12 lessons learnt in two years of business

This week, Don’t Cry Wolf turned two.

Just writing that feels gratifying and a little surreal. 

When I kicked off this odd little communications consultancy it was a thrilling roll of the dice. But, had you told me that we’d have 10 powerful personalities in the business, a bunch of epic clients and an award win under our belt, I’d have thanked you for your flattery and asked you what you were selling.

Yet here we are. 

The rabble of magnificent misfits I have the pleasure of calling ‘the team’ have taken the ball and have run with it. Occasionally they let me appear at events and conferences and the odd pitch, but mostly they astonish me with what they’re doing and distract me by either letting me spin on my chair or sending me off to a tailor to talk about the properties of a fine tweed. 

And, true to our values, as we’ve grown, the wider world has benefited, with over £15k going to charity last year, a carbon-neutral plan for 2021, and a bunch of societal policies including the launch of our apprenticeship scheme. More will be revealed in our 2019 report.

On this journey, I’ve learned an extraordinary amount. Trying to distil this education into a blog is tough, but keeping the revelations to 12 points will sharpen my mind and hopefully produce useful observations.

In no particular order:

Hire seniors early onBring in the talent, spread the management load and build a core team of excellence. 

Get help outside your bubble – Taking on a NED or getting in some mentoring sessions is crucial to your development and for business performance

Pitch based on values – For sustainable growth, take on new business based on values not just profit.

Always go big The middle ground is so warm and tempting. Avoid it at all costs. Always go big.  It will pay off.

But, pick your battles Applies to new business, awards, opinions and initiatives. Do less. But do it really well.

Why?Jamil Qureshi, a chap I’ve had the pleasure of working with, says ask why five times and you get to the real reason. 

Get personal – Setting professional objectives should be done in the context of personal ones. Everyone has life goals. Weave into them rather than pigeon hole them.

Don’t look left and right – It can be tempting to benchmark yourself against your competitors. It does naff all to help your business. Forget left and right. Look ahead. 

Set the tone – In all relationships, clients or team set the tone early on. It keeps everyone honest and eliminates doubt.

Get paid on time – Sounds daft. It’s not. Loads of apathy when it comes to small businesses getting paid. Get strong. Get direct. Get paid.

Invest in what matters – people are much more grown-up than you think. Not everyone wants a swanky club membership or pricey gestures. Most prefer strong healthcare, great pay and useful benefits.

Be imperfect – The pursuit of perfection is a little pointless. You’re not going to be great at it all. Lean into that.

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