6 October 2019
Being in business is a constant learning curve. It is that simple. Just when you think you’re getting to grips with the latest phase of your business, you face a different challenge or, if you’re lucky, the business levels up.
At each stage it is all too easy to feel lost, out of your depth. I wonder, perhaps, that if you don’t feel out of your depth from time to time, you’re not pushing yourself far enough, setting your goals high enough. Either way, the single most important thing is to look to those who are further in the journey than you for advice. When you seek advice from others, you’re able to circumnavigate some of the pitfalls; you learn from their mistakes.
For today’s post, I want to share some of the lessons that I have learned in 30 years of business:
When I say that business is learning curve, I am not being flippant. At every new stage of UKFast, I have learned an entirely new set of skills, and continue to learn every day. I learned a few years ago that the greatest motivator isn’t in fact money, it is personal development. We’ve seen this first hand at UKFast with our investment into training and education. With development options for every area of the business, it is clear to see how much energy and drive is generated when you enable people to grow. When your team is evolving, it is only natural that you do too. I can’t think of anything greater as a leader than helping your future replacements to develop and having them snapping at your heels!
A failure isn’t a failure…
…Unless you give up. The very nature of being an entrepreneur is being able to accept making mistakes. Of course, that doesn’t mean making mistakes that could destroy your business, but if you don’t make mistakes, you are staying within your comfort zone and no one ever grows within their comfort zone.
So when the inevitable mistakes happen, do you give up? Do you throw the towel in? No! You pick yourself back up and carry on. Even if that means going back to the beginning, but always learn from whatever went wrong.
Take it on the chin
Your job as a leader is to step up to the plate. If something goes wrong, if you make a mistake, hold up your hands and take it on the chin. Equally, when something goes right, you recognise and reward those who made it happen, rather than taking the praise for yourself.
I know that UKFast has not continued to grow over the past two decades because of me personally. UKFast is a pastiche of every single person who has touched the business in one way or another.
This quality of being able to take the bad with the good, and sharing the praise with others is not an easy thing to nurture, yet it is one of the essential traits of being a leader.
I have met some of the most extraordinary leaders on the planet and the single common trait is that they are humble. They are the people at the back of the room watching everyone else thriving in the spotlight. They are the people who pass on praise and their teams thank them for it. Sir Alex Ferguson is a prime example – look what he achieved with the United team by being a fair leader who kept criticism behind closed doors while celebrating his team publicly.
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket
By this, I mean don’t rely on one single mentor. I have never had a mentor; it wasn’t as popular a concept when I started out in business as it is now. Thankfully, now there is significantly more access to mentoring programmes (Trish at Tech Manchester is a great example!). However, I would always advise not to rely on one mentor alone.
I have always sought at anyone who is at the top of their game, no matter what that game is. You can always learn from incredible people and transfer those learnings into your own business.
In seeking out these people, I’ve learned from the likes of Sir Richard Branson and Sir Alex Ferguson, and numerous Prime Ministers. Whilst there are many things that I have learned and put to good use from each of these people, you can never agree with one person on everything. When you learn from a plethora of people, you’re able to blend opinions and lessons to find out what works for you.
I share more on these topics in tomorrow’s podcast. Subscribe to be one of the first to receive each episode every Monday, and let me know what you think for any topics you’d like us to cover in future recordings.