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Phil Smith, Cisco CEO and former Young Enterprise board member, writes for Wired Magazine

Phil Smith is UK & Ireland CEO of Cisco. He was appointed as the Chairman of the UK Technology Strategy Board in December 2011. He has worked within the ICT industry for thirty years and sits on a number of boards including Young Enterprise and The Employers Forum for Disability.

What is the most common mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

Selling themselves short. There are so many high potential entrepreneurs within the UK with ground-breaking ideas up their sleeves. However, what I’ve noticed is that many lack the confidence and resources to turn those ideas into reality. With the emergence of Tech City and initiatives like TechHub and the Cisco BIG Awards, there is now, more than ever, an array of opportunities out there for entrepreneurs to take advantage of in order to turn their ideas and businesses into global success stories.

Do you have any advice for dealing with investors?
Differentiate between the sales pitch and the investment pitch. Entrepreneurs have fantastic ideas and can sell their offerings, but the key is to develop an investment pitch to demonstrate ROI and growth plans.

What can you learn from the emerging talent?
What I’ve learned is that despite the economic uncertainty we are facing in the current climate, the entrepreneurs of today are still so full of hope and bright ideas. The relationship they have with technology is unique and although some are lacking the courage to take their ideas to the next level, their originality and affinity for IT amazes me. Whilst I was a judge at the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards in 2011, I met some remarkable young people. They weren’t complaining about the economy, but were talking about the advantages of technology in the changing market and how to exploit them.


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