Brad Burton is 44 (Feb 2017) and was born in Salford, Manchester and was brought up by his mum Brenda after his father left the family home when he was very young.
During his school life Brad was the class clown and, in his own words, achieved nothing getting Es, Fs and Us in his GCSEs. Brad had one main interest at this time – computer games.
After school Brad joined a YTS (Youth Training Scheme) working on a computer support desk for a company in Salford and then he secured what was, at that time, his dream job working in a computer games shop in The Arndale Centre in Manchester. There he met a man who became a lifelong friend and fellow gamer Jason Dutton (now the managing director of 4Networking).
A spell working behind the bar at the famous Butlins holiday camp at Minehead in Somerset followed before an opportunity with Jason Dutton, who was now the editor of Computing Magazine in Macclesfield, came up. In spite of the fact Brad wasn’t a good writer he got the job and built his reputation as a games writer and reviewer and even took part in a television series.
Brad then lost his way. He mixed with the wrong crowd, upset some unsavoury people and this culminated in someone attempting to shoot him in 1995. Terrified by this experience, Brad fled to Somerset where he got a job and went on to meet a local girl whom he later married and they have three children and Brad’s son from a previous relationship.
Professionally Brad was not where he wanted to be. He was a shop manager for a time, had periods living on benefits and then found himself working in a marketing job he hated in London, eating unhealthily due to his manic commuter lifestyle. He was also in debt to the tune of £25,000.
One day he simply cracked and walked out. To earn some money he began delivering pizzas and thinking about ‘what’s next?”.
With his experience in business, he knew the hardest thing for the small business sector – which he saw as a vibrant, interesting and strong community – was to get business in the first place.
There were, at that time some networking groups for entrepreneurs to join but they fell into two main groups, described by Brad, as ‘the loony left with Chablis and vol au vents where people took ten minutes to say anything meaningful’ through to the ‘hard core right, American-based cult, where everyone has got to attend, has got to bring visitors.’
Brad recognised the latter system did work but was no fun – and the more social system could be interesting but was largely ineffective. He came up with a different and more disruptive concept of 4Networking – often referred to as 4N.
His vision was to provide a better way for small businesses to do business which involved community, support, fun, accountability and which was modern, colourful, outspoken, forward-thinking and internet ready.
That was ten years ago and 4N now has groups across the UK, with more than 5,000 events taking place annually. Members have a passport and can attend any group they wish, anywhere in the UK. Brad stepped away from the daily running of 4N after ten years and is now the founder.
Brad is also the author of four books: Get Off Your Arse; Get Off Your Arse Too; Life, Business Just Got Easier and Now What? (published in November 2016 and became Amazon’s number 1 bestseller for sales and marketing in December 2016).
He has also built a reputation as the UK’s Number One Motivational Speaker, speaking to business people throughout the UK and to teams in companies including Bentley, JCB and a keynote speaker at the national annual Business Show in London. He trains others to become masters of their own stories at his Bradcamp and has launched a new SpeakerSeeker service to showcase the best business speakers in the UK.
He’s a regular outspoken contributor in the written media, radio and television including appearances on BBC Radio 2 on the Jeremy Vine show, the Money Pit on Dave & many spots on BBC local radio, tv and in business magazines and media. In 2016, he was invited to become an Ambassador for Somerset – a true hero for his adopted county which he now calls home.