RB: Tell us about your typical day. What time do you start? What do you do? How does your day end?
JP: Less than I should, I imagine. I do have a book (this is a bit of a weird one but hear me out) where I write down three positive things in my life at the end of each day. There are so many up and downs each day in running a business, and so many different pressures from all angles, I think it’s really important to put things in perspective each day. However I would say that myself and my co-founder have invested a lot of time in coaching so that we can take the chance to sit back and evaluate how things are going and where our priorities are, and even more importantly how we’re communicating about that. No rituals – I feel like I don’t have time!
JP: There are lots! Everything has changed, really, although myself and my co-founder have remained the same. The major theme has been expansion – our business has grown in every dimension (turnover by tenfold, our staff from 4 to over 20, number of schools we work with, you name it) in the last year. It all felt very small and steady at the time but looking back it’s quite crazy! I think I’ve probably changed quite a lot too.
JP: Again, different every day. We had to let someone go recently which was utterly horrible, and a really challenging decision. My personal challenge is prioritisation – more than I could have ever anticipated or even articulate, there are hundreds of different things to consider, and part of maintaining sanity in running a business is realising you can’t do them all! The mental pressure it puts on someone with my need to get things finished is really quite amazing, so I try hard to remember the perspective and what’s really important (working ‘on the business not in it’!).
JP: For me it’s the incremental changes, the ones that require not only the careful, entrepreneurial, and hard thinking, but also the motivation to implement. Because our business is quite operations heavy it’s important for us to make sure everything is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible, especially as it’s grown from the ground up and that often meant we took a route which then needs adapting. Innovation can be anything from large (designing an app, pivoting a key part of the business) to the more usual and small – for me the small every day can be done by everyone (in our business and others) and that attitude to change is what we look for in people joining our team.RB: How do you balance being a “big dreamer” vs setting realistic goals for your business?
JP: I think part of setting goals is dreaming big! We didn’t set up our business to conquer the world, we did it to help schools with their income. That helps, because when I set targets I’m not trying to think about how we can be the next unicorn, I’m looking at our growth, the market, and extrapolating out! I once heard that when you write something down it makes it [insert number, it doesn’t really matter] more times likely to happen. Setting goals and dreaming big, looking at where you want to be, is what makes it realistic! Is that an answer?RB: Who or what motivates you to keep going with your business? And Why?
JP: Because I love it. And also I think we’re making a real difference to the schools we work with. In the past year it’s been our employees – some of them have recently said they love their job, and providing that for someone is for me the ultimate motivator.
RB: Has your definition of success changed since you have started your business? If so, how?
JP:No, it’s always been about enjoying your life (and part of that is your job) and making a difference in what you do. Right now, running a business definitely ticks those boxes for me! The bigger difference we make (to our schools, our customers, our employees) the more successful it is!
RB: What would you say is the most important skill required to run a business?
JP:Determination, or rather not giving up when things are totally draining/rubbish/painful/frustrating. Also the ability to have initiative and ask ‘why that way’ – to look at how to change things for the better. Also the ability to be kind and polite even when everything is going wrong and you’re hating your day/the person you’re speaking to!
RB: There are a lot of myths about entrepreneurs. Now that you have started and are successfully running your own business what would you say is the biggest myth? What have you learned most from it?
JP: I don’t know many myths! I do think there’s the impression that entrepreneurs are born, and there are just people out there that are good at starting businesses and people who aren’t. I don’t think that’s the case – anyone can start a business with the willpower and a good idea! It doesn’t have to be a complicated new app, being an entrepreneur can be as simple as tutoring yourself rather than through an agency, or setting up as an individual make up artist rather than going through a salon. Just takes hard work!