2 August 2016

Lawrence Jones MBE UKFast Colombus quoteTaking risks at the start of our business was essential. If we were to break into an industry that was only just establishing itself but had some big international players, we would have to take advantage of every opportunity that presented itself.

My wife Gail and I both didn’t have any expertise in the world of tech when we first started out with UKFast. I believe that we are in the position that we are today because we were able to put our head above the parapet and work hard to learn from other people and businesses back in those early days. In fact, it’s something that we continue to do to this day.

The Columbus quote at the top of this blog is one of my favourites. It reminds me that to make it to where we want to be, we need to be able to step out of our comfort zone.

The journey may be tough and there may be diversions along the way but once you set sight on your destination, this is your motivation to keep going.

There have been so many occasions over the years where we have got it wrong, we’ve taken a risk and it hasn’t worked. But we learn from it, I learn from it, transforming a negative into a positive.

We reinvest 25% of our turnover into research and development and we work by the 80-20 rule (20% of work time dedicated to the team’s own personal projects) to enable the team to take a chance, to put their effort into something that could be revolutionary. Of course, not everything works out or leads to a new product, but when it does, it’s incredible. And these results come because we were willing to explore unchartered territories. I love that part of our business!

It would be fair to say that as business grows taking risks becomes trickier. On the one hand, you’ll have to take risks to move the business forwards and to ensure it stays relevant, particularly in a fast evolving industry like tech. On the other hand, I want my team to feel secure.

The reality is, in fact, that taking risks is now a bigger part of our business than ever. In my opinion, the freedom to take professional risks is one that all members of my team should have. We are a little different in that respect; we encourage ownership, entrepreneurialism and innovative thinking. The last thing I would want to do is to stifle my team with micromanagement.

It was Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds, who said that “if you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business”.

What do you think? Do all successful people take risks?

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