Blagging it in the Beginning with Luke Mead from LMS Group | Business Survival Livestream 017

Simon is joined by Luke Mead, founder and CEO of LMS Group as he tells his story of creating his business and reveals the biggest mistakes businesses make and how to avoid them. LMS Group –


Note: This transcription has been generated with AI and there may be errors present. 


Write the red button. If you can see the red button in your top left hand corner Luke, that means that we’re actually live on Facebook. No one’s watching just yet. So I’m going to waffle for a few seconds, make sure that neither of us say anything too abusive to each other. And then we’ll just just have a few seconds for folks to join us on my screen. It’s brilliant to see you, Luke, thanks so much for joining us. And look, it’s cool because we only we only met we’ve never met in person we only met online a few days ago when they the marvellous mechanical mouse organ that is John card sort of hooked us up and we had that great conversation last week. So thank you so much for jumping on the live stream with us tonight and and for the knowledge that you’re about to share and the things that I’m about to make you reveal. I thank you

say that you’re not the last.

How’s things going, Luke? Whereabouts are you in the world tonight?

I am in a little town called Arinto in West Sussex, right down on the south coast smack bang in between Brighton and Portsmouth

beautiful part of the world. Yeah, I’m Do you live in the castle? Look,

I don’t know. I’ve got a little office down the end of my garden where I am now.

Fantastic. Fantastic. So the just we’re just jumping on now with a few folks. We’ve got some lovely faces from the pop up business school world that joined us. Just going to give a couple of shout outs. It’s great to see, John’s joined us, Russell who’s head of electricity for the whole of Kent. We’ve got Mr. Khan, Casey from Didcot to raise. Great to see you here, Casey, two races here. And we’ve got Jim here, Chad’s watching from the USA, Laura’s watching from Wales, we’ve got like a good spread of folk from across the, across the country and across the world. And you’re a musician like because I’m a musician, join us you into music,

do you know more or listen to music asked me to play an instrument give up.

We’ve got all of it after darks just joined us. He’s head of drumming for the entire of the south coast. So we’ve got some cool folks that are joining us and look for the people that are just joining. I’d like to welcome Luke Meade, who is the founder and CEO of the LMS group, which I’ll let him introduce the company properly in a second. But Luke and I met last week, we’re gonna dive into a bunch of stuff that will include starting a business at the age of 15. So if anyone’s watching that you’ve got kids, teenage kids or kids that have just left their teenage years, that are struggling for a bit of direction, and that maybe you want to inspire them to start a business, then we’re going to hear from Luke and Luke’s particular story, because it’s absolutely fascinating to find out how he started his first business at 15. So we’re going to dive into that. We’re going to talk about starting a business, growing a business, making lots of mistakes, making even more mistakes, getting it right accidentally getting it right on purpose, and how to cope how an entrepreneur copes and thinks about the times that we’re in at the moment. And then I reckon we could probably push on through to dawn with that subject matter loop. But we’ll stop at 10. So folks, please can you interact with this post? Please, can you share this post, because the stuff that we’re going to chat about tonight is going to be helpful for you. And it’s going to be helpful for lots of people as well. So as you know, we post this on the pop up Business School Survival Guide, Jack’s gonna stick the link at the bottom. He’s also going to stick a link to LMS group, which I think LMS group LMS dot group is your email your website, isn’t it? Yeah. Cool. I was just looking up here. You’ve got a very handsome looking team on top row that I’ve just gotten. So Luke, welcome from sunny Arundel. Let’s start let’s start at the end rather than the beginning. So how Slifer LMS Group? Tell us a little bit about your business and what things have been like for you since the start March?

No worries. So yeah, a bit about my business. We provide outsourced IT solutions, telephone solutions, cybersecurity solutions to midsize companies. Well, I say around the UK, we’ve got clients internationally. And then that could be everything from my printers broken help all the way through to large systems, one of our clients, for instance, still sort of the printing for McDonald’s. So managing their system. So if that start to break, there’s a lot of hungry people around the UK. And so yeah, it’s quite diverse. And since the first of March, whenever it was, it’s lost me. I’ve been lost with the whole situation. I don’t even though update is at the minute. It’s been business as usual. Truth be told, and we’ve been a bit quiet recently. Obviously, with people being off on furlough requests coming into archives Today have died down. But yeah, we’ve we’ve used the opportunity to actually bring forward some projects internally and make full use of the team. So yeah, I’ve used it as a opportunity really to get our foundations in place. So we can come at the end of differentiate against our competition. So yeah, it’s cool. So far, good fun. Especially you’re working from home like, Oh, my God, I really miss the interaction with the rest of the team.

