Going from Premiership football to Managing Director of a digital marketing agency may not be the most conventional career choice, but the lessons I learned during my sports career has really helped me make a successful business. I was a professional footballer for 11 years, and during that time I learned a lot about what it takes to be a good leader. I’ve been managed by footballing greats like Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Ruud Gullit and Bobby Robson – all brilliant managers. They taught me to put people first, and that’s the approach I’ve taken with CandidSky. Rather than putting the technology of my business first, clients and the CandidSky team are my top priority. It’s all about getting the right people – people power technology, not the other way round.
The biggest challenge for me is probably the constant flux of new technology – it changes almost weekly! Significant changes happen often, and the pace of the industry is fast, so it’s important to keep up to speed and make the most of all the opportunities we’re given. We all keep up with these changes through reading industry news and blogs, attending conferences, making connections and having internal discussions.
Another issue I’ve found is related to hiring. As I’ve said, technology moves extremely fast, so you need to know the (sometimes very niche) skills that are needed before you can hire someone. Luckily, my people-centric approach makes this much easier. I hire people with the right mentality – which means they’re able to change and evolve with the technology, developing new skills as they’re needed.
Owning any business is fulfilling and enjoyable, and CandidSky is no different. I love having control over my time, and the flexibility this provides means I can work in the office, at home, in a coffee shop or on the train. My family are really important to me, and this flexibility allows me to spend a lot of time with them. This is something I like to extend to the whole team.
I also get to meet a lot of interesting, creative people who I can collaborate with. We have a lot of connections with other small agencies, and talking to them is great for learning and progressing.
The best part of owning a digital agency is probably seeing the impact we have on businesses. We work with a huge range of clients (from small businesses to blue chip clients) who all have different aims and goals. Seeing these businesses grow so substantially with our help is very rewarding.
As I’ve said, the industry is always evolving, and I think as a whole we’re moving towards a world where it’s much easier to action marketing. More and more tools are being developed that allow us to implement our ideas easier and quicker. I’m interested in seeing how this develops.
No matter how the landscape changes, however, I want to make sure that CandidSky is always about people and personal relationships. We have a strong, tight-knit team, which is a huge contributing factor to our success. It’s rewarding for me and for every member of the team, and will always be my main focus.
Do you have any questions or comments about my approach to business? Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.