Ride the Lion. Bite Back.

Ride the Lion. Bite Back.

Entrepreneurship and running your own business is a bit like riding a lion. Everyone looks at you and says ‘Wow, look at you, aren’t you really brave’ and all you can think about is how to stop the bloody thing eating you.

Easily the best description of entrepreneurship I heard in my journey over the last 12 months.

In early 2015 I launched two businesses Connected Talent and Ally Consulting. Spread the risk. Multiple irons in the fire. Work longer and harder than anyone else and you will be fine. Solid advice from trusted colleagues, associates, family and friends. Thankfully both businesses are doing well and are looking at substantial growth and international expansion in 2016. However I’m still watching the lion like a hawk.. a non-tasty, rather bony hawk that the lion will ignore unless he is really hungry.

So here are my 5 tips to survive your first year in business and stay on the right side of the lion:

  1. Build a Team of people around you that you trust and become less tolerant of those that are less than trustworthy. In fact jettison them as soon as possible. Some people will enjoy watching you being eaten by a lion. Like dentists for example.
  2. Stay Strong; be relentless and focus on those things that are guaranteed to deliver revenue. You can waste a huge amount of time chasing less tangible possible gains. Go for the ‘gazelles’ with a mild limp and don’t eat all the food in one sitting.
  3. Respect your Customers. This is very different from ‘the customer is always right’. In both recruitment and consultancy worlds the customer is not always right. Sorry it’s a blunt, bludgeoning truth. Build relationships not supply chains. Chain’s are for prisoners; relationships have mutual interest at their core.
  4. Not Everyone Will Like You. Accept that and move on. The less time you worry about that the more productive you will be. Even solitary lions that come across as a little bit odd can do very well. Look at some of our greatest tech entrepreneurs. Most of them were turfed out of the pride at a very young age.
  5. Bite Back. Don’t assume that because you are small you should ‘just take it’. If you don’t value and defend what you do how can you expect anyone else to. You have value, you work hard – sometimes you may have to nibble and nip the lion to remind him you are still there.

If you decide to take the leap in 2016 and ‘ride the lion’ I wish you well. Would I change anything? Not a chance… but I might bring a better saddle and try to get my hands on Aslan. He has a great Northern Ireland accent and could be handy in a scuffle.