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Ten things I’ve learnt in business - a reflection on the last 10 years

October 2020

  1. When you start a business some of the people who you think will support you do not, and remarkably some of the people who you think will never support you do exactly that. I will always remember the latter group (they know who they are) and they have my undying loyalty for the rest of time.
  2. Running a small business it is rather like riding a roller coaster. You get some fantastic highs but also some really tough low days. Do not take it personally, it is absolutely normal (just try and make sure the highs out way the lows!) Take time to celebrate your successes, however small, and always try to stay positive.
  3. Be clear on your vision for your business from the outset – where you want it to go and how your business might look in 12 months, 3 years and 5 years and beyond. Try not to wander off and get distracted from that original vision.
  4. Establish your culture and company values early on whilst it is only a few of you. That is what the rest of your team will buy into when the business expands. Recognise the strengths and weaknesses of your team members and help them play to their strengths and address their weaknesses.
  5. You DO NOT have to win every bit of work or job in your market-place just make sure that you win your market share. Do not worry too much about what your competition is doing. Stay focused on your vision and don’t be afraid to say no to work that you do not want or clients whom you do not trust.
  6. Watch out for new start-up businesses and support them in the same way that you received support when you were a new business. Be part of your local business community and give your time and expertise for free when needed. Support younger professionals within your industry and encourage their career development.
  7. There are no short cuts to having a successful business. It takes patience, sacrifice, a lot of hard work but the eventual rewards are definitely worth it and it beats working for anybody else, hands down.
  8. Be aware that if you want to grow your business you have to stop being the technician and you have to learn how to be a business owner and manage the team. Managing Director is not a made up title on a business card. It takes a lot of effort, introspection and understanding that if you do not delegate, and trust others, then you can never grow your business. Build a network that you can rely on and collaborate with because you will never have sufficient skills in your team to do everything. Buy in expertise where it is needed.
  9. A good sustainable and developed business is all about systems. We at GJS Dillon spend hours and hours fine tuning our systems for every eventuality that we can imagine. How else can we claim to be the best if we don’t have a structure and tested systems that all our staff follow? That’s one of the reasons why we have been able to adapt well to the ‘new normal’ and support our clients throughout this period.
  10. Any why did I choose to set up my business in the midst of a recession in September 2010? I spotted an opportunity in my sector and I could see that in time I could establish a good market share. I had lots of loyal contacts in my chosen market-place but, to be honest, the biggest fear for me was getting to the end of my career knowing that I had never been brave enough to set up my own business! I think it’s really important in life to have no regrets.
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