The Concept of ‘Escaping Gravity’ in your business

…and why I started this publication

The hardest part of reaching space is escaping gravity. That invisible force that keeps us on the ground, looking at the stars.

Starting a business is much like escaping gravity. In order to succeed you will need to escape gravity.

The ‘gravity’ will be different for each person, different for each company.

Your gravity could be a lack of funding or the number of competitors in your space. It may be your perceived lack of experience, credibility or even your own confidence.

To succeed, you will need to overcome that gravitational pull.

How I escaped gravity

In 1996/’97 I was one of the first people to buy online advertising in the UK. I think I was 22 and by all accounts a newbie in the established world of advertising agencies. With some great support I created a revenue stream for the agency [from online advertising] and gave them an other point of difference in a fiercely competitive London market.

I wanted a better job and better money so I looked around at other agencies. Many ‘experts’ and peers told me I shouldn’t expect a better job or pay because I was so young and inexperienced. That ‘gravity’ could have kept me where I was, but I worked hard to grow my experience and reputation which landed me a new job, and then another great position.

Roll onto 1999 and I decided to co-found my own digital marketing agency. I wanted to do it with no funding and move it to Ipswich (a small town 100 miles from London.) We started with a handful of clients and my industry profile.

We had much gravity to overcome:

  1. A new startup vs emerging digital departments of major agencies.
  2. The lack of credibility not being based in London.
  3. Potential lack of funding/backup if it failed.
  4. A collapsed market (the first dotcom boom went spectacularly bust at the end of 1999.)

But I did have things in my favour:

i. The best business partner anyone could wish for.

ii. An established reputation (or personal brand if you wish to call it that.)

iii. A handful of clients who believed in me.

So, we launched on December 8th 1999. By late 2000 we had a new office, a few staff and a great collection of [mainly] travel brands.

An early version of our website. Thanks to the Wayback Machine!

On 9/11 we watched in horror as the towers came down. We closed the office and told the team to go home and be with their loved ones.

Selfishly, we thought of the business, the travel industry was to be hit hard by these attacks. Less people wanted to travel meaning travel brands paused their ad spend, the revenue on which we earend our commission.

Gravity was bringing us back to earth.

But we kept pushing. We supported our clients and helped them return to the market with confidence. We kept pushing the agency, growing our business clients and team. Our first inclining that gravity was leaving us came when we featured in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 2005, as one of the UK’s fastest growing privately owned Tech Companies.

We were in Tech Track 100 again, in 2016.

In 1999 we started the business with a £5,000 overdraft. In 2007 we sold the agency. The agency was fully owned by the co-founders, Katherine and I and our key team.

After the succesful exit we built up www.birdsonganalytics.com to be the world’s leading ‘Pay as you Go’ social analytics platform. Again, with no funding and with major global competitors. We also mentor other founders needing help to escape their own gravity

Escaping your own gravity

Escaping Gravity isn’t easy. For anyone or any business to succeed they must first identify the gravitational pull and then set to work escaping it.

I have started this publication to share thoughts on how you could escape gravity and what I have learnt and continue to learn along the way. I can’t promise the silver bullet to success, but at the very least I hope you find the odd nugget or value or comfort.

So, what is your gravity?

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