5 Business Lessons I have Learnt Along the Way

I am a big believer in the saying “You learn something new every day”. If you stop to think about it, you really do learn something new every day!

When it comes to business, most of us gain our knowledge from school, college, books, online sources or speaking with other professionals. I have found that there is a big difference in gaining information from books and learning from actual experiences. (Both are valid, so don’t rule either out!)

Here would be my Top 5 lessons from my experiences so far:

1.      Think practically – It’s very exciting when you come up with a really great idea, but one of the key things I have learnt is to make sure that it is actually practical. Don’t let anyone try and dampen your desire to achieve your dreams, just make sure you think about how you will achieve them and ensure you have the resources behind you to help along the way.

 

2.      Communication is key – I cannot emphasise how important this is, in both verbal and written form. Communications should be clear and put in such a way that everyone understands: it is key to how you interact with your suppliers, staff and customers alike. Effective communication can help you resolve a difficult situation to your benefit and equally grow your business too.

 

3.      The right people – I know I am still young and this one is something I am still learning, and likely to continue learning in the years ahead. It is so important to have the right people in the right roles to help you achieve your business objectives. You won’t always get this right, but as long as you recognise and learn from this you can move forward. On the plus side, when you get good people in your team you recognise how much of an asset they can be to the business – be sure to look after them!

 

4.      You will fail – This might sound like quite a negative statement, but at some point in your business career it is very likely that you will fail. I personally found this one very hard, as I don’t like to fail. I have now learnt that there can also be positives to come from this. No matter how much you prepare, if you fail make it a lesson and move forward.

 

5.      Learn something new every day – no matter how much you know, or how much you think you may know, there will always be something to learn. Never forget this – and it applies as much to your personal life.

 

Along the route of business, you’ll learn many lessons and some will be more relevant than others, but these are my Top 5 and I hope they share some guidance which may help you along your journey.

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The story of an Invention

I moved in with my Nan and Grandad when I was 13. They had a small bungalow which was perfect for them, but possibly a bit tight when it came to the addition of their teenage grandson! So Grandad converted the garage into a room for me. We were down to the finishing touches and all that remained was to put up the blind and the curtains – yes, I was a fussy teenager and wanted both.

Grandad was 73 at the time and not so keen on climbing a ladder, so he sent me up them instead – closely supervised of course! It’s fair to say there were a number of drill bits and fixings that got broke in the process, and after a time Grandad took over, questioning my superior DIY skills. He didn’t have any luck either, but being an engineer by trade he knew the problem was there was nothing holding the fixing behind the gap in the plasterboard.
We went out to his shed in the garden and tinkered about with a number of ideas.

The first working prototype of the GripIt was made of a toilet roll tube and was held together with drawing pins – but the concept was there! Next, we sourced some plastic tubing and metal washers to make an actual fixing – it worked! And so, the GripIt was born!!!

It was a few days later, when I was sitting on a swing in the back garden with Grandad, that I suggested it would be cool to get this made and sold in shops. He agreed, but said he was too old to go through all that malarkey, and suggested I ran with it. Grandad wisely suggested that we get it patented before I took it out to the market.

I spent most of the following couple of years testing the product while I was waiting for the patent to come through. Testing was very scientific! It involved me putting a shelf on a plasterboard wall and putting bricks on it until they all fell off! In fairness, I am sure that’s probably not far off how the big guys do it?!

During this time, I was also working with a moulding company to build the plastic part of the GripIt, while the metal part was coming from another company that provided pressed steel. This is still the same steel used on the GripIts today! I would then assemble them at home.

2012 was a big year for me, we were building all the sample bags of the GripIts, one of each colour with a leaflet, packaging and a letter all drafted for when the patent would come through. The patent was granted in November 2012 and the next day I posted out my 400 sample bags. The rest is as they say ……. Is available in my book coming out soon!

