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Riding the waves of uncertainty

Written by Ed Reeves on Thursday, 02 July 2020. Posted in Insight, Analysis, Start-up Diaries

Co-founder of Moneypenny, Ed Reeves, talks about his journey to success, as well as what to do and what to avoid.

Riding the waves of uncertainty

Co-founder of Moneypenny, Ed Reeves, talks about his journey to success, as well as what to do and what to avoid.

There are no regrets in life. Just lessons learned, some harsher than others.

After graduating from college, I decided to pursue my first love of windsurfing. This turned out to be an amazing period of my life, although not particularly lucrative.

I quickly discovered that I could turn my passion into a business. A surf school and a couple of shops soon followed.

This was my first foray into the world of entrepreneurship, where I learned some of the most valuable lessons, many of which continue to shape my life today.

Of course, it would have been nice to have a mentor to guide me every now and then.

But I was pretty headstrong, so there was a good chance I would have ignored much of what they said anyway.

That said, there are definitely some lessons which don’t need to be learned the hard way.

So these are the things I wish someone had told me when I first started out on my journey as an entrepreneur:

Short is sweet

Can you sum up your business in a few seconds? If the answer is ‘No’, then stop what you’re doing and get this nailed down.

You must be able to describe your business in one short, but sweet, sentence. This really is a must before you go any further.

Many of the best ideas fail due to poor messaging and delivery, so it’s crucial to get it right.

That’s not to say you should write off an entire promising idea if you can’t achieve this task at the first attempt.

Put your mind to it and think of something which will attract attention within a few seconds. Get your campaign off to a strong start.

Challenge the norm

When you’re told you can’t do something, challenge it. And then challenge it again.

Remember, you can’t innovate without breaking a mould or two. Don’t accept ‘no’ for an answer and you’ll invariably find that the word ‘can’t’ leads to an opportunity.

Each objection that you overcome is a giant leap forward. And it’s these leaps that will define your business.

Has anyone noticed, but during the current global crisis those with an entrepreneurial spirit are flourishing, while the rest of the business world remains stunned.

Don’t be constrained by what you have always done. Get creative and think about what your customers really need.

For example, we launched a brand new service for our clients. From now on, our personal assistants will relieve some of the pressure on our clients by performing outbound calls on their behalf, which will help them to scale up and down more easily.

We also invented a new Bot to provide estate agents, their clients and vendors, with peace of mind, confirming that all parties are free from Covid-19 symptoms, before a physical viewing takes place.

Sometimes rule books were made for ripping up.

Arrogance is sometimes good

No matter what the little devil sitting on your shoulder may occasionally whisper in your ear, remember that you are the best person in the world to lead your business.

If you don’t truly believe in yourself, no-one else will. Would you, for instance, hire an accountant who couldn’t guarantee he’d be able to finish your books on time? I doubt it.

There’s nothing more disconcerting than a leader who doesn’t believe in him or herself.

So, give yourself regular pep talks. It is this conviction which will win you clients and help your business succeed.

Ignore mum and dad

Do not, under any circumstance, ask your family and friends about business ideas.

With the best will in the world, they’re not objective. What you need is unfiltered, honest feedback and you’ll only get this from people who don’t know you.

Then, when someone tells you that they think you have a great idea, ask them if they would like to invest in your business – even if you don’t want them to.

Suddenly, their nice smiles and kind words become real, and you’ll learn a whole lot more about what they really think.

Forget income, profit is everything

When it comes to business viability, profit is everything. Start by working out how much you need to earn and work backwards.

Never, ever, operate the other way around. Otherwise, it’s a one-way ticket to failure.

I’ve talked to countless fellow entrepreneurs who were worried that doubling their margin would result in losing half of their clients.

Seldom is this the case, and seldom do people willingly select the cheapest option.

Diners at a Michelin-starred restaurant won’t mind waiting a little longer for their food to arrive. In fact, they’ll even pay more for their meal.

The hardest business to develop is a low margin one. So save this until you’ve cut your teeth on some profit.

Develop a nose for identifying talent

Good people are everything. As an entrepreneur, one of the best business decisions I ever made was delegating tasks I couldn’t do – or didn’t enjoy – to people who are experts in their own fields.

It’s the oldest lesson in the book, but sometimes the first one people get wrong.

Talent spotting is a skill in its own right and is something that every entrepreneur should seek to develop.

Surrounding yourself with brilliant people will be the key to your success.  

Learn to surf

Starting a business is like learning to surf. You’ll begin by standing at the water’s edge, looking apprehensively at the huge expanse of ocean stretching out in front of you.

Once in the water, you’ll paddle like mad to get through the shore break but be knocked back endlessly.

Everyone will tell you to catch the small waves, but you’ll want to go for the biggest.

However, the smart surfers are the ones that conserve their energy to ride fewer waves, choosing carefully and riding them brilliantly.

And once you’ve ridden one well, you’ll keep going back for more.

About the Author

Ed Reeves

Ed Reeves

As co-founder and director of Moneypenny, one of the fastest growing technology businesses of their type, handling 15 million calls and chats annually on behalf of 13,000 businesses. He was a competitive windsurfer, marketeer and graphic designer before launching Moneypenny in 2000.

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