It struck me a few days ago that Be World Class is 10 years old this month!
As you might expect, I got all nostalgic and started trying to look back over the last 10 years. And, of course, my mind did that weird thing where it couldn’t decide whether 10 years felt like five minutes or a lifetime. It’s a bit like when kids hit those milestone birthdays. In some ways it feels like no time at all and yet I struggle to remember what life was like without them.
Then I started looking back at how the business has changed over the years. The truth is, sometimes I am so focused on where we are right now (and where we’re headed) I often forget where we’ve come from and what it took to get here.
Ten years ago, most of my work was with small businesses. I was earning a few hundred pounds a time. To help find new customers I did a little unpaid speaking work and wrote magazine articles (again, unpaid). I put a huge amount of effort getting myself onto people’s radar. I can remember writing lots of letters and emails to people, offering my services, and got very little response. I went through marketing plan after marketing plan. The recession was starting to bite at the time and it felt like I was running into a headwind. But gradually, momentum started to build.
In all honesty, it probably shouldn’t have taken this long to get where we are. I certainly haven’t taken the direct route! I’ve been down so many dead-ends, chased so many wild geese and expended far more energy than necessary. Like many people, I fell into the trap of “diversifying” because I didn’t trust the sources of income I had. So, I’d kick off new projects in a desperate attempt to get the money flowing. At one point, I completely lost sight of what was important and went off chasing the dollar… convinced that I’d found the path to making my millions. What I’d actually discovered was a whole world of pain!!
Around eight years ago, we hit rock bottom.
We were almost bankrupt. I was staring at our last £10 in the world, with two young children to feed and no idea of how to feed them. They say you learn your greatest lessons from your biggest falls. In my case, that’s probably true. Although it was painful, it’s probably the single most valuable experience in my business life. It was my wife that pointed out the glaringly obvious to me. She reminded me to follow my passion!
Fast forward on eight years and, today, we’re doing alright. Most of our clients are multi-national corporations or elite sports organisations. I now speak to hundreds of people at Conferences and events; and get pretty well paid for doing it! People even buy the books that I’ve written. As a result, work tends to find me. It all looks very different from when we kicked off 10 years ago.
Lots of people describe their business as “their baby”. Of course, there are lots of parallels. Here are a couple that resonate with me…
Parents don’t really notice their kids growing up, because they see them every day. It’s almost impossible to see the tiny day-to-day changes. As parents, all we notice is that they grow out of clothes or need new shoes. It’s a similar experience growing a business. It’s easy to look passed the day-to-day and forget that your business is actually the culmination of every single challenge, decision, lesson and action you’ve taken.
There is no parenting manual. There is no blueprint. And, although there are tonnes of well-meaning people ready to offer you advice, no-one has brought up your kids. No-one knows them like you do. I see the same in business. The simple truth, in both parenting and business, is that you just have to do your best, learn as much as you can and figure it out as you go!
Have a great week!