"To be successful in business, you need to show some passion," says David Graham, founder of Code Ninjas
Starting a business isn’t something to be taken lightly. Whether the venture goes well, or you fail at the first hurdle, the experience can change your life forever. I can wholeheartedly say that going into business for myself certainly changed my life, for the better. I’m not going to put that down to luck, because I worked very hard to get to where I am today, but I am proud to share with you one of the biggest secrets of my success.
To be successful in business, you need to show some passion. You need to have a keen interest or a solid appreciation for your chosen sector in the first place. I’m sorry to say that, in most cases, knowledge or skill just isn’t enough. The two come hand in hand – passion and knowledge – because a business owner faces multiple scenarios through the course of their business where one, the other, or both are required to come up with a long-term solution. But managing business and pleasure can be easier said than done. Here are my five top tips for achieving both effectively.
1. Let the love shine through
As a self-confessed nerd – a badge I’ve worn proudly for 20-plus years! – I’ve capitalised on my love of technology by launching numerous coding start-ups. I love what I do because I get to do what I love, every single day - and that’s something I make no excuses for. In business, wearing your heart on your sleeve isn’t a bad thing. If you love the sector enough to go into it as a full-time vocation, then capitalise on your passion for it by demonstrating that love at all times. That will shine through in every project or task you take on, which will, in turn, inspire your team, associates and even your customers.
2. Don’t lose sight of your motivation
Blood, sweat and tears aren’t things that can be easily faked. To make the necessary commitment to the inception and ongoing success of any enterprise, passion is the one thing that will constantly remind you of why you started it all in the first place. When the going gets tough - and trust me, that happens to the best of them - the important thing to remember is that you most probably started the business to offer a solution to a problem. Never lose sight of the commitment you made and focus on the positive change you’re making to a community.
3. Use the tools you’ve already got
I launched Code Ninjas in 2016, combining my background in tech start-ups with, as a parent, knowledge of what kid’s love – gaming and building robots. My experience of both, mixed with a previous venture of owning a gym franchise, stood me in good stead when it came to franchising the business as a means of expansion later down the line. That knowledge was invaluable to me and something I’d really encourage prospective entrepreneurs to consider before attempting to start a business – assess your skillset beforehand.
There were 672,890 new companies registered in the UK in 2018 and 2019 - how do you make yours stand out from the crowd? Utilising your skillset - the more niche, the better - will support you in establishing a credible and trustworthy business, built from the fundamental knowledge of your customer and their needs.
4. And utilise the tools of others for everything else
The success of Code Ninjas has come about through the combined effort of my specialist team of professional and proactive co-workers. Each and everyone brings their personal skillset to my business, making it a bigger, better brand, every single day. Combining your passion with the passions of others is an entrepreneurially strategic way to take a business from good, to great. And, as a franchisee, chances are that you invested in your brand because of the specialist support available from your franchisor. Make good use of that guidance at every available opportunity. Essentially, no man is an island – don’t assume your knowledge alone is enough to take your franchise to lofty heights.
5. Nurture the passion – and know when to leave it in the office!
To this day, I still find so much personal satisfaction in discovering the latest digital projects or coding developments and I invest my own downtime in keeping up-to-date with those developments. But I also know that to be a successful entrepreneur, life is about balance. Therefore, I make sure I allocate a reasonable amount of my time to switching off, spending time with my family and catching up with friends.
There’s no magic formula to starting a business but I can certainly vouch for the advantage that starting up in a sector you’re passionate about offers when the time comes to take the leap. Whether you’re ready to tackle the challenge right now, or dreams of business ownership are more of a slow-burn, I wholeheartedly encourage you to continue to nurture the love you have for your chosen field. That will offer the best start in business you could ever imagine.
David Graham is the CEO and co-founder of Code Ninjas