HAMPSHIRE businesses gathered to hear a wealth of knowledge and entrepreneurial tales at the fifth annual Solent Business Growth Summit.

Held at the Ageas Bowl’s Hilton Hotel, near Southampton, on October 9, acclaimed co-founder of the Green & Black’s chocolate brand, Jo Fairley shared her pearls of wisdom with business leaders.

In her speech she told the audience that they need to apply both a microscope and a telescope to their businesses in order to succeed.

She said: “I’m completely self-taught. I’ve got six O levels and have had to learn as I’ve gone along. I have read countless business magazines, loads of business books and I just try and take away one nugget from each of them.

“The most important lesson I learned was from US businesswoman Martha Stewart who pointed out that you need the microscope to get the detail right and the telescope to be able to stand back and look at things from afar.

“Basically that’s what I think events like today are for – it is an amazing opportunity to stand back from the fire-fighting and enjoy a brief window of telescope time. I have always found it completely invaluable to just step away and think about what you can do differently."

The summit was also addressed by Anne-Marie Mountifield, chief executive of business support organisation the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, who gave an overview of the region’s economy.

She said there were signs of positive growth, particularly in activity driven by ports, but there were also challenges ahead in terms of infrastructure, transport, congestion, productivity and fibre technology.

Speaking about the event Gwyn Price, Santander Corporate and Commercial Bank’s regional director for the South East and Solent region said: “I think some of the key takeaways for me from an event like this are the sharing of knowledge and experience.

“As Jo mentioned, it’s about taking that telescope view, stepping back in your business and really understanding it.”

A draw to win a business mentoring session in London with Jo Fairley raised £500 for Naomi House and Jacksplace.