3 May 2015
Why do some businesses stay the test of time and weather the storm while others boom and bust?
It’s a question that, as business owners, we all strive to answer. What is that secret ingredient to achieving long term success, the magic wand you can wave to keep your head above water throughout the challenges that will invariably come your way?
Throughout our journey with UKFast, we have always taken time to pause and look back to where we came from. It’s almost like climbing a mountain where along the way little piles of rocks are stacked like triangles. Sometimes called ‘cairns’, they remind you of your progress as you move forward. It’s at these points where you can turn around and take in the view.Reflecting on the view of our journey so far, it’s interesting to see how much we’ve changed shape, yet we’re still doing business with the same types of people as when we first started out.
Over the years we’ve ventured into so many different areas; ADSL, an online payment gateway – we even became the fastest supplier of Orange mobile phones at one point. Now we’ve moved into things like cloud and cyber security to name but a few.
So, what’s more important, the product or the brand?
Personally, I would always argue that it’s the brand that makes the business. When you’re building a brand, you create your core values, your mission statement and your purpose. It’s a blueprint of how you do business, and ultimately that’s the single most important thing. It reflects who you are as a team, whereas a product is something that can come and go and evolve.
However, I don’t think your brand is something that should be switched on and off as it has to be on all the time for you to gather forward momentum.
This is why, when you’re in a position of management, it’s so important to ensure the brand is protected. You may have a secondary product that becomes your main product, but you must always remain true to your purpose.
What will UKFast be doing twenty years from now? It’s an interesting question and there are plenty of options. Personally, I think we’ll still be involved in the infrastructure side of hosting, but it’s not the only thing we’ll be doing. I don’t want to reveal exactly where we’re going though, as that’s part of the excitement. This is why I’m not really a fan of the question: “What’s your exit strategy?”Some of my friends laugh at me and comment that I’ll never be able to let go of UKFast because I love it so much, and in many ways, they’re right. It’s a colossal part of our lives, and has generated so many incredible friendships and experiences. Why would I want to spend any time thinking about what my exit strategy might be?
Whilst our products are different from the ones we had in 1999, our brand is still made up of the same core people and values. Anyone can build their own business – all you need is a telephone, a phone book and a pen!
Many people talk about starting their own business, yet few take the plunge. Of the ones that do, even fewer actually succeed long term. Why? They put too much focus on the product and not enough on the brand itself. That’s the vehicle that’s going to strengthen and protect your products and your customers. It’s the essential ingredient to keep you agile, to win people’s hearts and minds and help you stand the test of time.
Always remember: not everything that counts can be counted. Sometimes it’s the things you can’t see that make the biggest difference of all.
Look before you jump!