Advice To My 27 Year Old Self

Posted on: 2nd May 2018 by: Dokoo

Our MD Andy Hill asks a poignant question, what advice would I give to my 27 year old self?

I remembered last week how I stepped out of full time employment when I was 27. This was about ten years ago when I setup my first business. I was reminiscing with some of my team about how business has changed in those ten years and how some things have remained the same. Clients, suppliers and staff have came and went in those ten years but one thing has remained constant, my love for what I do. I then started thinking about how I have changed as a person & businessman and what advice I would give myself starting out if I could rewind the clock. Below I will list four of the things that I have learnt and hopefully you will get some value from this article. If you do please leave some of your favourite lessons/ tips.

This will take you no more than 2 minutes to read,

Get Better At Saying No - I look back at my first business which was a graphic design / advertising business. I took on any work that was going. A client would tell me a budget and I would say that I could do something for that, 100% of the time. I thought more clients and more work made me a better businessman. How wrong I was. I remember the straw that broke the camel's back. I won a tender for a large council, the budget was £5,100, which on paper sounded great. Upon the first meeting with the council I was told that the budget had to include, outdoor advertising like adshels, 48 sheets and 2,000 48 page brochures printed full colour. After doing some sums taking and into account the advertising cost & my designer's time, the grand profit on that project was £75. From the day I finished that project I forced myself to say "no" more often. It doesn't come easy but whenever I get offered a project that looks good on paper I always think of that tender example.

At Dokoo we do social media marketing and we do it well. I made the decision 5 years ago when I started the business that I wanted to only work on things I loved. I love social media and the impact it's had on business and marketing so enjoy every project we work on. Find your thing in your sector that you love doing and you will become an industry expert after a few years. I turn down between 50-100k a year from businesses who are looking websites, SEO or Google Adwords. Saying "no" to them hurt at the start but is probably the best decision I have made in business.

Only You Control Your Destiny - This is a brutally honest one that took me a few years in business to understand. The only person who controls your destiny is you, you are the person that makes the business a success or makes it a failure. The things you do or don't do today will impact your business in days/ weeks or months, that is certain. I read a ton of business books and I feel that one of the hardest challenges for any young business person to overcome is the belief that he/ she can do it. Your mindset in business will determine your success, not your ability to do the actual work.

In 2008 I was paid about £23,000 a year, I thought that if I could match this salary from running my own business I would be a success. Well after a few months running my new business I was on track to make almost exactly the same money I would have been paid from my old job. It was freaky. An old business coach told me to think bigger and set goals. So I told myself I wanted to earn double what I would have made from my old job. I achieved this in year 2 and only because I wanted to prove a point to myself.

Enjoy The Ride - The life of an entrepreneur is never straight forward, there are many ups and many downs. I have many countless sleepless nights about clients not paying bills or where the next big contract will come from. But, as a whole most of these thoughts have been completely insignificant in the grand scheme of things. If you are sitting there worrying about your lack of clients of your cashflow then be assured in knowing that I together with every business I know have been there too, so don't stress too much .My business has afforded me the opportunity to visit clients around the world.

At the moment Dokoo has a number of US and European clients. If you said to me 10 years ago that I would be winning pitches against household name US advertising companies I would not believe you. Enjoy the good times as It's only when they pass you realise how good you have it. My business coach Kate Marshall gave me the great advice a couple of years ago to get a highlight book which is essence is a scrap book where I include good news stories about me and my business, testimonials from clients, words of encouragement from other business owners, letters of offer on big contracts. Basically anything that other people are saying about me. It has been a game changer and maybe my most prized asset.

Join Networking Groups That Develop You - In my first month in business in 2007 I was invited to an event in the Marine Court Hotel in Bangor and told "turn up at 7am and bring some business cards." I was slightly terrified and arrived to be greeted by 15 individuals who were setting up a Bangor branch of an organisation called BNI. I joined BNI that day and for 3 years formed an integral part of the group and even became an ambassador in NI. It was a fantastic experience for a new business owner and taught me so many great skills. After the Bangor BNI group ceased to exist I struggled for years to find a networking group that gave me the same buzz. In late 2015 I was introduced to Vistage by Gareth Quinn and joined the group lead by Kate Marshall. Vistage meetings happen monthly and centre on your personal development as much as your business. Vistage has been a game changer for me and my personal development. We meet monthly and I can honestly say I leave every Vistage meeting like I can take on the world. It is an fantastic group of individuals and I am honoured to call many of them friends and a couple business partners. If you are run your own business you need a support network that helps, supports and challenges you on your business journey.

This article could go on for lot longer but I wanted to try and keep it concise.

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