‘Be naive to be successful’, Freeserve founder says

Business people must be “naive”, in order to make the most of their ideas, the co-founder of Freeserve has said.

Speaking at the Leeds Enterprise Network Event, Ajaz Ahmed said the ability to think without limits is vital to success.

The Finance Yorkshire-sponsored event, hosted by Leeds Beckett University in conjunction with Leeds City College and Leeds College of Music, brought together people from the business community and students at Leeds Beckett University’s Old Broadcasting House.

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Mr Ahmed, who launched one of the UK’s most successful internet service providers (ISPs) in 1998, said: “Some of the big internet companies were very, very naive when they started, because they didn’t constrain themselves.

“If you want to be successful, you’ve got to be naive.”

However, he stressed that people must realise “no-one cares about you” when it comes to business. “You’ve got to learn to really care about yourself and not rely on other people,” he said.

Doing the obvious “before it becomes obvious to everyone else” is one of the key things that separates an entrepreneur from a business person, he added.

The event also announced the winner of the Vice Chancellors Enterprise Scholarship. Natalie Hall, who recently launched Poppies Bakehouse in Sheffield, was recognised alongside other Enterprise Award winners on the night.

Leeds Enterprise Network hosts quarterly speaker events that are free to attend.