10 Things I Wish I’d Learned Sooner

November 21, 2023

As we mark the milestone of 10 years in business, we asked our Founder and CEO, Tim Roedel, to reflect back on the last decade, and look specifically at lessons learned along the way:

  1. Poor communication will destroy your business very quickly 

As a leader and business owner, your communication both internally and externally has to be clear, consistent, and timely. Internally, clarity in conveying expectations and goals fosters a positive work environment and provides purpose – but it must be grounded on a vision that is shared across the entire business. Externally, clients, suppliers, and stakeholders rely on your ability to articulate information clearly and promptly, building (and then maintaining) trust and a positive reputation. In any business landscape, the precision and timeliness of your communication can be the decisive factor between success and failure, so making time to hone this skill is vital from the get-go.

  1. Have the right people, doing the right things

This may seem obvious but when you’re in the thick of running a business it often gets overlooked. Identifying and leveraging the unique strengths, skills, and expertise of each team member is essential for maximising productivity and achieving optimal results. Of course, that only starts with a good understanding of individual capabilities and the strategic alignment of roles with the key business objectives. Continually assessing what both are critical, and being prepared to flex, change things about, and refocus is also vital – especially in a decade that has seen a global pandemic, cost-of-living-crisis, and political instability – amongst other challenges.

I’ve also learned over the years that Pareto’s law was right. Managing a business means you have limited time; spend as much of it on the 20% of people that really WANT to work with you driving towards your vision. And accept that inevitably, not everyone does.

  1. Have self-awareness (or develop it quickly) 

You must know what your strengths are, and you must hire people (the best possible you can afford even) to do those things that you are not good at. Knowing (and accepting) your limitations is good for personal growth and even more so for strategic decision-making, meaning you end up with a dynamic, well-rounded, and high-performing team around you. On a similar note, do you not feel that you must know everything. Nobody knows everything, and it is OK to simply say “I don’t know, but I will find out”. In short – don’t be afraid of demonstrating humility.

  1. Listen

In meetings particularly, be the last to speak. You will often find your team will get to the position you hope they will without your input. You must allow your team the space to grow and if you dominate the conversation they will not be learning – or indeed, contributing invaluable insights, ideas, and feedback to make your business and services better than they were yesterday. Success is not a solo act – it is a collaborative effort, and fostering a culture of open dialogue where everyone has a voice (and is heard!) is incredibly important.

  1. You must say no

Once you have decided on your vision, doing anything that is not actively driving the business towards that is wasting time, effort, and resources – and runs the risk of completely setting you off-course. Saying ‘no’ shouldn’t be seen as negative. It’s about staying true to your goals and objectives and maintaining an unwavering focus on what matters.

  1. Never stop engaging with clients

As the business owner and CEO, YOU are ultimately the face of the business and without doubt, the best-placed person to sell your services and value to your clients – and that remains true as your business grows and you have a dedicated function to focus on this also. On the flip side, it’s essential to engage with clients directly about their current challenges, changing needs and preferences so that you can bring tangible insight back into the business and adjust if needed.

  1. Understand what good looks like – in every part of your business

Understanding what good, or better, ‘great’ looks like across every part of your business is paramount. As a leader, it’s essential to first articulate a clear vision of what good looks like, setting clear expectations, and aligning everyone with the same goals. The saying ‘what gets measured, gets managed’ is key here  – it’s not enough to merely set objectives and establish standards; true progress requires a commitment to measurement and monitoring to truly gauge the success of strategies, identify areas for improvement, and make informed, data-driven decisions.

  1. Embrace technology (but not without buy-in and a robust integration plan)

As consumers, the technological advances we have seen over the last decade have been astounding. The same can be said for tech we see within the eCommerce sector that we service, and also operationally speaking as a recruitment business. I have never been afraid of investing in market-leading platforms or systems that enhance how we operate – but it is a non-negotiable to introduce anything without a robust implementation and integration plan, and the buy-in of the user base – namely, our Consultants and Operations teams. Employee acceptance and engagement are integral to success – and without this, you are wasting your time (and investment).

  1. When it’s just you at the top – find support

Building a successful, high-performing team is undeniably essential for business growth, but having a mentor can be a game-changer. In my experience, seeking guidance from someone who has navigated the challenges and successes you aspire to achieve is invaluable. They are there to provide insights, advice, and a unique perspective that help you avoid pitfalls and make informed decisions – and are a great sounding board as someone often removed from the day-to-day challenges of running the business.

  1. Go in with your eyes wide open

Nobody really tells you just how tough being an entrepreneur and business owner is. Frequently glamourised, – it will be lonely, painful, and demoralising at times. Nobody will care as much or put in as much graft as you, and rightly so. You will take all the risk, and you may well not get all the reward.

It’s a rollercoaster that demands resilience and a relentless drive to overcome obstacles, but hand in hand with that in an exhilarating journey that is unbelievably fulfilling, and meaningful on so many levels.

Written by:

Tim Roedel


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