I spent an afternoon in Ancoats this week and met some wonderful, inspiring young people. They were all in the initial stages of new business ventures, supported by The Prince’s Trust. As the Trust did so much for me when I started out, I wanted to help by sharing some insights from my journey.
For my presentation, I produced a list of ten things I wish I had known on day one of my business journey in 2005. That was a relatively easy list to compile. After all, being in business is one of the quickest ways to learn lessons and I definitely made a few mistakes when I started out and still make them now 18 years later.
Hopefully, I managed to keep things balanced. Today Team is a success now, but its origins were humble, and it can be very tough, especially when you’re first starting out. You can work ridiculous hours and hit a lot of roadblocks. Even with the best intentions, you won’t get everything right. People might let you down. Those who promised to buy from you may suddenly disappear. But if you stick at it, you should start to have breakthroughs. Your small wins should become more frequent. You should start to establish yourself, and eventually have a business of which you can be justly proud.
But here’s another thing to think about: even if you work your socks off, and do everything right, there are no guarantees.
Some business owners will tell you otherwise (usually the ones selling online courses) Some even go as far as to say that if you want it bad enough, it’s going to happen. Well, I wanted a professional rugby career, like that of my hero Gary Connolly. Things were going well, but a knee injury I originally sustained when I was twelve recurred, recurred again and, despite surgery, finally ended my playing career when I was twenty-four. And believe me, I really wanted that career, and really worked for it.
One set of plans were in tatters, but I didn’t sit around moping. The years of dedication to my sport, to physical graft, teamwork, and to delivering the best performance I could, had instilled values in me that I could carry over into an entirely different field.
I had the advice and support of The Prince’s Trust. That’s teamwork.
I drove 80, 000 miles in my first year. That was some graft.
I didn’t let my customers down. I gave them my best. Every time.
I’ve kept to these values throughout my life and have built a business underpinned by them. At Today Team we work hard. We solve problems, do our best to exceed expectations and help team members gain valuable skills and have a culture that is friendly, professional and supportive. If I wasn’t in the business of time critical deliveries, I would be promoting these values and principles in another venture. They are what makes me, me.
I wish the young entrepreneurs I spoke to this week all the very best for their new ventures. I’m sure they will do well, but if they run into problems, they should trust that their values will get them through. They may not continue on the same path they originally planned. But maybe it will be an even better one. As Winston Churchill once said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Jamie Boyd – Managing Director, Today Team