31 August 2015

I believe anybody can pretty much do or achieve anything if you set your mind to it. But before embarking on a journey, there’s a word of caution I’d always offer before you make your first step.

“Just how much do you want it?”

“What exactly are you trying to achieve?”

Too many people venture into business to “make money” or “get rich quick” but its worth remembering that more people fail and it’s only a fraction that succeed. 10 years on, the statics of people still in business is frighteningly small!

So before you embark, why not increase your odds.

What I have learned is that people get blinded by their enthusiasm when they are planning their new business. Enthusiasm is essential, however so is the voice of reason. You have to find the right balance. Find someone who you can debate your big decisions with and avoid wasting time and money going in the wrong direction.

Everything starts from a single solitary thought

Everything starts from a single solitary thought

So if you can do anything, how do you chose your venture or adventure!

You have to choose something you love. That could be a personal passion, like music, or a skill like engineering or medicine.

I am fascinated by technology so it’s no surprise I have found myself up to my neck in servers, cloud and designing software. Even my love for music had to take a back seat for this one.

But I also love seeing people develop and in another world I’d have loved to have been a teacher and maybe when all this is over thats where I will end up, helping others discover their passions. So with the love of all things tech and a passion for people, building a cloud business with an enormous focus on customer service makes sense.

It also helps that I love competing, so I am in the right industry too where change is prevalent and uncertainty is one of the few constants.

So why is it so important to love what you do?

I didn’t realise how important this is, and yet years later with a few failed ventures under my belt, it becomes increasingly obvious. It was first pointed out by business writer and lecturer at Stanford University, Jim Collins. When as part of his 3  circle principal he explains the importance of being passionate about something.

Its easy to be motivated and excited about a project when everything is going well. But at some point, no matter how amazing your project or business is, its going to create some challenges. The bigger the success, the bigger the problems.

When you are faced with an issue that you have to address, if you don’t feel enormously passionate about your business or venture, its too easy to find something else that is “also a priority.” In other words, you end up putting it off.

There will always be elements of running a business that you won’t enjoy as much as others, and my advice is when you are small, muddle through them and as soon as you can, recruit to fill these gaps. They are essential and there will be other people out there who love doing the things you hate! So recruit them and free up you time.

But nothing will prepare you from those cataclysmic events that need your 100% attention and when you have to put your house on the line, or your savings, your pension, all of your time, all of your efforts, you will only truly be able to commit to all of the above if you genuinely love what you are doing and love what you are building.

In some recent events at UKFast where I am helping inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and professionals I explained that in the early years there was a time when I remember eating Weetabix for a month whilst my mortgage repayments stacked up and there just wasn’t the money to exist. I could have given up at this point, but it simply was not an option in the same way a parent never gives up when teaching a child to walk. We’d created something that we felt so passionately about, it had a life of its own. The people we work with, the clients, our key suppliers, they all unite us and make UKFast a living breathing complex organism that deserves our best attention and utmost care at all times.

To Infinity and Beyond

To Infinity and Beyond

I have dedicated my working life and a great deal of my family life (including this hour when my kids are running around Disney) to building UKFast and I will never give up on this journey. It’s the passion that keeps me going and keeps me excited, innovating, inventing and inspiring the next generation of computer whizz kids and business people of Britain.

So before you put your neck (and house) on the line, ask yourself if this is really what you want to do. Ask yourself if you are truly passionate about the journey.

If the answer is an unwavering “YES!” then do it. If you are unsure, keep looking.

It’s worth pointing out the whole “money” thing too. Don’t go into business to make money! It might sound stupid, but honestly you are much more likely to make more money getting a great job somewhere and being a part of a bigger team.

If you start a business and it goes well, then you will no doubt deserve the money you get, but this will take a long time to get yourself into a position where this is possible.

With UKFast, Gail and I got paid £11,000 between us for at least the first 3 or 4 years. That’s a whopping £5,500 each. Bear in mind I had 2 mortgages and after giving up a great job you can imagine how long all my saving lasted!

Being in business is not for everyone. You will ultimately know if its for you or not. But if its not, find yourself a team where you are valued and you are able to contribute and make a difference. The world would be a dull place if everyone was the same and great business leaders need great team players.

The Jones Family at Disney

The Jones Family at Disney

But whatever you chose to do, find out what you are passionate about and play at the highest level possible and keep pushing yourself at all times to learn and develop and you will undoubtedly have a happy and fulfilled life.

Right, I am back to Walt Disney’s theme Park. If you have any questions about my blog topic today, first ask yourself this one:
“Just how passionate was Walt Disney about what he created in his lifetime?”

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