Even then, these figures just wouldn’t be making headlines across the Atlantic; they pale in comparison to investments made in the Valley practically every week.
Why is it that with the UK’s history of brilliant inventions—most notably being the origination point for the original industrial revolution—does Silicon Valley dominate the world of technology business and the IT revolution?
Predominantly, I believe it’s down to the US’ ‘can-do’ attitude. Their positivity encourages innovation, removes the stigma around failure, and creates a strong working environment for all involved.
This is where the UK occasionally lets itself down, in my experience. Recent productivity stats remind us that Britain’s output per hour is 22.2% lower than that of the US—having worked in Silicon Valley, I really believe that this gap can be explained by our ingrained pessimism back in the London tech scene.
Perhaps the UK has lost the mojo that kicked off the original industrial revolution. So how can it get this back?
Unicorns—those elusive start-ups that top a $1 billion valuation—are typically found in the US; they’ve got four times as many as the UK market which should have all the ingredients for success. If we want to breed a few more unicorns of our own in Europe, here are some ideas to chew on.
1/ Cool to be…cynical?
From my experience, UK businesses tend to default to saying, “That’ll never work” when someone comes up with a new innovation. In the US, the same idea would be welcomed and encouraged every time, even if it winds up crashing and burning. Failure is OK—as long as you learn.
We’ve got a bad case of tall poppy syndrome. Look at the media—often criticising business successes as much as they do failures. As a business, you may have your five minutes of fame, but you may also be challenged by a negative stance. We have a fantastic tech scene; it’s time to give ourselves a bit more credit.
Silicon Valley businesses make mistakes, then learn the lessons
2/ The customer is always right
At Eggplant, our first priority is to ‘wow’ our customers, and to make their business a success. In the US, that’s the norm. Come to London, however, and you’ll find some companies who simply want to be right at all costs, even if it upsets their clients.
It may be an old adage that the customer is always right, but when it comes to building business success, it’s a great recipe for success.
3/ Think fast, act faster
Companies across the world can get themselves bogged down in ‘process’—it’s not just a UK problem. But many UK tech companies are guilty of it anyway, waiting for far too long before acting on an idea.
Today, challenger brands are disrupting markets at warp speed; if we realise that failure is the best teacher, the UK tech scene will quickly get up to speed.
4/ What’s the story?
I’ve heard countless business owners describe their product in wonderful speeches, only to clam up when asked what market issue it is that their product actually solves. Instead of being too inwardly focused, UK tech companies should remember that their differentiator should address a market issue.
At the end of the day, the story that responds to a demand will sell your company.
It doesn’t sound like rocket science, but US businesses are brilliant at anticipating the market and their sales and marketing reflects this. The UK is currently eating their dust, but this can change.
Taking a step back; I don’t want to come across too negatively! One of the best ways that any UK business can start down the road of positive change is to create a fun work culture. An uplifting environment that breeds inspiring people will attract and retain customers.
And the long terms benefits include making tech companies more visionary, quicker to react, more willing to take on innovations—well placed in fact, to lead the charge in changing our UK tech market for the better.