It has been a busy, challenging but ultimately, a very rewarding time since I launched GEST. I also read somewhere recently that 30% of all private companies fail within two years of launching so we are already over that hurdle. There’s a lot to be proud of as GEST has grown in both size, stature and the number of clients that we have been able to help – in a busy and established market. However, the purpose of this blog is not to slap myself on the back. It is to share some of the things I have learned as a new business owner over the last 24 months, to offer some tips and advice for anyone who is considering doing the same in 2023. There are plenty of things that people don’t tell you when you are starting up your own business, that’s for sure!
YOU HAVE TO BE CRUEL TO BE KIND
Everyone thinks their product should and will sell better and faster than their competitors. Everyone loves their own company and product and they have clear bias towards what they offer. Of course, that’s human nature. Our job at GEST is to realign expectations by telling them things they don’t necessarily want to hear or agree with straightaway - but, that honesty is part of what we do. Especially if we are to build an open and transparent relationship, which I believe is crucial to a successful partnership in business.
FOUNDERS AND CEOS ARE VERY DIFFERENT
Working for yourself and running your own business is not for everyone. If you look at the stresses involved, they are very different from being an employee. As a result, people tend to think that founders and CEOs have certain characteristics to want to run their own business and there is no doubt that they do. However, it’s also important to realise that they are each very different as well.
GEST founder and CEO, Danny Yeow
Only when you start working with people do you realise why they are a founder/CEO and why their business is like it is. It takes time to understand them but time that you must invest to learn how they work and how they go about their business.
EXPECT LATE PAYMENTS
Sadly, this is something that I had not even considered when starting my own business. Some people don’t pay their bills on time and some of them, don’t pay at all.
I could name and shame them but that’s not us. Education is a small world, built on reputation and trust – so those that ignore contracts, will probably struggle anyway. When you come from a corporate background, you get your wage packet on time every month. When you run your own business, you are not an employee, you are just a bill. As a result, you have to learn to manage your cash flow better, whether you like it or not.
BE PRECIOUS WITH YOUR TIME
I have also learned that you have to be precious with your time. Doing more is not always better for you. As they say, you cannot fill from an empty cup and there have been times where I have worked myself to the bone – unsustainably and to the detriment of my health. As GEST has progressed, I have learned that it is not about doing things for the money, it’s about doing the right things for the right people. Working silly hours is not good for me, my clients, or the business – and so I have needed to set some boundaries. That’s why it’s so good to have be joined by extra members of the GEST team.
GET SOME SUPPORT WHEN YOU CAN
I am pleased to say that GEST Consultancy is not just me anymore. We have a number of consultants who have joined the business and they are crucial to both our growth…and my sanity! Greg Martin, as an international school specialist lead, has great insight and network in Asia and around the world, whilst we also have Martin Creevy who is our HE and FE specialist for the UK and Europe.
Joining the GEST team is Lee Sadler We have also brought in Lee Sadler who is currently helping with our work in the UK, whilst another consultant is joining us soon to cover Latin America. I’ll tell you more about those guys another time. So here’s to 2023. I’ll enter it with a nicely-established business and will be driven to provide a first-class service for current and new clients alike. Crucially, I have some support from a team that seriously knows the education sector and that is really important. And I enter the New Year knowing that I have learned some big lessons that will stand GEST in good stead for 2023 and beyond.
Read more: Meet the GEST Consultancy team