I set my business up over the summer 10 years ago and started trading in September 2013. It was challenging to build momentum and the support of my family and friends was essential. I’ve tried to apply the things I’ve learnt through my life and career to shape and guide my journey.
10 Lessons from 10 Years of Running My Business
1.Work out what your currency is.
Making a difference and being appreciated is far more important than money to me.
2. Seek advice and expertise from others.
I’d like to thank Paul Kurzeja, Mark Stringer, James Kirkby and Jim Woodhead for their fabulous advice and input they have given me to establish and enable my business to grow.
3. Have a support network, family and friends.
It would have been impossible to have built my business without the incredible support and encouragement of my family. My brother, even though he lives in the USA, has always given me invaluable and sometimes blunt advice but always incredible support. I’ve met some great people in the Yorkshire business community and legal groups that have been fabulously supportive. Keep learning and asking questions, there are so many great people and resources available, build those relationships and ask.
4. Trust your gut and instincts and hold onto your values.
Many will tell you how you are supposed to run a business, and the things you must do. Although some of the advice is great, the essential thing is always to ask why (Simon Sinek: Why and take responsibility for your decisions and in the end always trust your gut. This song, by the wonderful Eric Bibb, sums up that attitude > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLjWKwCAjJs
5. Make sure you have breaks and fun.
Especially when you are starting off, it is hard to switch off and take time off. In the early years, I’d work while I was on holiday and arranged my life around my work, but I still made time to do things I enjoyed. I’ve found a balance that works for me, live music and swimming have been so important. Hope and Social have been an inspiration and chaotically keep me in touch with reality and what life can be. They’re also a great bunch of guys and have a wonderful community of fans. My swimming buddies be it in the river, Ilkley lido or my local pool have kept me moving, special shout outs to Julian Smith and Neil Raven.
6. Have a clear and transparent pricing policy.
My value is defined by my clients, so they decide what to pay me. I have my Pay Fair policy at the core of my business. It takes any issues about my fees out of the equation, and we can properly focus on working effectively together. 99+% pay me my suggested fee, some pay me more and I just donate the extra to Simon on the Streets. I’ve kept my suggested hourly rate at the same level for 10 years. I’m frequently told that I should increase my rates, but why? I make more than enough to comfortably get by and I’m very grateful to my clients.
7. Look after your clients and suppliers and they’ll look after you.
It’s not rocket science, but I make sure I pay my suppliers quickly usually on the same day. I celebrate with my clients on their successes and also commiserate at the times when they have not got the result they had hoped for. My Pay Fair policy enables me to donate 10% (to Simon on the Streets) of my fees from clients that are referred to me.
8. Do say please, thank you and sorry.
When I realise, I’ve made and, no doubt, I’ll continue to make mistakes, when I do then I quickly apologise. If I ask for something, a please is free, as is a thank you for a referral, social media share or payment.
9. Be Kind
As Tom Peters explains: Kindness is Free! Some of my most enjoyable work over the past 10 years has been mentoring business start-ups for free. I’ve worked with some great people and businesses and am still in touch with many of them. I give way advice on my website, via YouTube videos and more specific guidance by e-mail. As well as supporting Simon on the Streets, I donate to the fantastic Billable Hour and have a monthly direct debit via them to Save the Children.
10. Take Your Next Step
We’re on a journey but we won’t get anywhere until we take that next step, it may be in the wrong direction but you won’t get anywhere by standing still!
I’m looking forward to the future, to the people I’ll meet, the things I’ll learn and to enjoying the next stage of my journey.
THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE BEEN PART OF MY JOURNEY SO FAR.