These 7 tips could make the difference between your start-up thriving or failing
David Grimes co-founded multi-award winning My Parcel Delivery in 2010 and recently launched a new venture. Here are his essential business lessons
David Grimes has come to be a disruptive force in the courier industry.
Having launched My Parcel Delivery in June 2010 with Paul Haydock (who exited in 2013), the Manchester-based entrepreneur has seen his online courier comparison business achieve impressive growth following million-pounds worth of investment.
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With partnerships with leading brands such as ParcelForce, Hermes and DPD, My Parcel Delivery is undoubtably a start-up success story – it even took the top spot in the 2013 Startups 100 index – and Grimes is now looking to emulate this success with his new SaaS delivery management venture Electio.
At a recent event hosted by disruptive law firm LHS Solicitors LLP, Grimes took to the stage to share experiences and insights from his business journey so far.
From trusting other people with his ‘baby’ to motivating staff with share options, read on for the seven essential tips Grimes thinks all budding entrepreneurs need to know in order to build a successful business…
1. Be persistent
“I’m 33, I’ve never had a job – I started my first company straight out of university and never looked back. It was tough because all my friends were bankers and lawyers, and there’s me sat at home at my parents trying to start a company.
“I spent six months getting the phone slammed down on me and hearing lots of ‘nos’ which is quite hard when all your friends are doing really well in the City. It’s quite easy at that point to just give up, hang your boots up and think I tried but it hasn’t worked. But I think it’s that persistence that really makes an entrepreneur; you don’t take no for an answer and keep going. You have to have that belief in your idea and keep striving. You have to know what really drives you, luckily I made the right decision and that first business grew and did really well.
“Are entrepreneurs born? I don’t think they are, I think you’re born with qualities that enable you to become an entrepreneur – persistence, perseverance, believing in yourself and your idea and the courage to see it through as people will tell you ‘you’re mad’ and ‘that will never work’. When I first started the company, I was told ‘how are you going to start a company with no money?’ and I was £10,000 in university debt so it was quite a challenge. But, you make it happen and you believe in what you’re doing.”
2. Build a great team around you
“At [MPD Group] we’ve grown aggressively in five years but we’ve only managed that because of the team I have around me. You can’t substitute a great team, it’s changed my life as we’ve grown and hired really great people.”
3. Don’t be afraid to let go of your ‘baby’
“It’s the hardest thing to do; to let go when you’ve started a company as it’s your baby and you’ve put everything into it and risked everything.
“You’ll often find that a lot of entrepreneurs can’t get to that point where they let go and it really holds them back. A big piece of advice I always say is to build a really strong team around you and then let go. My marketing director knows 10-fold more about marketing than I do so I let her go and do it. Letting go allows you to take a helicopter view […] and then guide and lead rather than manage.”
4. Hire staff based on your company culture and brand values
“I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way and burned through lots of cash which is painful but it’s the best way to learn lessons. I’ve hired the wrong people as well which is never good.
“I’ve found that if you hire someone that doesn’t match your organisation or culture then they’re not good people to have in your business. We now hire and fire on culture and values, and I’m not afraid to say that because it really does make a difference. We wouldn’t be where we are today without it and the people that have helped us [get there].”
5. Invest in a business mentor and get expert advice
“Surround yourself with great people but not just staff, get a mentor. I’ve had a mentor pretty much all the way through which has been a great inspiration and help for me. I’ve also utilised the non-execs on our board, they can make an extreme impact so don’t be afraid to surround yourself with talented people.”
6. Be open to change
“Don’t be afraid to pivot. You can’t have a business plan and follow it to a ‘t’, things will change. You have to be willing and able to adapt. It’s really important to be able to adjust.”
7. Incentivise your staff
“Lastly, reward your staff. All my executive team have got share options in the business because it’s really important to motivate them. And what better way to motivate your team, by helping them share in your vision and what you’re doing.”