The company is more than a business to me, it has real sentimental value, and when I look back and think of the hours Grandad and I spent together working on something we didn’t really think anything of, it will always remind me of the time we spent together and how much closer Grandad and I have become as a result of this.

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A Successful Team

Finding the correct team for your business is crucial. Some businesses may get it right first time, but in my experience, it’s something that my business has struggled with. Your teams are an important aspect of the business and at the end of the day, they are going to be the ones dealing with customers, bringing in the sales and running the show. You need them to be on the ball at all times.

I find, when looking for staff and interviewing, I go for a more informal and relaxed approach making them feel confident and bringing out their personality. I like to get to know the person and their personal story rather than relying solely on set questions, although I do ask some general business questions to find out if the job is right for them.

Having the correct team around you as a support network is a great help. As CEO, being able to trust your staff means less stress and pressure on you. Although you do need to get them working as a team beforehand.

They all have the same goal whether that’s hitting targets or growing the business, and that means they need to work together and connect as a team to achieve the same thing.
There are many ways you can manage your team, some are more successful than others.

You can have a team that is specific to a department which is what I find works best for GripIt® and is the most common kind of team you tend to find in businesses. A specific department/person has a work load they concentrate on.

You may have cross functional teams where you pull a team together by getting a mixture of staff from different departments. This normally happens when there is a new project with a set time frame for the task to be completed by.

Then there’s self-managing teams, most organisations have team leaders or supervisors who look after the team, manage their work load, allocate tasks and are generally there to support the team who report into them.

In some businesses, you will find a self-managing team where there is no team leader but everyone has a responsibility. The team can reach a goal without the need for anyone to oversee them. This is when trust comes into the equation. You must be able to trust your teams to do what they should be doing and be working together to achieve their goals and targets.

Teamwork and choosing the right person for the job is key when building a successful team. You must be confident that the person will fit in and be the right person to get the job done. They should be able to dedicate time to the job and work hard to achieve the goals set. Teamwork is important as everyone needs to be able to work together, there is no “I” in team as the saying goes. Everyone has something of value that they can add to help achieve the goals that are set.

GripIt® has several teams that we have spilt into departments, I feel this is how we work best.

We currently have:
Sales: Account Managers, Sales Representatives, Sales Managers and Customer Service
• Finance
• HR
Operations: Research and Development, Warehouse Operatives, Purchase Planner, QA, Machine Operatives
Marketing: Marketing Manager, Marketing Assistants and Graphic Designer

Although we have many teams, I like to be involved and know what’s going on. I feel it’s important as CEO that I engage with all members of staff, showing them that I am also working with them to help achieve their goals.

I also find incentives for staff encourages them to work hard. When a target is achieved I give out scratch cards or even just take them down to the pub for a drink after work. The saying goes “If you look after your staff, the staff will look after you” and this is definitely true.

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The Most Relaxing Place on Earth

I had often looked at images of the beautiful blue water and white sandy beaches of the Maldives on the internet, but never really thought growing up that it was somewhere I would actually get to visit.

Running your own company and being so young, one of the most relaxing things for me was to actually go home! So, when it came to deciding what to do for my 21st birthday, a trip to my dream destination seemed to good an opportunity to pass.

The business was going well, so I was fortunate enough to fly business class which I knew would all add to the overall experience for the trip.

The big day arrived and we had a good start with Laura managing to get all her stuff into two suitcases. We arrived for our 10 hour flight to the Maldives, we were able to relax ahead of the flight!

Upon arriving in the Maldives, the first thing I noticed was the wall of heat that hit us as soon as we stepped off the plane. The team in the office would have loved to see my face, given my love of aircon! We were taken from the airport to a small harbour where we were greeted by our speedboat driver who would take us to the island we were staying at. I was so excited on the journey out on the boat, and the stunning blue water had matched my every expectation from all those years of looking at pictures on the internet.

The resort was amazing! It had beautiful pools, restaurants and views of the surrounding sea. There was so much to take in, but I wanted to enjoy every minute of it. We were welcomed by the friendly resort staff who offered us drinks and took us too our room.