Yes. I like that. Because I know that she can’t hear you because she’s in the house that tell her that you missing being with the team? That’d be my, my top tip of the day.

Yeah, I’m missing the videotape at the office.

I think you should go into the office and go and get

my colleague Chris, he’s got triplets. And they’re six? No, they’re seven months old. Now. He’s the only one working out of the office. We’re all working from separate locations that there’s no way I’m working from home. So God bless him. He’s there keeping the fall.

Like I’m absolutely in awe of what you’ve achieved. We have it at this conversation last week. That, you know, I know that it’ll be a surprise to everybody watching a big shock to everybody on them that I’m actually nearly 46 years old. I know that I know that I’d be devastating to some that thought I was considered within that. But you’re 29 you’re running a company that’s selling over a few million, and you’ve got, you know, sort of 12 Odd members of staff. It makes me wonder what on earth I’ve been doing for the last 10 years? Like when When did when did it start to become, you know, a bigger operation for you? I’m going to do this a little bit unusually, I’m going to go backwards in time. All right, because we want to sort of draw out some of your learnings and how you think because I think it’s fascinating. When did you realise that you were in it for a growing a bigger business? How old were you when when you saw that coming?

Do you know what? I never saw it come in until I woke up one day. And I was like Christ, what’s just happened? So I think the weirdest thing Simon is, I never set out with a game plan or any serious goals. When I started the company, it was a hobby. And you know, I was just fixing PCs and having fun. And yeah, all of a sudden, it just got real. Christ. This is a this is happening. Just ran with it. So yeah, I in answer to your question, it just happened.

I love that. So that that was gives hope for all of us. Now, you’ve been very humble about this, Luke, I know that you might have put in a shift or two to make it happen. But I do I do get that sense, because I felt it shift under our feet a couple of times, I felt I sort of hit a different level. And there’s lots of hard work that goes behind the scenes. But where was your F? Where did you put your effort? That meant that you woke up one day, and the thing was, was was starting to take off? Where’s your energy and effort going?

Do you know, I think in terms of energy and effort, and that this is really bizarre you sound 29 years now I feel so old when I compare myself to that 15 year old lad. And I used to put in Christ 20 odd hours a day solidly. And I was just wired. And now if I do two consecutive late nights, I’m dead. So you know, back in those early days, I was just a machine I think you are when you’re younger. And then it really gave me a solid run. And all of a sudden before I knew about it, there was this momentum and it was just turning. So yeah, that was that was the big push the other person was around, you know, just getting the word out. And that, you know, predominantly did that through local networking and posting fliers through through letterboxes. So, yeah, it was that initial person getting it going. That was the hard graft. And that’s where all the effort went. And yeah, don’t get me wrong. It’s still a lot of effort. But I really look back and remember that time and I don’t think I can do again. Now.

The question like I was gonna ask folks that are watching. We’ve got Garrison here. I don’t know if you know, Gareth. Garris. Down from your neck of the woods. Yeah, LinkedIn, I’ve known Gareth, a lot of years actually, funnily enough. And garrison. It’s awesome. What you’ve what you’ve done to grow your business. And I think absolutely right. I was gonna invite anyone that’s watching to ask questions of Luke because we’ve got this one time opportunity of a young successful entrepreneur that has grown a business from the age of 15. From when he first started through to what he’s doing now. It’s an IT business. So please fire in your questions. Maybe it’s questions about what his successes are, where he thinks he might have made mistakes, what he would do differently next time. Whatever things trigger your mind. Let’s take an opportunity to dive into Luke’s brain. And in fact, we’re gonna we’re gonna soar off the top and get some information from you like, because I think what I picked up from our chat last week was that I can, you can spot an entrepreneur mile off and I’ve, I think I’m a bit of an imposter. Like I’m, I’m learned behaviour, I didn’t start until I was 30 and had sort of 10 years of mistakes before I started getting some results that I wanted. But you definitely think differently. And I think, for those, especially those that have got kids, they’ve got kids that are watching that want to inspire their kids into entrepreneurship. Let’s go back to the beginning. When you were at school, I’ve got a funny feeling. You weren’t the model student look.

