2 March 2014

I have always been someone who enjoys chess. I’ve had some great battles with friends over the years, my favourites being on Necker Island with Damian Maldonado and Sir Richard Branson.

You can draw so many parallels with business and life in general. Anywhere there is competition and conflict, chess plays a part.

LJ-richard-branson-chessWith equal pieces, as a game unravels things dont stay equal for long. And depending on the skill of the player guiding the pieces across the board, you get very different outcomes.

Business is very similar. Yes you can argue that sectors play a part, however isn’t this part of the skill, choosing the sectors that grow and remain strong in troubled times? I think if you asked Warren Buffet his opinion on this, he is the worlds most successful investor for a reason and he choses his sectors and business partners very carefully.

When you are setting out in business, against all the odds, each move is crucial. Every decision is a doorway to another opportunity, but every wrong turn can be just as costly in the opposite direction.

So how does a small business stand a chance in todays modern world of commerce?

If you’d asked me 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have thought its possible, even 15 years ago when we started UKFast, only naivety stopped me from throwing in the towel before it had begun. Up against huge businesses with deep pockets and massive resources, all I saw was the need to create something better than anyone else was providing.

Nowadays I think its easier. I think the opportunities to target global brands and compete with huge high street retailers is very possible and its awesome to see so many young tech entrepreneurs taking advantage of the newness of social media and online marketing. You might argue that its now the BIG brands that struggle to grasp the new trends in time and a few have been hung out to dry. You will see more and more tech entrepreneurs making the headlines in the coming years.

If your goal in life is to simply make lots of money, I think you might struggle. Money doesn’t inspire. Yes its very useful and helps you do great things, but its the great things you need to focus on that get you out of bed in the morning.

I have met many people who had the sole ambition to make lots of money, but none of them end up successful. Yes, they may experience success for a while, but success is short lived if you lose your focus for a second.

Success is relative to the amount of passion you have for anything and everything in life. And if you consider to get good at anything you have to do it over and over again, unless you are passionate about what you do, you are bound to tire eventually. Have you ever noticed, someone in their zone, be it a golfer or footballer, any sportsman or business person, they love what they do.

If you want to get passionate about something, get disturbed. Get a bee in your bonnet. That’s what happened when we set up UKFast. We tried to register a domain name THEGALLERY.COM to host a business idea I’d had. The worst idea on the planet I hasten to add. A directory for artists and art, a community with very little money and little or no appetite to embrace technology!

Luckily for us, someone treated us really badly at the hosting company giving us the worst customer service imaginable. The owner of the business laughed at me when I told him he had inspired me into being a competitor.

Last time I saw him, he was in my boardroom asking for a job!

In every business and in every career there will be moments where you may plateau. What then? Well life is about competing, if you are bored its highly likely that you are not trying hard enough.

Coming back from my holidays in the Maldives this week, I watched the Steve Jobs movie on the plane and whilst I don’t find him an inspiring individual like I do Tony Robbins, you have to admire his achievements. I was looking at photos of our new office on my phone, and I had this incredible feeling. I needed to get back.

I am always inspired after a break, but this is different. I feel like we have been treading water and suddenly we are just getting traction. I am very proud of where we have got to and I am certainly humbled by the experiences I have had along the route, but all I could think about is the opportunities ahead. The feeling I have now in my stomach is even greater than the very first day 15 years ago. Sometimes it takes something to give you a jolt.

Often a break is all it needs, but the best jolts come from when you feel wronged, or you have a point to prove. When you get something that drives you deep down from the core, this is when it gets exciting.

Whatever it is that stimulates the emotion, remember it and remember that feeling inside. It’s the emotion that is going to get you up earlier, work harder, be more focussed and inspire you to motivate others to join you on your quest.

I often describe my career as on the first rung of the ladder, but really, for the first time ever, this last decade and beyond has been a massive lesson for the road ahead.

See you out there on the field.

LJ

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Every office should have a pond!

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View towards pond on Creative floor

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Tunnel into Creative Space

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View towards the bar on the Creative floor

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