The room was everything I imagined with views out across the crystal blue sea and our private balcony had steps down into the water. A bath tub and sun loungers were built into the decking and the room itself was enormous.

Aside from water sports there is not much to do, which suited me perfectly as I wanted to just relax and read books. We did a little bit of snorkelling and it was really cool to see all of the tropical fish. There we so many of them. Laura even spotted a group of baby sharks.

The evenings were passed enjoying delicious fresh food, followed by cocktails while lounging on chairs built into sand and surrounded by lanterns – it was heaven!

For the first time in a long time, I was able to completely relax and switch off and I think Laura was grateful for the time with her and not spent continually checking my phone. Reality kicked back in when we landed back in the UK, and the phone started beeping with all the messages and emails. I often steal a quiet moment in the office when things are hectic and wish I was on the white beach islands… maybe one day?

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Making Business Decisions

Making decisions at the best of times can be tough but making business decisions is even harder, mainly because the decision won’t just affect you, so you must run through all the possible outcomes.

In business, most of the time it’s all about risk and depending on the level of risk you are willing to take this will often affect your business decisions. Some people make very low risk decisions and will only do things if there is plenty of evidence it will work, some make calculated risks which I would say are at medium level so they are confident in the outcome but there is still a risk element and then there are those that are very instinctive and will take a risk from the outset and jump quickly in to deciding.

So far in my business life, I would say I fit within the medium level risk taker category, I think you should take risks to grow a business but I do like to ensure they are calculated risks. I have also made the mistake in the past of ignoring my gut instinct and listening to other people’s advice but every time this has back fired so I would say if it feels wrong it usually is and if it feels right then go for it.

Being an entrepreneur and running a business, which is growing so rapidly, I have to make decisions all the time and although some are more complex than others I always go through the following processes:

1) Pro’s and Con’s – depending on how big the decision is I will either just do the list in my head or sit and write them down. This enables you to then see clearly if the decision you are about to make out ways the cons or whether it was a good idea but has more flaws than you first thought.

2) Use a trusted Sounding Board – Talk to someone you trust and use them as your sounding board for decisions, I don’t always listen to other people’s advice but for me the most important thing I find in sounding your ideas out is when explaining them to someone you often notice something that’s missing or that you hadn’t considered.

3) Gut Instinct – Always go with your gut instinct, even though this saying is very cliché. It’s true. Your gut instinct is normally right and that’s why the saying is used very often.

4) Don’t over think it! – Don’t over think your decision, put a time limit on making your decision which will depend on how small or large it is. In business you have to react quickly, in some cases so you need to be prepared to make decisions quickly and to not over think it. I think if you overthink things you end up making clouded decisions as you end up confusing things or going in to, too much detail that is not necessarily needed.

5) Always have a backup plan – If your decision doesn’t go as planned, a backup plan is your one to go to. You should always have one of these in the back of your head to ensure you’re going to get back to the place you were before. This is my main tip and one I always use, as it then gives you the comfort to take those risks.

There are 3 types of decisions that can be made when running or working in a business:

– Strategic
– Tactical
– Operational 

Strategic decisions are normally made by senior management and are usually long term and complex. The decision made would affect the company as a whole and one that must be well thought out.

Tactical decisions can be made by the middle management as they are less complex. These decisions normally follow once strategic decisions have been put in place to comply with them.

Operational decisions are day to day decisions that can be made by various tiers within the company. They are mainly simple and routine to ensure the tasks get done.

Everyone makes mistakes and in life you will make some wrong decisions, but for me I have always ensured I then understand what went wrong so I can learn from the mistakes and ensure they don’t happen again.

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Work Life Balance

For anyone who is an Entrepreneur you will all appreciate that a work life balance whilst very important is very hard when running your own business.

