Great quotes & business advice from ‘Business idiot’ Charles Dunstone

Charles Dunstone, talking at the Real Busines Entrepreneurs’ summit says he is embarrassed to be called an entrepreneur, he feels more like a a business idiot who stumbled into the world of mobile phones by mistake. As it grew, and the sector took off, he made a lot of mistakes but the massive and unexpected growth in the sector was a very forgiving partner – they got credit, got ignored by larger competitors and were left to get on with it.

“Growth is unbelievably forgiving” Charles Dunstone.

First shop was Marylebone Road. Second was in Cambridge, they thought ‘London was done’…

It was only when they started to have lots of money, that they started making mistakes. Talk Talk was one of the worst experiences of his business life and was totally enabled by the availability of too much cash. 2006 is a year he will never forget…

Buying Tiscali was a big cock up that turned out OK and now Charles get to be chairman instead of making too many mistakes in the operating businesses.

“Ego is a very dangerous thing in business.” Charles Dunstone.

If you are making money, shut up and take it.

“Scale is a difficult thing to manage.” Charles Dunstone

The perfect size for a business is 6 people as then everyone has perfect knowledge. Beyond that, every new employee leads to a reduction of productivity.

“Fewer people achieve more.” Charles Dunstone

“Creating and building a business when you are as young as possible is a huge advantage. You don’t challenge as much as you get older.” Charles Dunstone

“You need to be stubborn in believeing the objective that you set out.” Charles Dunstone

“Other people’s business are always easier to run than yours.” Charles Dunstone

“It is easier to work in a mature economy you understand than it is to parachute into a rapidly moving but foreign market.” Charles Dunstone

“The world is being taken over by engineers. The businesses that are struggling in my world in Nokia, in Microsoft, are not being successful because they don’t have the leaders with the knowledge to get people to do the right thing.” Charles Dunstone

“A lot of the promises of the dot com bubble are now coming true. A lot of the people who are making those changes happen are technologists and engineers not business people.” Charles Dunstone

Finishes with a great quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

BLN Growth Forum, 5th July 2011.


  • Making it big – targeting big markets and maintaining your lead.
  • Successful sales– making profitable sales a core goal. How to sell against market leaders.
  • Putting people first – creating a culture to attract and retain the people you need.
  • Growth strategies – maximising value from startup to IPO and beyond.


  • Jonathan Milner, Founder & CEO, Abcam
  • Warren East, CEO, ARM
  • Neil Gaydon, CEO, PACE plc
  • Stuart Miller, CEO, ByBox
  • Mo Bulbrook, Head of International, Cheapflights Media
  • Tim Weller, CEO, Incisive Media
  • Mary Turner, CEO, AlertMe
  • Martin Leuw, NED, IRIS Software Group
  • Mark Gerhard, CEO, Jagex Games Studio
  • Ariel Eckstein, Managing Director EMEA, LinkedIn
  • Peter Bauer, CEO, Mimecast
  • Nigel Payne, Director and Prev CEO, Sporting Bet plc
  • Andy Leaver, VP EMEA, Workday


For more information, the full agenda, all the stuff you need to know, and to reserve your place.