9 March 2014
I often wonder why I do what I do and what makes us tick.
I set up UKFast with the aim to make £1 million and then go back and write music for a living. Somewhere down the line it got personal. I have lost count to the number of offers and opportunities that have presented themselves over the years, yet I am still here raring to go.
I suppose if it were dull, then that’s the time to change direction, but in a world where every day there’s a new challenge, there’s a renewed spirit and spring in my step to rise to the challenge of the exciting road ahead.
You’d think it would be the other way around, that the frustrations and the ups and downs of dealing with competitors would make a change in direction more palatable, but it’s that bad taste in your mouth that makes it personal.
Being the underdog helps too. Warren Avis (Avis Car Hire) said “Because we are number 2 we try harder.” I empathise with this. We’ve never had the privilege of being the market leader (yet!) However, if you’re not on the number one spot, don’t let this discourage you. It’s your job to lead the market with innovations always looking to raise the bar and introduce new improved ways of doing things. If you are doing your job right, you will find yourself being copied at every turn. Don’t get frustrated by this; be flattered and just use that feeling inside to create even better strategies. It’s when you are not being copied you want to start worrying!
The marketing director of one of my competitors once said to me, “I love having you in my marketing department Lawrence, keep it up!”
It’s good to get a wake up call every now and then. It’s easy to start existing and going from day to day, yet the real growth comes from those who dig deep during times of adversity. If you want to achieve anything of note, it’s going to require a great deal of effort. To become an expert at anything you have to invest huge amounts of time. Tony Robbins coins the phrase “repetition is the mother of all skill.” Which means you have to do things over and over again to get good at something. I am a firm believer in this.
The same thing applies in business. If I’d been presented with the responsibilities I have now, a decade ago, I’d have got a nosebleed and fallen flat on my face. But nature has a funny way of preparing you for life’s precarious moments. By growing slowly but surely, you are able to acclimatise and pick up the lessons on route.
Now looking back 10 years, if only I knew then what I know now! Wow, how much easier things would have been. But then, that’s the fun. Plus it’s relative, I know I have still a huge way to go and whilst I am learning the responsibilities and techniques of running a much bigger business, I am sure I will reflect on this point many years in the future, with the same irony.
A decade on, it’s incredible to see the difference in UKFast and all the founders. We were just a few people back then, trying our hardest to make an impact on a relatively new industry.
If I’d focussed on being in the position we are in now, I think we’d have probably failed. Any journey you embark on is made up of many small steps. One of my goals is to climb Everest one day, but to tackle a challenge such as this you have to break it down into smaller ones and take your time. Rush it, or underestimate the climb ahead and you will fail.
It’s important to set big goals, but its even more important to remember that it’s the basics that you do every day that are going to set you out from your competition.
Small improvements often, repeated over and over again mount up. Warren Buffet said something along the lines that “Some things just take time. You can’t have a baby in a month by getting nine women pregnant.”
Patience is key. You are not going to win all the fights that are ahead of you. However, it’s essential if you want to be successful that you compete every time as if it were your last. No matter how many times you win or lose, you pick yourself up and you go again.
Good things are worth waiting for, but nothing arrives handed on a plate, you have to get out there and look for the differences you can make.
Don’t try and cheat the system, don’t exaggerate in your marketing, don’t promise something that you can’t deliver and if you say you are going to do something, follow through and never deviate.
These are the basics in any game, be it sport, business or life in general. They are all equally important as they all provide life’s lessons, which ultimately shape us.
If you do find yourself doing well, before you start patting yourself on the back and congratulating yourself on a job well done, remember that it’s not over, far from it, and you have a great deal of work still to do. Remember where you are on the overall journey. If you think you have arrived at the final destination, call an undertaker!
I have a simple formula that works well for me.
Firstly, EVALUATE. Look over what you could have done better. Even the greatest of wins holds keys to future victories. Try to do this early in the morning too when your brain is at its most agile.
Secondly, RECALIBRATE. Look for your new target, your new expedition, a goal so high that you’d get vertigo just thinking about it.
Thirdly, FORGET YOUR GOALS. Take your team and go and celebrate. There is a big day in the morning but meanwhile you have people you need to thank and refocus.
These 3 things may sound simple, but it’s the order in which they are done that makes them effective. No celebration should get in the way of an early start and no victory should ever be big enough to break your winning formula.
You do not want to wake up in the morning directionless. You want to remind your troops of the new fight during the celebrations of the night before.
And whatever you are doing, enjoy the experience.