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From Practitioner to Entrepreneur: Mark Holyoake Interviews AOP Founder Philip Ideson

By May 26, 2024No Comments

“At the end of the day, we exist to try and help the procurement profession be more impactful. That’s the lens through which we look at everything.”Philip Ideson, Founder and Managing Director of Art of Procurement

Anyone who has started their own business or embarked on their own entrepreneurial journey knows it isn’t an easy path. Rewarding? Yes. Fulfilling? Hopefully. Challenging? Most certainly. But easy? Never. 

As with most difficult things worth doing, however, they’re usually just learning opportunities in disguise. That’s one reason why I decided to celebrate Art of Procurement’s 700th podcast episode by doing something that’s a bit out of my comfort zone. I’m usually the one asking the questions, so I decided to put myself in the hot seat and invited my friend and fellow procurement entrepreneur Mark Holyoake, Founder and Managing Director of Holyoake Search, to turn the tables for a change and interview me. 

We were fortunate enough to arrange a face-to-face sit-down and Mark is a seasoned interviewer in his own right. He asked me about my professional journey from practitioner to entrepreneur and how I’ve seen the industry change along with my career. 

While you can listen to the entire conversation, I wanted to share a few takeaways that I think might be helpful for other aspiring procurement entrepreneurs based on some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years and, in the process of standing up our consultancy arm of the business, SpendPros.

Build Resilience

As I told Mark, if I didn’t have resilience while launching and growing Art of Procurement, I could have been derailed at so many different points. Like when I earned just $5,000 in year three despite projecting millions in revenue. That stung. 

If my years in the procurement trenches had taught me anything, it’s that sometimes you just have to put your head down and keep going, despite the challenges. The pivots, the rejections, the unexpected disasters, the mediocre sales years – they’re going to come. The key is how you bounce back from those moments and turn them into opportunities for learning or growth or, hopefully, both.

“No Jerks” 

This is a core value at Art of Procurement: “No Jerks.” It guides our approach to external clients or partners as well as our own internal value system and team building efforts. We want to leave a positive mark on every project and every collaboration we participate in, and we want to work with partners who value and respect us as much as we value them. 

When you develop a core value that defines how you work and serves as a guiding principle for you as an entrepreneur, for your business and brand, and for your team, it makes a big difference in how you approach client relationships and how you think about supporting and developing them. 

I’d encourage every entrepreneur to give thoughtful consideration to their core values, and then make sure that those are reflected and lived out by your team as well. 

Scarcity Leads to Isolation 

We want to elevate this profession that we all love and help everyone in procurement to be more impactful, and to do that means embracing everyone in the industry, competitors included. I’ve always believed that there is enough room, opportunity, and opportunity for success in this space for everyone. Being a good leader in any space requires an understanding of how to support, empower, and give visibility and opportunity to others. As an entrepreneur, when your mission is to be in service of others – of your team, the profession, your clients and partners – it’s easy to spread that message across the industry and be that rising tide that lifts all ships. 

As we prepare to move AOP into its second decade, taking a moment to reflect on what’s gotten us here, the challenges we’ve had to overcome, and the support we’ve had along this journey has been a valuable, and heartwarming, pit stop along our path toward 10X-ing the impact of procurement and building a stronger, more informed and empowered, and more tightly connected community.

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