Velocity Digital is three years old today! I was going to do a clever video or some kind of stunt, but after some thought, I decided that the best way to celebrate hitting three is to offer my thoughts and experiences from the past 1095 days. And most likely eat some cake. Here we go…
Running a business is an amazing thing to do
It really is. It will test you to your absolute limits, make you doubt yourself, effect your relationships and give you grey hairs (I’ve adopted many of those!), but one of the most satisfying things is sitting down at the end of a long, hard day and saying ‘I did that’. It feels like having your cake and eating it a lot of time. Watching something progress under your own steam (and of course with the help of those people that are along with you for the ride) is incredible, every little victory feels like you’ve won a war and success, certainly for me, tastes sweeter than it ever did when I was employed. It’s never easy, but that keeps you on your toes.
I’m the sole-owner of Velocity Digital. We’re a two-man team, which means we are small in terms of actual humans, but our work far outstretches that scale. Regardless, of size, I’m the one who’s responsible for the business. I keep things afloat, ensuring the money comes in when we’ve delivered great work. I make hard decisions about expanding or retracting the human-size of the business (I made a huge decision last year that meant four people moving on to pastures new). The buck stops with me, 100%. While I do thrive on that, there are times when I feel lonely. Of course, I have the support of my wonderful wife, Julie, parents, family and friends and all of their help, input and advice is hugely appreciated and always considered, but ultimately, the final action, whatever that may be, sits with me.
At times I wish I had a co-director, someone who can share the load, tell me I’m wrong, buck me up when I’m feeling the weight on my shoulders and so on. That would be nice. Most of the time. It would of course mean that I’m not able to act on my thoughts alone which again, can be a positive and a negative.
Those who really know me will know that I’m not a hugely positive person at times, in fact, I can be pretty pessimistic. It’s just the way I am. It can be too easy for me to see the worst in things, and while that often leads to me taking the most realistic view of a situation, it’s likely that the majority of time, I can over-think things with my pessimistic hat on. I’m not miserable, and I do have a lot of energy, but I don’t buy the ‘always be positive’ mantra that gets slung about so widely on crappy motivational quote images across social media. Every ying needs its yang, and I can see the positive and negative a lot of the time, just not always.
Not once in the past three years have I woken up on a Monday morning and dreaded the day/week ahead. That’s because I’m addicted to what I do. It’s a positive addiction! Finding new ways to do things for our clients and the business is awesome. Attracting new clients and helping current ones gives me a huge buzz. I don’t want it to stop, ever.
I’m not only addicted to running Velocity, but I’ve well and truly caught the business bug. So much so, that I’m pretty close to launching a new one with a very good friend of mine (lonely no more). It will be challenging, exciting and if things go to plan, open up a world of opportunities. More on that one soon. I’ve also recently taken a slice of an app project that sits in the education sector, again with a very good mate of mine, the team behind it is amazing and I feel like it may well be a disruptor. Is it possible to have my fingers in those pies and still run a successful Velocity Digital? Hell yes.
It can be hard to find your place in the market
As I mentioned earlier, Velocity is ‘small’ in the sense of not having a big team of people. I don’t buy into the view that many seem to take that having a large team of people is a key indicator of success. Of course, it can be, but speak to a lot of owners of businesses with a heavy human payload and they’ll often tell you they wish it was the exact opposite. I may well have a team of great people around me at some point in the future (I have one chap with me now, cheers Fino), but it will only happen when the time is 110% right.
Why am I asking if size matters? I’ve heard a few times in the past three years ‘ah, you’re not very big, not sure that suits us’. It always baffles me. If I was proposing work that required a plethora of bodies, I could understand that attitude (most of the time), but that’s never the case. Do some people in businesses just need a badge of honour of working with a ‘big’ company? I think so.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it…
I was literally sneered at by someone at a networking event recently after I replied to ‘how many people do you employ’, with ‘one’. You’d think I’d just pissed in his chips. Said plonker then asked what type of businesses I work with, I dropped some names in that by anyone’s standards are impressive and he quickly changed his tune. At that point I dropped the mic and walked off. The point is that he most likely expected me to not respond with the sort of business names I did due to the fact that I don’t have a big team. Fool.
Back to the point of this section – it can be hard to find your place in the market. Velocity works with some pretty large companies and also some small local businesses and startups. I don’t care what size any business that wants to work with us is, as long as I feel we can truly offer them value. I don’t hang my hat on scale. That can lead to a problem when defining who we want to serve and within what sector. Most of what we work on is for consumer-facing businesses – does that mean we can’t work on B2B projects? No. But should we only focus on B2c? It would make our proposition simpler, however I believe we can deliver in B2B. Should we only focus on SMEs? Again, it would make things simpler, but we can achieve a lot for businesses of all scale. Our place in the market is one I’m still figuring out! Who are our competitors? Large digital agencies? In some regards yes. Other small consultancies? For sure. Freelancer? To a certain extent, yes! Questions, questions, questions! I think the ability to be agile is key here.
Your business is always on your mind!
I can’t escape it. I think about it at all times of day. I dream about it. It won’t go away. I never experienced that at the same level with any job. Is it healthy? Probably not. Does it lead to better decisions? I think so. I often make what turn out to the be the better decisions when I least expect it – when running for example. My brain is a smorgasbord of thoughts and ideas at all times, and Velocity takes up a huge chunk of that. Does this bother me? Not one bit as I ensure I do have time to spend on non-business things, like spending time with my family. It does always creep back in though and I suspect it’ll always be the same.
They’re my key thoughts, now here’s some nuggets (no, not just the pic)
- Help others and they will help you for sure. The majority of people in business are nice
- There are however a bunch of people that are bitter, jealous and will do everything they can to make you fail
- Never believe anything is ‘good enough’
- Don’t fear fear, we all get scared
- Invest in technology, you pay for what you get
- Business networking is hard, but treat it right and it will benefit you and others around you
- Never think that you can’t learn from others, you’re never the best person at what you do
- Work spaces make a huge difference, just don’t stretch yourself for the sake of a pool table!
- Read, read, read. But make sure you do too
- Never undervalue yourself with rock-bottom prices just to win work
- Don’t ever let someone speak to you in a way you would be embarrassed to speak to others, even if they are a customer
- Enjoy the ride. If this one doesn’t work out, go and buy a ticket for another rollercoaster
A huge thanks to every single person that has helped Velocity get to three! It’s been a pleasure working with every client, colleague, supplier and everyone else in-between!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on running a business! Please do leave a comment, just scroll down past the related posts etc and you’ll find the place to do that!
Images via Shutterstock.
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