86: From a Desk and a Telephone to Floating a Business: with Jonathan Straight
Jonathan Straight is a Yorkshire-based entrepreneur, writer, photographer and television presenter.
His story is a dream-come-true for entrepreneurs: Started his own business with little more than a desk, a telephone and an idea, ten years later floated that business on the London Stock Exchange.
One of the most rewarding aspects of building his own business was that he was able to do it his way, eventually establishing a factory on eco principles when he set up in manufacturing after buying up segments of the supply chain in his industry. He stayed true to his principles and achieved success at the same time, a real recipe for career satisfaction.
Jonathan was a rebel at school and didn’t really enjoy much of the academic side other than A-level business, which grabbed his interest. It was here that the seeds were planted which would lead him throughout his career. His ambition was always to own a public company and create value and equity. His chance came when in 1993 he was working as a consultant with a plastics company in the environmental container market. They folded but he carried on with the embryo of a project, which would eventually become Straight plc.
Having worked at Straight for 21 years, he delivered more than 50 million recycling bins. At least half the households in the country will have had at least one straight product at some point in time! That is pretty impressive. He sold the business and moved on to pursue his other interests including working with charities and projects he is just as passionate about.
Jonathan is a former winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year, no surprise given his success with his best-known venture, Straight plc and his life-long love of entrepreneurship. He is currently Enterprise Ambassador for the Leeds University Business School.
He’s also a director of water saving NGO Waterwise and contemporary art gallery and learning space The Tetley. He engaged as Brand Ambassador to Approved Food, a Sheffield-based food redistribution business. He is also involved with several charities including the international food waste campaigning charity, The Real Junk Food Project and creativity champions IVE. In addition, he has invested in several start-ups, including solid-state photonic cooling business Inclusive Designs Limited where he chairs the board.
Where does he get his energy? He loves what he does, which is probably key. Also, it may have to do with power naps because he is a big fan. According to Jonathan, 15 or 20 minutes a day is key to maintaining all that creative energy.
Jonathan shared three of the most important “Commandments” of business:
- Never, never, never give up
- Share and give of your time, money and expertise
- Be honest and truthful; Your business is your reputation
Jonathan takes inspiration from his favourite business book, Hegarty on Creativity: There Are No Rules by John Hegarty
He also likes to remind himself of this quote:
“You might not realise it when it happens but a kick in the teeth might be the best thing for you.” Walt Disney
"If you can dream it, you can do it." Walt Disney
What do you think?
Whether this is the first episode you've come across, or if you've listened to all 86, I would love to hear your feedback. Reviews on iTunes are hugely important to the success of the show, so I would be incredibly grateful if you were able to spare a minute to leave some honest feedback there. Thanks so much if you are able to help.