Management / Linzi Boyd: Born to run a business

Linzi Boyd: Born to run a business

By the age of 18, Linzi Boyd, author of Brand Famous and global partner of Shirlaws Group, had started her first business, a premium clothes shop in Leeds. Her store quickly earned a reputation, bringing brands like Diesel, the Italian fashion label, to the north of England.


When she was younger, Boyd knew school was not for her, so she left at 15.  “I never thought of any other route except being an entrepreneur,” she tells me.

“I have never worked for anyone else and it never entered into my head to work for anyone else. I have always loved building brands and businesses and recognised how to do that through doing it for myself.

“I had a well-known footballer’s wife work for me, and at the time Leeds United were huge and all the clothes used to sell out. It made me aware of brands, and other people’s brands, and how that could impact sales.”

Her business was so successful that, at the age of 20, she sold it and moved to London to set up a footwear brand. Within four years, Stride Footwear was available all over the world through six distribution channels, and Boyd’s shoes were recognised as design classics at the Design Museum. She sold Stride to Caterpillar and moved on to her third business, Surgery PR, at the age of 25.

Surgery has since been recognised for building some of the biggest brands on the high street today. She set up the company because she wanted to use the knowledge she had gained in her career to help others build their own brands.

“Interestingly it started with my first client, Mark Newson, who had just designed the iWatch,” Boyd says. “We launched his book, car, watch and bike – I was out there in Sydney with him for the millennium when he designed the lighting for the opera house.

“Now, 15 years on I am known in the market for building, renovating and
refreshing brands, building brands from an early stage, renovating brands from a dormant state, or refreshing brands that have already been doing well and might want to keep their position as a market leader or move onto the next stage.”

For the last four years, Boyd has been working with SMEs, and has set up her own school, BOB (Business of Brand), to inspire and educate a new generation of business leaders about the secrets of building a successful brand. Her book, Brand Famous, which covers the same subject, has become a bestseller. It outlines the steps she teaches to create a successful brand, which include discovering, creating, connecting, communicating and evaluating.

Boyd recommends people not to go to market with a product, but with a brand. “When Steve Jobs got up and talked about his brand Apple, he never said: ‘I have an iPad’. He got up and talked about technology and innovation and what that means for the world,” says Boyd. “What that future vision is and how it is changing the face of innovation and what that looks like. You have to build a business from a brand space first and then move into building out your revenue stream.

“What we teach people is to test, redesign and reiterate. Get it out to market as quickly as possible, redesign it to get feedback and reiterate it. Reiteration is the best thing that came around. It is okay to put something out there, redesign it and get it out there again. You go to four, five or six reiterations before you get it right.”

Boyd believes that, for SMEs, the world is now their oyster. She says: “Because of digital you are no longer playing a local game, you are playing a global game – which is great as you now have the world to play with.”

What is also imperative for SMEs is to have a can-do attitude. “There are a lot of people who will say you can’t do it, but you really have to listen to yourself,” she says.

Boyd has had many success stories from her training school, helping companies that were finding it difficult to take their product to market to become successful.

She tells me of a case about a businessman who approached her after failing to get funding for a passport identity tech business. “He came to us and we redesigned his business model,” explains Boyd.

“Within six weeks he got massive funding and a partnership with one of the biggest banks. He went out to market with exactly the same product, but we changed the
business mindset and redesigned a story around it.”

For Boyd, there is no other way of life but to be an entrepreneur. Her success has made her famous and now, through her book and her training school, she is helping other SMEs get recognised as well.


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