In 2002, picture a young guy with a passion for music in the small bedroom of his home helping struggling musicians prepare their tax returns after work. Gradually, word-of-mouth referrals evolve to a point where he quits his day job and starts up a small accounting business.
1. Tom, what initially
inspired you to start your own business?
I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the smartest things I did in the early days was creating and promoting the brand ahead of myself as an individual. It meant that as we grew, the reputation I’d built personally was transferrable onto my staff.
The best part about having a business partner is having someone to share the wins with. Running a business is a really hard slog, a lot of thankless time and effort goes into it and it’s important to celebrate every success you have along the way, no matter how small. Having supportive family and friends is great, but having someone who’s right there in the trenches beside you makes it a lot more enjoyable.
Paul coming on as a business partner was a pretty gradual thing. He was an employee for the first 4 or 5 years of his time at White Sky and as he learned and developed his skills, he became more than just an employee. He was someone I could bounce ideas off, someone I really trusted and relied upon. He was also really focussed on the growth of the business and not just his own role, so that made running the company together more enjoyable.
So bringing Paul on as a partner wasn’t just a clever tactical decision - although it was great for the business - it was also about creating an opportunity for enjoying the journey.
There was a 2 year period around 2012-2014 where we were growing at a rate of about 1 new employee every 6 weeks. There were a lot of logistical difficulties with that in terms of cash-flow, office space, etc. But by far the hardest part was the training.
It’s no secret that to build a successful business you need good people around you. But it’s easy to lose sight of that when things are going 100 miles an hour.
Take the time to find really great people who are willing and capable to take on responsibility, not just do your leg work. That way, you won’t burn yourself out and you can instead focus on the bigger picture.
Whether that means bringing on a partner, or just hiring really good people and keeping them happy, it’s vital that you don’t try to do it all yourself.
Following up your point about the importance of delegation and trusting your staff, for those readers wanting to learn more about this essential leadership skill, then check out "How to delegate"
About the interviewer
Brian Carroll is the founder of Performance Development, a training business in Melbourne, Australia. He is an experienced management coach with a passion for helping people achieve their goals in life and business. You can find out more about Brian at his Google + profile