I’m a trader and, over the last ten years, I’ve built a business that teaches people to make money trading. It’s a great niche to be in right now. Given the state of the economy and the challenges presented by regulation and red tape, it’s pretty dis-incentivising to become an entrepreneur. Conversely, becoming a private trader has become a lot more mainstream. But there’s also a real focus on doing good while doing business, mostly because of all the financial fall-out over the last few years. And it’s a trend I’ve been keen to follow.
A great example of a company that’s got the whole ‘doing good while doing business’ thing down is US-based biscuit company Nabisco. Last year, Nabisco wanted to do a tie-up with the World Wildlife Fund. It had made $69m in profit on its Animal Cracker brand the previous year, so it said, anything we do on top of that, we’ll donate 50 cents in the dollar to the WWF. They changed the animals on the biscuits to the five most endangered animals, and sales began to roll in. Nabisco made $128m. So the charity made an extra £30m, and the business did too. Unsurprisingly, Nabisco kept that deal going.
So this gave me the idea to do something similar. I’ve launched a campaign whereby, for one day a month, I place my trade calls on a website for free. Customers that want to place those trades are recommended certain brokers, and those brokers donate their commission to the charity Barnados. I publish my trade calls while hovering above Canary Wharf in a helicopter – I’m now known as the Flying Trader. I’ve done four flights so far this year and we’ve raised over £160,000. The great thing is: it hasn’t cost clients any more to trade; the broker doesn’t mind giving up commission for one trading day because they’re getting a new client for free; and we’re happy because, the more clients trade, the more active they become and the more likely they are to buy something from us – trading training or tools.
Another entrepreneur you may have heard of who’s pushing this ‘doing good while doing business’ idea is Richard Branson. He’s got a new book out called ‘Screw Business as Usual’ and is actively trying to create a new model for capitalism. I was invited to Ulusaba, his private ranch in South Africa, a few weeks back to talk to him and a group of other business leaders about all this. It was an amazing experience. But my most striking memory is of eating dinner out under the stars and a lightening storm coming out of nowhere. We were all drenched and fled into the house. Richard took his shirt off and spent the rest of the evening running around half naked. And let me tell you, that man is fit. It’s all the kite-surfing or whatever it’s called.
If you'd told me back in 2003 when I started the business that one day I'd be admiring Branson's biceps at close range, I'd never have believed you. But that's why I love being a trader and an entrepreneur: it's the unpredictability...