For those that do not know Barnaby Lashbrooke is a UK based entrepreneur and a very interesting guy. By the age of 28 he had already sold a domain selling company for a multi million pound sum after growing it from nothing to 24,000 members with just £150 startup money. Currently he runs a series of companies under the Brainy brand which handle business, personal tasks and errands for various business executives. An outsourced concierge or PA if you will, with all staff being based in the UK. Again a business he started from nothing but has grown to handle over 20,000 tasks a month.
He is also a father to an 8 week old baby girl. Having been interviewed numerous times for online and print media and perhaps having enduring 8 weeks of sleepless nights, he still found space for me to take one hour of his time to offer advice on my brand new startup – Wewana:Play .
Here are 5 interesting lessons that I took away from my discussion with Barnaby:
1) If you doing something unique and new then expect to fail often on your way to success
Barnaby has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, something shown by the fact that at the age of eight he pimped out his family pond at £1 a time to anyone that wanted to practice fishing. He had numerous adventures in business all through his teens before he found success. Yet when I asked him how often he had experienced failure he replied with ‘every day’.
He told me not to be scared of failure but to accept that when you push boundaries you are going to do a lot of things wrong. You job is to keep listening and making correction because just one little change can be the difference between success and failure. You never have to get everything right, you just have to get the one thing right that matters. That is why failure is never a big problem as you are only one small change away from success. Your job is just to try to work out what that change may be.
2) If you fail to keep it simple you will just confuse your customers
Sometimes you can provide everything you want to provide and think your service is ace, yet when you put it in front of a consumer they simply do not get it.
It’s important to do something very simple when you start and then add extra services when your customers get used to it. It makes it much easier to digest and much easier to explain what you do. Barnaby found success with one of his businesses when he actually reduced the number of services he offered.
Sometimes doing less can mean doing more. A big lesson I took away from my time with Barnaby.
3) Bootstrapping is essential. You will need money to stop you wasting time worrying about money.
Bootstrapping implies that your business runs on profits and not on debt or loans. You may have to take a part-time job whilst you start your business or you may have to look to make profits fast but not putting yourself in debt is important to maintain efficiency.
Borrowing money is not always bad, but worrying about it all the time is. It will ruin your productivity and always put your focus towards your money issues rather than on your business.
I was encouraged to find a way to keep the money ticking so that we could concentrate fully on your business. It’s better to take a little time away on something that brings in money then spending full-time concentrating on how your end your debt woes. No need to jump in head first, especially in this climate.
4) Know how to grow your customers via paid methods that are scalable.
Almost every business Barnaby had or has makes it own success through paid methods. He is often features in the media but he firmly believes that his businesses do well because he puts his money in the right places.
Too many companies rely on free or very cheap methods to attain success. Of course in very few cases this will work, but unless you have a marketing method that bring in more money then you spend, then you have very few options to maintain your business momentum.
Think carefully about your sales funnel using marketing methods that you can control. Relying on people to mention you or promote you may be a recipe for disaster. Be prepared to put money into methods that work.
5) Being successful does not mean you have to forget being human.
It was very refreshing to see just how down to earth Barnaby is. A young polite and well mannered man, who showed such humility during our conversation despite already doing so well in life.
Barnaby is seen by many to be very successful, he did sell his last business for millions, yet Barnaby always compares himself to people much more successful then himself. He feels there is a lot more for himself to achieve and a lot of lessons that he is still learning. When I even called him successful, he shrugged it off and suggested he hadn’t achieved what he believes was success.
He is a living example that success does not have to make you arrogant. I’m sure he enjoys many more luxuries in life then most, but his gentle nature would have you mistaken about just how much he has achieved.
It was great to meet Barnaby and be reminded of business lessons from a successful entrepreneur. It was also great to know that you can still make a successful business in an economic downturn and that too in my current city of Birmingham UK.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I take away is in the way Barnaby has grown his businesses from nothing into having thousands of clients. Quite often I have relied on affiliates and third parties to spread my messages, but I see clearly how I must take control of my marketing and be responsible for spreading the message too. This is a major lesson for me and something I will think hard about in all future ventures,