10 Years in Business – How I got it wrong

Ayd Instone Waterstock

One of my early promo photos... One of them looks a bit wooden, with ginger hair and the other one's a rocking horse.

There are many things I feel I’ve done right:

• Investing in the right equipment to speed up processes and quality.

• Not employing people but having strategic partners and suppliers to provide extra resources and skills as and when I needed them.

• Not wasting money on advertising but heavily investing in networking and teaming up with numerous people and opportunities that came from them.

• Outsourcing certain processes and marking up some of them as added services to clients.

• I’ve kept the business flexible and specialised in what I offer but not been too restrictive on the sectors I’ve worked for. This has paid off recently as some clients have seriously reduced their spending but other have not. I’m still here because I didn’t put all my eggs in one basket.

• Investing in personal business development to make me better at all aspects of what I do from the technical skills, to business skills to people skills.

But there are a fair few things I’ve done wrong:

• Not thinking big enough. There have been times when modesty should have been replaced with confident assurance. Opportunities were missed.

• Staying too local for too long. Today we can be either super-local and have that as a USP (Unique Strategic Positioning) or we can be global. There is no such thing as semi-regional or semi-national. It took me a long time to realise this. I’ve since worked with companies that are walking distance away as well as ones in Africa, America and Asia.

• Getting bogged down within projects and letting my own marketing slip and be too sporadic. It’s the old trap of the rise and fall of looking for work, then doing the work, then having no work so starting to look again. Marketing should be continuous and we all need to create systems to ensure that.

• Not being consistent in collecting testimonials. I’ve had some big name clients who I’ve worked for who’s endorsement would have opened up similar doors elsewhere. Sometimes I simply didn’t ask so didn’t get.

But the biggest mistake, which in effect encompasses all of those above is one that is so hard to get right as all instincts fight to prevent it happening and that is to say no to somethings so there’s more room to say yes to the right things. When you run you’re own business, especially at the start or when things get tight, we tend to say ‘yes’ to everything and anything. This has been the cause of most stress and the cause of reduced profits. Annoying clients, fiddly time consuming low grade jobs, unclear briefs and in some cases inappropriate jobs slightly outside of my expertise all take their toll on confidence, time, your brand and your profits. We often forget that we’re in control and can say no when it’s right to do so.

So there you have it. Hopefully you won’t make as many mistakes as that, but if you are working for yourself or embarking upon it soon, take heart that it is the most rewarding and exciting journey and I wish you every success.

Perhaps we can even work together on something one day.

Book Ayd to speak about Creativity and Innovation Mind-flow at your event.
For more interesting info see:



One comment on “10 Years in Business – How I got it wrong

  1. Ayd, I’m sure many entrepreneurs make the same “mistakes” and don’t learn from them. You clearly have.

    Thinking big and saying no are key learnings. There is a quote from Steve Jobs ex CEO of Apple along the lines of “What I am most proud of at Apple is the things we said no too”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s