What makes you spring out of bed in the morning?
A combination of 3 things:
- The creative project that I happen to be working on that day.
- The slightly more complex problems that will need my cerebral attention to solve.
- The amazing staff that work for The Potting Shed who continue to challenge and amaze me every day.
What does your normal day look like?
I don’t think there is a normal day in our industry / company, it’s why we love it. In any one day we can be working on one of many colourful projects, be it a financial client in Jersey, a beer label design in Switzerland, an infrastructure project in Saudi Arabia or a Californian criminal law firm website…just to name a few. These are just current examples but we are privileged enough to have such an interesting group of clients both locally and internationally so no one single day feels normal as such. If a sequence of days did become normal I am sure we’d seek to change that.
How did you get to where you are today?
99% perspiration, 1% inspiration. It sounds cliché but it really has been through hard work mainly. Having said that we have a philosophy that “there is always a better way”. So I work hard to keep that in mind and always try and be better each day…to that end it also requires a lot of inspiration and creative thinking. This has ultimately driven me to get where I am today. If a day passes where I felt I haven’t progressed or learnt something for the better of The Potting Shed then I’ll try and address that. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that you get to tweak and adapt your approach at your own discretion to be better and happier.
What couldn’t you live your life without?
It sounds contrived but it is the people around me. My fellow company owners who support and challenge me daily. I have mentioned all the other staff members already but also my friends and family. Access to amazing technology which enables me to visualise all the creativity in my head. Finally, my immediate access to Jersey’s awesome coastline at any point in the day.
Which outsiders (professional services, investors, mentors, family etc.) have been most important to the success of your business?
Professional Services would definitely be our accountants. As an ownership of 4 creatives we attempted running our own accounts for 2 years as we were much smaller. In our third year we outsourced this and 5 years on from that it was clearly the best decision we made.
Mentors – 3 people beyond my fellow business owners that have really helped us to be successful are Greville Mitchell, David Stearn and Stefan Sagmeister.
Greville and David have both acted as Non-Executive Directors for us and have inspired and advised us as a company and me personally to always be better and maintain a positive and professional outlook. Stefan is a world leading creative and I am lucky enough to call a friend. Since university he has always inspired me in his work and he continues to do so for the better of our company and reminds us that creative happiness is beneficial not only for our people but for our clients.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are 2 that stand out. Firstly landing a big bank as a client 8 years ago that went into administration. In our first year of business, we were confronted with a hefty financial hit because of this but in some ways it taught us a very positive lesson very early on in our business lives, which even now we keep as a profound lesson to remember. Starting a business in a recession was also challenging but positively echoes into our business disposition today. Secondly, and more personally, it was managing lots of people. You have this vision that running your own business will mean you get to focus on yourself and define your own days. This is true to a degree but you also have responsibilities to help lead all your staff. This has been an incredibly rewarding process over the years and an area of business that I have vastly improved in.
What advice would you give to your younger self before embarking on your business journey?
I would tell myself that whilst we are the sum of our failures and not successes it’s important to accept and celebrate those really positive achievements in business. We can become so busy that we forget to give ourselves the true pat on the back we deserve. Also, never underestimate the importance of saying no sometimes! Oh and to put all my money on Blazing Riley at the 14:00 at Aintree in 2008!