Personally, this is something I have struggled with since day one and I don’t see it calming down anytime soon, I have come to the terms that this is just part of life as an entrepreneur. I thought for this month’s blog I would share how I try to weigh up a work life balance and ways that I have found help me relax.

The problem nowadays is technology, I always think how did businesses run 20/30 years ago when phones and laptops were non-existent. With technology becoming more and more advanced it’s even more difficult to switch off as you now have all your emails, social media and cloud drives accessible 24/7 from any device. Like many entrepreneur’s business was my hobby from the very beginning which makes it even more difficult to break away as its always something I have enjoyed and is very addictive (some days it actually makes you jealous of the Xbox players of the world).

A couple of years ago when my business really started to take off I decided to have two mobiles one for personal and one for business, it worked for about a week until my fiancé Laura reminded me one day that I had left my personal phone at home for days and had been using my business phone 24/7 so what was the point. I reverted to just the one phone and still do to this day, it’s easier as I think the simpler you can make your life the better – especially when your spinning a million plates.

Since then I have tried all sorts of ways in which I could try and break away from work when at home by deleting my email app or by just turning the phone off as soon as I pull up on the drive but I have come around to the fact that none of these will work for me. My business is my life and my phone is my support system, for me knowing that I haven’t checked my emails for an hour or two puts me on edge and I have found that as long as I check every so often to ensure there’s no emergencies I can relax and although at the beginning I was having to then action all of the emails there and then I have finally got to the stage where I can leave the ones that aren’t that important until the next day.

The biggest challenge I have found is trying to explain why I am like I am to others that aren’t entrepreneurs and who don’t run their own business. My Fiancé, Laura for example is someone who just couldn’t understand why I have the urge to want to check my emails all the time as she has always grown up with her parents who have had 9-5 jobs. I do often wonder how nice it must be to be able to come home and just switch off until 9am the next day but as nice as it sounds I just don’t think this would work for me. I always say to my friends who laugh at me when were out at the pub and I’m checking my emails that if they had their own business and people relied on them that they would understand too – I never want to miss an opportunity.

When working long hours, it can be hard to find the time to see your partner, friends or family. So I try to find times throughout my week for example when there may be a quite hour or two where I can pop to see my Grandparents (as they are only 5 minutes away from the office) so a couple of times a week I’ll go there for lunch. Sometimes Laura will meet me for lunch so we can just have a half hour catch up, it’s one of those things that you have to make work, so you find a way. I must admit it does take its toll and in the early days I would go days on days without really seeing anyone as I would be working non-stop, getting home and Laura would be asleep, but at the time we both knew it wouldn’t be like this forever and I had to do it to get the business up and running.

Even though I live with my fiancé, Laura it’s still hard to spend quality time together like going out etc. rather than staying in, if I know I’m working on the weekend, we will do something in the week like go out for dinner or visit the cinema. However we spend lots of time over the weekends together shopping, eating out and going to see the families (with the occasional reply to work emails). With relationships, you need to put yourself in your partner’s position (something I am guilty of not doing in the past) and think about how they feel about you nonstop working and that taking some time out to spend quality time with them will go a long way.

The saying that’s always used is “work hard, play hard” and this is definitely what you should do! Make the times you do have off count, do something special don’t just stay in. Enjoy what you’re working so hard for!

In December 2016, me and Laura found out we were expecting our first baby together, something that we have both always wanted and for me it was always one of the main reasons I wanted to start out in business young, so that hopefully by the time I would have children I could take time off and be around as when I was younger my dad was having to work so hard to provide for the family. We found out on Christmas Eve, my whole outlook on life changed within minutes as I knew I had to get a proper structure in place to ensure that I can get a proper balance and can be as relaxed as possible for Laura over the next coming months.

So now I go to work at least an hour early each day to ensure I can catch up on all my emails and get all my tasks actioned before the team turn up to make sure I am available in the day for meetings and any things that crop up (it’s never a dull day in the office at GripIt). Doing this I am always on top of things daily and although I check my emails on an evening I know I don’t have to action them, as I will be in early and get everything done the next day. It has completely transformed my life and I am even now managing to fit three personal training sessions in each week which is another thing I needed to do in advance of becoming a dad, getting fit.

