Shaper: Stephen Fear
Show aired on 27th September 2014
Stephen Fear DBA is an English entrepreneur, businessman, philanthropist and author with over 40 years international business experience. Today Fear has an established property empire and interests in a number of industries, including green technology, hotels, residential care and manufacturing.
Often referred to as ‘The Phonebox Millionaire’, Fear is also notable for being Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Library; a position formerly held by the late Dame Anita Roddick.
In July 2013, Fear was awarded an honorary degree from UWE Bristol for his continued service to Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship.
Bristol-born Fear first went into business at the age 15 after reading an article in the Financial Times that would affect the way industrial ovens were cleaned. He used a red phone-box on the council estate where he grew up and persuaded an American firm to send him its product for him to sell in the UK.
Before he knew it, he was trading with a number or large industrial companies under the brand ‘Easy Clean’. Four years later, Fear sold his first business for £100,000 and invested the money in property.
Now at the age of 59, he is Chairman and Founder of Fear Group, an international organisation he runs with his Son, Leon Fear. Fear Group has interests in multiple markets and sectors ranging from green technology, hotels, residential care and manufacturing, spanning the UK, Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.
Fear combines a successful business career with his philanthropic interests. He is currently Patron of Heropreneurs, which supports and advises Armed Services personnel and their spouses who want to set up their own businesses after leaving the armed forces.
In addition, Fear is a recognised author and regular contributor to a number of UK and international media including Business Matters, The Huffington Post, Urban Times, is4profit and London Loves Business. Fear is regularly featured by the national media including the Financial Times, The Independent, The Daily Express, Sunday Times and Daily Mail commenting on a range of business, social and political issues.
In June 2013, Fear was asked to be a judge at the prestigious London Loves Excellence Awards along with Tim Campbell, Karren Brady and Chief Executive of International Airlines Group, Willie Walsh. Following this event, Fear will also be a judge at the London Loves Talent Awards in November 2013.
Fear frequently speaks at a number of corporate events and dinners and in the past has given talks at the British Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum. In November 2012, Fear spoke at an inaugural talk for Heropreneurs in central London with General Sir David Richards head of the Combined British Armed Forces. In 2013, Fear also took part in a panel debate as part of Prime’s Enterprise for Over 50s with Esther Rantzen.
On 24th July 2013, during a ceremony at Bristol Cathedral, Fear was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Business Administration DBA from the University of the West of England for his continued services to entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship over the past 40 years.
In early 2013, Fear announced he would be presenting a quarterly book review video series. As part of this series, Fear selects a number of business related publications on a specific subject that he sees as insightful and beneficial to business people. In addition to this, Fear launched an influential blog titled Fear on Food. Written by Stephen and Leon Fear the blog provides insightful advice and tips for international business lunches including tailored advice for the business traveller such as mobile phone signal strength, WIFI usage and the ability to charge portable devices.
The first business I ever had was a Café when I was 12 or 13. I took over a derelict shop which I purloined into a café to make coffees and sandwiches.
I was a serial entrepreneur from the age of 12 through to 15.
The only time I was ever really calm was if I was reading. I’ll read a matchbox if I have to!
I sold my first business for £100,000 from a red telephone box.
I built the business from nothing. It worked. It did what it said on the tin, and that’s an important thing for entrepreneurs to remember.
My advice to young entrepreneurs, is to keep your overheads low, one mistake entrepreneurs generally make is to take on too many overheads. It’s cheaper to work from Starbucks on your laptop.
Confidence and self-esteem are so important, particularly for young people.
We need to develop a proper entrepreneurial culture and I think we need to do that from a young age, so that it’s part of the fabric and DNA of the country.