Insider 42 under 42 Blog on Growth
I was asked to write a blog for Insider NW, a fantastic business magazine which I am part of their current 42 Under 42 – a group of 42 business owners and leaders typically from Small businesses across all sectors.
I though I’d post it direct on to our blog pages and I hope you enjoy the read. It was from the heart BUT had a lot more words before being edited. No change there then!
A business has to grow, doesn’t it? If not, it won’t survive.
I started urbanbubble in August 2007 and my decision to move into property management, specifically apartment blocks, came from my experience of receiving poor service as flat owner. At the time I was working full-time as a consultant to the utility industry in Leeds and worked until 2am most nights, and weekends, to keep the new project ticking over.
We were cutting our teeth on four apartment blocks at the time, slowly building clarity and confidence with the service I spent time perfecting, knowing it was head and shoulders above the rest.
In June 2009, I went full time. I recruited someone to help with administration and moved house to accommodate an office. It was a milestone – our first employee hired and dedicated business space in two front bedrooms. The next goal was attaining £10,000 revenue a month.
Those first few months were the hardest of my life and the most anxious days I have ever worked. At any moment I felt that one phone call, one bad move and a property would be lost and we’d cave in. I had a fear of not knowing where the next new business enquiry would come from and where would we find new customers. But that fear actually gave me something that can’t be taught.
It brought the standards and service we had to deliver into focus. I developed an edge, a sharpness I’d never had and was constantly critiquing my achievements and looking at how the business could do more and be better.
I would re-run each day in my head to see where I had wasted time, how I could be more resourceful and the next steps that needed to be taken. I also developed a reliance on that gut feeling small business owners have. It’s usually to be trusted as it’s usually right.
Nine months after our first hire and house move, we took on a 1,500 sq ft office in Manchester to accommodate a burgeoning property portfolio, and since that point we have grown the business to 23 staff, just under £700,000 turnover and a healthy profit. In December 2012, we won, in my view, the most coveted of national property management awards from News on the Block.
I am sure the company could have grown more effectively, quickly and with more customers, but now we are here, up to speed and confident, I have worked myself into a position where I can focus on strategy and properly leading the business. I’ve installed operational management, so my finger is still on the pulse, but also given direction, trust and autonomy to my team.
Growth is a natural part of business, it should be expected and not a surprise. The real celebration is in those first milestones, getting off the ground and battling through the challenges that could have easily taken me down a different path. It’s also worth reflecting on your personal evolution as a leader learning every day, getting better, doing more and achieving even greater things.