But now I have most weekends free to spend quality time with Laura, family and friends, I can relax, knowing  everything is on track and come Monday morning I will have an hour or two to deal with any emails I received over the weekend.

It’s important to get the work and personal balance right from the start to help control when and what to do at the right times and not forgetting the special things in life.

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Plusnet Pioneers Funding Panel Discussion

On the 8th of March 2016, I was invited to take part in the Plusnet Pioneers panel discussion in partnership with StartUps, giving advice and our experience on sourcing funding, which took place at the Custard Factory in Birmingham.


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Working with an Entrepreneur

Now some may find it odd when they hear someone say, “I work for Jordan Daykin, 21 at GripIt® Fixings”. It may just be the age thing that really stands out. But I’m sure if you asked any of the staff, what’s it like working with an entrepreneur? Everything they say will be positive. So, we have done exactly that, asked the question!

The GripIt® business is Jordan’s bread and butter. He has worked hard to get the business to where it is today and has every intention to continue working hard to further grow the business. He has a very relaxed approach as long as the work is done. The team love a good celebration and achieving the impossible and Jordan is the person who encourages this.

When speaking to Shelly an Account Manager at GripIt® she said Jordan has an incredible CAN DO attitude about life. Always pushing forward to succeed. I have worked for inventors in the past but non-have had the drive and determination to get their product out to the world with such success. He has an open-door policy which creates an environment that allows ideas from all members of the team to flow freely. People always ask me what it’s like to work for someone that’s nearly half my age. I can honestly say that age has never bothered me. He is not someone who discriminates against age either and will give everyone a chance to succeed where ever he can. One thing I will say to watch about Jordan is that he is extremely generous and likes to see people have fun so if you’re out at an office party beware of the flowing drinks.”

The team are encouraged to give ideas and to knock on the door if they ever need to chat. As Shelly mentioned above, the team at GripIt® like to get together outside of work and have a close relationship outside of working hours. Many social events take place throughout the year including cocktail evenings, meals, going to the local pub after work and BBQ’s at the head office/factory.

Jordan loves to be involved with meetings, events, shows or whatever goes on with the business, it’s great that all the team bring their ideas to the table and most of the time are put into play. When Jordan gets involved it inspires others and they revel in the fact their CEO of the business is so motivating. However even though Jordan is still very involved, he lets the team make decisions they feel are correct and get on with what they need to, whether you’re a director, manager or the team.

We also spoke to Nicky who has worked with the company for a few years now who said “Working at GripIt® is my first time working with an entrepreneur, so I don’t really have anything to gauge it against other than having a manager. In my varied career, I have had bosses that fall under categories of the good, bad and ugly, however none of them compare to working for / with a driven and highly motivated entrepreneur! The immediate thing that stands out to me is feeling included and valued. Every member of staff has a voice and input. This is then followed by drive! I have never felt so driven to succeed and do the best I can. Working for the best makes me want to be better at my job, each and every day. This feeling is infectious within the entire company. Finally, I would suggest that one of the key reasons entrepreneurs succeed is that they take calculated risks and step outside of their comfort zone. I know that in the 2 years I have worked for GripIt® I have been pushed outside of my comfort zone on so many occasions, that today I can honestly say that I thrive on tackling a new challenge, stepping over that line, has made me more confident in my own ability and fuels my determination to succeed. None of which would have happened if I had not been included, inspired and praised by our young entrepreneur.”

Jordan is explained as inspiring and motivating which drives the team forward making them want to achieve their goals and push themselves to perform to the best of their ability. I think all the team can honestly say Jordan is a great inspiration to others and has achieved so much in his lifetime already. Which definitely encourages everyone else.

