Sky Sports' Alex Payne shares 12 lessons learnt during his startup's first year

Josh Peachey's picture

Creating a successful business is far from easy and it's often said that more than half of new businesses fail during the first year. 

Alongside his Sky Sports presenting career, Alex Payne recently decided to start an influencer marketing platform after spotting 'a gap in the market'. 

After only 12 months doing business, 'The Influence Room' has grown into an exclusive members-only online community where Influencers and brands build relationships.

Alex told Prolific London that before launching, he had spent a whole year with co-founder Tanya Hamilton-Smith researching the industry in order to give them a strong footing for launch. 

There were, however, things that they were only going to learn once the business was up and running. Here, Alex shares 12 important lessons he's learnt during the company's first 12 months...

 

Remind yourself to enjoy it. ’This is the fun bit’
To bastardise an old proverb ‘The journey is often more enjoyable than the destination.’  I repeat this on an almost daily basis, for reassurance.

No one is going to do it but yourself.
It is tempting when you begin to get traction, to look around for a guru to pick it up and run with it.  You’ll be waiting a while.  Plenty of people will look over the fence and admire, but you’re the only one who’s going to make it happen.  Certainly in the early days.

Don’t be afraid to chase -if you don’t ask, you don’t get
But try and put a little character into your follow-ups.  People are inundated every day, give them a personal reason to say ‘Ok, I’ll listen.'

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t stop learning, reading, networking etc.
When the speed increases, this is often the first thing to go.  But often it is what gives you the fastest progress.  Give yourself targets.

Investors talk a big game until you call on them for a cheque.
Halve what you’re promised and double the time it takes.  Also, subscribe to the adage that if you ask for investment, you’ll get advice and if you ask for advice, you’ll get investment.  Fundraising is a job on a job.

You’ll be surprised how often something falls from the stars - a deal, an employee, an idea or an opportunity.
And it feels bloody great when it does.  Keep the faith.

Yes often means no, particularly when it comes to potential clients.
We’ve had done deals that never end up happening, and meetings we thought were a waste of time that turn out to be our most lucrative.  Wish I could tell you why.  I have no idea.

Listen, listen and listen again.
It's tempting to eulogise about your product or service but listening will always make what you say more relevant.

Don’t leap into bed with the first investor - desperation is a dangerous thing.
Get your terms right.  And I mean spot on.  And if things change, don’t be afraid to walk away.  10 steps back is often better than one step forward; it might be that one step takes you off a cliff.

Celebrate the victories; even the tiny ones
The road is often bumpy in a startup and celebrating the small successes has the biggest impact on everyone in the team; remember to make time for it….
Take time out - it can be all consuming and definitely celebrate as you go.  A day to work from home or an early Friday finish is an easy little win.

Don’t get easily distracted. People will ask you to do things which you think will serve your business, but are actually dragging you off course.
I still battle with this on an almost daily basis, but keep your focus on the main to-do list.

Tension is inevitable, but don’t let it last.
Clean the slate at the start and end of every day.  Put fire into it in between.