14 August 2015

I am often asked how I started out on this journey. The truth is simply with an idea, a telephone and a belief that I could make a difference in this world.
on the phone

I have mentioned many a time about how, in the early days, my wife Gail and I would eat porridge for a week because all of our money was being put into the business. At one stage we were like ships passing in the night – I would literally walk past Gail as I was on the way out of the office and she was on the way in. We manned the phones with a tiny team 24/7/365.

We had so many obstacles that could have stopped us in our tracks but we broke through them and carried on. We found a way over, around or through it.

I wrote yesterday about how not getting the academic results you’d hoped for isn’t the end of the journey; it’s not a barrier to a career, potentially it is the start of a new, greater one. I think that this translates into business too.

If my journey so far has taught me anything, it’s that what seems like an obstacle may in fact be a stepping stone.

In the very early days of UKFast, our product line was constantly evolving and changing until we hit an avenue that we knew we could really impact people’s lives in. Some things worked, somethings didn’t.

We’ve been a mobile phone company, created a bulk text messaging tool, and had many other arms to the business, but it was only when I tried to set up a website that I realised the need for great, people-focussed web hosting. The rest, as they say, is history.

Often, I hear that people want to set up a business but their barrier is that they don’t have the funds to do so. At a time when you are able to be flexible, responsive and to choose your own destiny as a business, why is it that some startups only see the barriers rather than the opportunities?

We managed to grow UKFast without outside funding, it wasn’t easy but we got past the barriers and turned them into opportunities – and we were incredibly smart with our cash.

If you can’t afford something, don’t borrow money to buy it unless it is completely essential. Do you need the awesome office space when you are just starting out, or can that wait until you’ve generated the cash for it? Do you need those ergonomic designer chairs or could a bean bag suffice in the interim? Making the right choices in those early days will create an extraordinary foundation for your business. As long as you have the basic tools to generate revenue and keep your business and passion for it alive.

In those early days, the main barrier is that people don’t know who you are. In every market there are the big boys who grab everyone’s attention. How do you get the attention of your target market? Pick up the phone and call them. Introduce yourself to people, demonstrate why you’re different and make an impact.

If you ask, ‘what advice I would give to you as a budding entrepreneur’ I will always say: “pick up the phone and get dialling!”.

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