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We held our January 2018 South Yorkshire Masterclass yesterday delivered by our most extraordinary Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) Simon Biltcliffe of Webmart.

Creating a Business-The Yorkshire Way

Simon aimed to give us an inside track on an alternative business model. In return we were asked to suspend preconceived ideas and open our minds to the oxymoron of Marxism and Capitalism working together to create a better world. The problems of capitalism are-huge inequalities, environmental degradation and human exploitation-leading to unexpected political outcomes such as Brexit and Trump.

Webmart

Simon set up Webmart in 1996. Webmart has never borrowed a penny, has made a profit every year and now has net assets in its balance sheet of £7.3m whilst paying an above average amount of tax each year which goes to pay for the NHS, Schools, Police, Armed Forces etc.

The average income of the 50+ employees is £47,930 and this in the printing market which is suffering structural decline whilst donating £545,850 to charity and helping the environment by being carbon positive to the equivalent of having an extra 2276 employees! And Webmart/Simon have won lots of awards.

The Business Model

To empower all the staff, keep running your business as simple as possible.

First principles of a Marxist-Capitalist business. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. But most businesses only measure one thing, financial return. Marxist-Capitalist measure 3 things; Intellectual, Emotional and Financial returns.

Intellectual return

Find out what people are good at and what they are bad at and let them do more of the first and less of the second. Evaluate their strengths and weaknesses before they start with psychometric testing and then by everyone else.

At Webmart everyone comments on everyone else’s personality under Great Things and Areas for Development; the only one that is made public is Simon’s.

Give everyone unlimited training.

Emotional Return

Maximise the love and fun. We measure happiness every day and publish it on our website. How, simply by asking. By making a profit with a purpose to help you and the team, and to help the least well off. And sharing the good and the bad by a weekly video so we only have one version of what is. Whilst giving reassurance all the time, security of employment is massive.

Financial Return

Too much money doesn’t make you happy, nor for the avoidance of doubt does too little!

Our aim is for all people to have enough, not for those at the top to have infinite wealth. We work out what is enough for reinvestment in the business and for the ownership group and the rest goes to the team. Of the £1m profit, £400k is reinvested in the business, of the next £600k, 50% for the team and 50% for the ownership group and profits above £1m is 100% for the team. The team have received an average bonus of 30% of salary over the last 4 years.

Conclusion

So as business leaders you have a choice.
Work can be both more interesting and more rewarding. Society can be fairer and more sustainable.

Nick Butler

26/01/18