Liberty is 21 years old today. I remember the day that my bank manager told me the business would likely fail within the first two years so it’s good to think we’ve reached this milestone and we’ve had some successes along the way. To celebrate, I thought I’d share some of the things that I believe make for good business advice. I hope you enjoy!
- Be brave but trust your instincts
It’s a given that most people who start their own businesses are risk takers. It’s really part of the DNA that makes an entrepreneur. But risk taking for the sake of throwing caution to the wind isn’t a recipe for success. I’ve always believed in doing things differently and that’s really the Liberty “secret sauce.” We challenge the status quo and don’t settle for the same. Generally in business there is a balance between a crazy idea formed in the middle of a sleepless night and a tendency to not do anything that might rock the boat – but with all the decisions I’ve made, I have relied heavily on my own instincts and the instincts of the people around me I trust the most – professionally and personally. Call it a sixth sense, a feeling in your gut or whatever you like, but ultimately the buck stops with me and the decisions I have made, and continue to make on a daily basis affect others – it’s never a bad thing to remember that and whilst pushing forwards with new ideas through an innate self-belief it’s the right thing to do, it’s helpful to consider those your decision will affect too – this is what makes for a good decision.
- Surround yourself with talent
Being the founder of a business doesn’t necessarily mean you are great at everything. In fact, every successful business owner needs a team of trusted, talented people to complement their own skill set. I’ve known from day one of Liberty that the business would only be successful if our workforce was diverse. I’m proud to say I’ve learned a lot from the people who have been on this journey with me. There is absolute truth in the adage “no man/woman is an island.” A team is just that, a culmination of a plethora of views, opinions, skills, ideas – and that teamwork is very often the thing that makes the difference for any business. People make it work.
- Stick to your knitting
We hear a lot about diversification and very often a business can adapt, pivot and morph themselves successfully. But it can also have an adverse effect. Brand recognition matters and there is a reason your customers buy from you – so it’s never a good idea to try to become something you are not.
- Do the maths
Business leaders are generally experts in their particular field and not good at the financial side of things. Yes, you’ve managed your own finances but running a profitable business is a skill. Understanding the P&L, being able to read a balance sheet and knowing the difference between debtors and creditors is paramount. Hire a great finance team who can crunch the numbers but also understand your business – together you are a powerful business asset – and believe me when I say “cashflow is king” – it sounds obvious, but it’s painfully true.
- You can’t please all the people all the time!
Don’t be afraid to say “no”. Not all business is good business. Liberty’s ethos has always been based on working with likeminded clients in partnership for mutual success. If there is no relationship or partnership approach, it’s best to step away. In my experience there needs to be trust and respect on both sides to make things work – never be afraid to say no – it will benefit you and the business in the end.
- Be yourself
Relationships matter. People will only want to work with you if they like you. Just because you run your own business, don’t get above your station. Remember where you started and treat people the way you would wish them to treat you. Most of the time you need the support of your network anyway, so being full of your own importance isn’t going to cut it. Liberty’s ethos was built on exceptional customer service and value for money. We want to make a difference to our clients’ businesses so we’ve always got them in mind first and foremost. Their success is our success in the end, so there is absolutely no reason to have to puff ourselves up and try to be something we aren’t. As with most things in life, honesty and integrity count for a lot – and in business it’s very much the same.
Here’s to the next 21 years!