One of the UK’s most inspirational business leaders has told Herefordshire firms they must be prepared to fail fast and reinvent themselves to succeed.

Former British SAS officer Joff Sharpe, who is currently the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at British Land PLC, imparted his expert business advice during a speech at the Business Growth and Export Show on March 19.

Around 50 delegates attended the free breakfast event held at Hereford Racecourse to listen to Mr Sharpe as well as visit the Department for International Trade’s Export Hub truck which rolled into the event to help businesses grow their export markets.

Mr Sharpe talked to businesses about the lessons he had learned from his career to date from serving in the British Army, including a stint as an SAS officer during which he was based in Hereford, to more than 25 years in a variety of senior roles, working to improve the performance of blue chip companies.

Those attending heard how fundamental principles underlying the success of the SAS could be applied to SMEs to improve leadership and prosperity.

Mr Sharpe, who has previously worked for global brands including Mars, PepsiCo, News International and Vodafone but still has links to the city through British Land and its involvement with Hereford Shopping Centre and the Cathedral, said: “There are a number of key components to business success starting with a vision of what you want to achieve and the fabric and substance of the organisation that will deliver.

“Assembling diverse and versatile team members, bound by a common value system, is key.

“They then need to be clear on how to execute their plans at speed and be capable of reinventing themselves and adapting to changing circumstances.

“Finally businesses must be resilient, take stock and capitalise on learning.”

Author of ‘Who Dares Wins in Business’ (2014) Mr Sharpe advised businesses to be versatile, employ people with multiple skills and learn to ‘fail fast’ to succeed.

Speaking after his presentation Paul Hinkins, Chair of the Marches Growth Hub, said: “Businesses thoroughly enjoyed Mr Sharpe’s presentation and I’m sure all of us have been able to draw synergies with the points he highlighted.

“Learning in business is about continuous improvement. No matter how good we are, we can always do better.

“Here at the Marches Growth Hub we are always looking to improve and we do that by listening to the needs of the businesses we support.”

Lyndsay Francis, Economic Development Officer at the growth hub, said they were delighted with the turn out at the export event – a first for Hereford.

“Mr Sharpe gave an inspiring talk and we are confident his advice will enable business owners to look at their own organisations in a fresh light.

“Some of the principles Mr Sharpe talked about in relationship to motivation, courage, failure and resilience will resonate strongly with many people running their own company.

“The Export Hub truck also proved a hit with businesses looking for advice on how to grow their export markets.

“By making the most of potential overseas trade channels, businesses can boost their bottom line and grow significantly and we are delighted to have been able to help organisations with this next stage in their business growth.”