peter got to the IPO and I get to talk to and inspire thousands of people to achieve their potential (from a serial entrepreneur?s perspective) through being a Coaching and Mentoring Enterprise Champion, keynotes at conferences Valerie Dwyer at Women Speakers and blogging!

This book will not turn you into an investment expert ? that?s what Hargreaves Lansdown do! If you?re looking for a straight forward, tell it as it is, streetwise, tale of a business start up that became, and still is, a £ multi million success ? you may just learn something, but don?t expect it to be totally PC. All said, I encourage you to read the book, and visit

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