23 April 2014

Why do so many people shut down their business at around ten years? Is it because they’ve lost the passion for it or become disillusioned? How do you stay engaged and keep growing?

If I look back even five years ago, we were tiny in comparison to what we are now and the same will happen five years from now. So what keeps us on track? Apart from setting these huge goals, the things that drive us (making a difference on people’s lives and helping people to grow and accomplish, which is our ultimate goal) it’s about taking lots of small steps. It’s almost like climbing a big mountain; you can’t get to the top with just a few short strides. I think the need for instant gratification can be a big distraction as you have to focus on the here and now.

Part of becoming a good leader is passing responsibility to others so that you can look at the bigger picture. You also have to remember you were in the same position as they were, so allow a tolerance level for people to find their feet and make mistakes as they take on more responsibility. Show them the way. Often, when you do this, people won’t let you down. In my experience, that’s how you get from a small business to a medium sized one.

Learning from the best

Learning from the best

Now I find myself going around the world, learning from really big business people and entrepreneurs who have achieved much more success than we have, and asking the right questions – learning from how they did things. It’s what I did when I wanted to know how to manage a company that was fast approaching 200 people. I sought out the opinion of Richard Branson, who had experienced the problem I presented him with and advised me on how he got around it. I think we’ll get to that re-evaluating stage again as we grow to around a thousand people and, to be honest, I’m already looking forward to that point and questioning how to deal with it in the right way.

Ultimately, I think that part of being a good leader is taking a modular approach and never giving somebody too much at once. Share out that responsibility and don’t overload people. You can keep an eye on the top of the mountain but they should be focussing on each step they take – each small but absolutely significant achievement that’s being made.

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