“Welcome to a new way of doing business”, said Managing Director, Julie Hawley, as she kicked off a weekend that involved everything from round table networking to carnival dancing. The highlight being 2016’s Digital Entrepreneur, Steve Bartlett. At just 24-years’ old, Steve has built a multimillion pound enterprise attracting giants like Apple, Coca-Cola and Warner.

Starting with zero-income, Steve has amassed a social media network with the power to make a given subject the world’s #1 trending topic in less than 30 minutes. He calls it Social Chain.

“I give the future to those who understand the power of social media”, Steve said, closing an inspired presentation. It was this atmosphere of positive engagement, of future trends and new thinking that cut through the whole weekend. From the interactive app and frenzied Twitter feed to resilient leadership training and networking opportunities, here was 48 hours dedicated to modern entrepreneurs.

The weekend had teed-off on the infamous Brabazon Course, before Keeley Shepherd, Office Friendly Sales Director, introduced the Supporting Women in Business, Festival of the Mind. Commercial’s very own Simone Hindmarch-Bye took to the stage for an interview-style session. Here, she revealed the secret to the company’s growing success and their dedication to Corporate Social Responsibility – a message that chimes well with Office Friendly’s programme for 2018.

Afterwards, Office Friendly led a proactive AGM session and delivered a successful set of financials for the year. Members were also welcomed to be open and honest with feedback for VOW which was appreciated by all sides.

Suits were off that evening as members kicked back to a festival-themed fancy-dress party. Whilst wining, dining and networking, members took to the live karaoke stage, discovering hidden talent as they sang their hearts out to classic festival tunes.

Back to business and back on stage the following morning, Julie Hawley dissected what it means to be a modern entrepreneur.
“Entrepreneur is a mindset. Success follows those who continually rework their original business model for the modern world. Your people are your biggest asset and you can do no better than mentor them well. Succession is key.”

VOW’s Martin Weedall discussed how the wholesaler is focusing on core strengths whilst committing to open the doors of their distribution centres for Office Friendly members. “Use it,” he said of their impressive centre in Arrow. “After all, it belongs to you.”

Keynote speaker and ex-England Rugby Captain, Rob Vickerman, showed how sports apps, modern nutritional science and mindful thinking can come together to create effective and resilient leaders. Drawing on his experience as a top-flight athlete he explained how he had come to realise that the same principles that make successful sportspeople, also make effective entrepreneurs.

This was followed by a round tables session that got to grips with some of the key issues facing members at the moment, such as GDPR, the future of the wholesaler, and how to win big.

Later, more than 50 suppliers showcased their latest products in an exhibition that gave attendees the chance to network, communicate and learn about the relationships that can be built across the industry.

The festival closed in style as attendees donned black tie for a Carnival themed dinner. Things quickly warmed up with Latino dancers, a pre-dinner conga and round of limbo, before a silent auction was held in support of charity, Mind.

Seven awards were presented including The Mike Hindmarch Dealer of the Year, which went to Citrus Office Group, as well as raising money through silent and live auctions.

It was a fitting end to a festival that celebrated all things entrepreneurial. Reflecting on the day, members were inspired by speeches, involved in topics, proactive in discussion and educated in exhibition – all whilst networking with peers. As ever, members were left wanting more of everything the following year.

To find out how Office Friendly can help your business grow, contact the team now on 0114 2566300.