Lastly Mac who is our production coordinator and has been working for the company from the get go, in fact he was one of the 4 friends who made GripIt’s® around the dining room table with Jordan and is also a close friend, Mac said “Working for a young entrepreneur is great for many reasons! They bring fresh new ideas into the team, solving problems just by looking at things from a different prospective. Team building exercises are also a lot more exciting when hosted by a young entrepreneur they tend to involve more up to date social activities. You tend to find that you have more in common with a young entrepreneur than you normally would, making it easier to socialise with them. Young entrepreneurs are never too busy to listen to new ideas and concepts.”

There is a definite common theme repeated in all of the GripIt® staff comments about Jordan, he quite clearly inspires all the staff, resulting in them working hard to achieve their goals. They want to be successful and seeing Jordan achieve what he has, at such a young age makes them believe in themselves, pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone and giving them confidence they thought they would never have. They also feel that Jordan has an open door and no matter what they need to discuss with him, he is always there to listen, whether that’s new ideas, new products, social events or even general information.

Lastly, I think it has also been pointed out that Jordan knows how to have fun and a laugh without taking it to far, and likes to see everyone happy and enjoying themselves.

Well now you know what it’s like to work with an entrepreneur and according to team GripIt®, it is an adventure!

For media enquiries please email press@jordandaykin.co.uk  

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Jordan Daykin Announced as Forbes 30 Under 30 Industry Honouree in Europe

It was announced on Monday 16th of January that Jordan had been included in the popular American magazine Forbes. He was named as one of the 30 under 30 industry honouree in Europe

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A Letter to the 30 Year Old Me

So here it goes I’ve decided to write a letter (in a blog) to the 30-year-old me. In 9 years time, I will stumble across it to see if what I have written in the letter adds up or if was completely different. However, I strive to achieve to my dreams and hope this letter proves that.

GripIt Fixings

Unit C1 – C3 Ashville Centre

Commerce Way

Melksham

Wiltshire

SN12 6ZE

Dear Jordan,

 I guess your reading this letter now as your 30! Hope you had a great birthday, wow the big 3 0… getting old now!

 I would say I would have come a long way from being the 13-year-old boy who dropped out of school at 12 with no grades to my name but made an invention in the garden shed with my Grandad to now 30 years old running a global company that is a household name and a well established brand internationally. A brand of products known by all for being the best products on the market since sliced bread for the solutions they solve. I’d be so proud to say that I have grown a business from such a young age and made it a great success. I would feel like a well established entrepreneur with a proven track record that everyone takes seriously. It would have been a challenge growing = business to where it is now but something I would have preserved with and it would have worked well. I would love the fact that I would have proved people wrong with how far the business has come and me as a person.

 Now that you are 30 I guessed I’d be relaxing and enjoying a bit of downtime… however, when you’re running a global business and conquering the world it’s not that easy. My mind has always been on overload thinking what I can do next or how can it be done better and I don’t think that will ever stop. I now have a range of products that are a great success in their own right and the business just keeps growing and growing year on year. I would thrive on the achievement and would continue as always to push me harder to do something else/something new. I would have a strong structure within the business of staff in which will have been with me from the early stages and have developed with the business as its grown. When I was 21 me and Laura got engaged after a few years we are finally married with kids. At 30 I didn’t realise how hectic your life would get however, I’m not sure if it’s the same for other 30 year olds out there. It’s been very busy but I love being busy and full of energy, it drives me through the tough times or challenges that come along.

 When I write to myself again it will be just after I have read this letter, meaning I would be 30 writing to my 60-year-old self! Before doing that I hope that the company has continued to grow at a rapid pace and as for me I would love to have been able to continue inspiring others and hopefully be able to semi retire at some point. I would also like to have taken the kid to Lapland and Disneyland Florida. But I can’t imagine that just yet. I wonder if I would still be driving round in my dream car or if I would be chasing another dream?

 Anyway enjoy and stay well, talk again in the future.

 Your Sincerely

jd-sig

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