I dare you to get a little share. I was so bored at school, it did not challenge me in any way, shape, or form. And yeah, not academic in any way. So yeah, you did have your model students, and then you. Yeah, it’s probably somewhere down here is the God’s honest truth.

So were you someone that was in trouble at school? Or are you just someone that was just disengaged and disinterested, or a bit of both?

bit of both. And I was in trouble because I was disengaged and disinterested. And, you know, school very much pigeon holed you and if you don’t fit that mould, you soon fall out or I felt as a as a student that I fell out the system. You know, I didn’t fit. Yeah, wasn’t that to drift school was great. But it Yeah, you’ve got the main bulk of bulk of students going off in the direction of right, we’re going on to further studies at college A levels, then we’re going to go to uni. And yeah, that just did not interest me one bit. So I felt lost.

So what happened? The what was the sort of turning point when you decided to you sort of found something that excited you that was outside of the education system? And you know, tell us about that. What happened when you first got something going what happened?

So I I was a closet nerd, I always swore that I’d never work in it. Because you know, it’s like you go to a party, and you’ll meet someone, and I never wanted to be that guy. So how Luke Hi, what do you do is I work in it because just conversation best humbly. And then yeah, I took me a while to come around to find actually I’m going to work in it. But yeah, well, I did. I started out closet nerd, great at fixing PCs, working with computers, working with computers, and would just fix family, friends, computers. And all of a sudden, I was that go to person. And I thought, Oh, hold on a minute. I was at the time, I had a part time job, a little cafe in Arundel. And every Saturday, I’d work and every Wednesday after school, and my life revolves around this gravy pot. I’ll tell you the story. So every Wednesday I used to get off the school bus and I’d like I’d hate it or dread it. Because it’s blooming gravy pot. No one wanted to wash it up from the Sunday service and no joke. It had about an inch thick of gravy on the bottom. It was disgusting. So yeah, that was my job on a Wednesday after school scrub this gravy pot clean. My hands would stink of gravy for like the next couple of days. It was a minion. And I’ve kind of had an epiphany Simon was like, you know, there’s a better thing. There’s a better way. And I had this talent and that talent was it it was computers. So I thought sod it. Let’s just give this a go. And yeah, like you said earlier on went into went into school and no joke. I reckon I printed off a 10,000 flyers but rinse the printer dry of all the toner and paper. And then yeah, over the course of a couple of weekends, every single house in our door had one of these flyers through their letterbox and it was our Fix UPC for a couple of quid I think time I tried to 30 pound an hour. Which when you’re 15 Yeah, I felt like gold. Yeah, yeah. And then all of a sudden the phone started ringing. And like I remember vividly, I got home from school one day and my mom. She’s like, Luke, a lady has left a voicemail and wants you to go and see what is going on. And yeah, went from there. So that was

it. Who gave you permission Luke? Permission to do what? To print flyers to go and sell.

No one myself.

So when your parents discovered that you got these, these older women that are ringing you asking you to go around their house now What was the thing? Because Because I remember you telling me last week, your parents aren’t entrepreneurs, are they? So it’s not like you had a sort of a model of entrepreneurship that you were following. You were kind of, you know, sort of breaking new ground as far as your close family was concerned. Is that right? Yeah.

Yeah. So my mum worked at a nursery school and my old man was a London firefighter. But yeah, I mean, to be honest, like, I wish I was half the man my dad is because he’s just such a grafter. And his whole life is just grafted for the sake of like me, my brother and my mom. Yeah, I think, you know, that’s probably where I got it from. He’s always had a huge work ethic. And growing up, kind of, yeah, saw that and subconsciously took it on.

Yeah. Nice. So me and my dad was a cop in Sussex, actually in, in Worthing, and Shoreham and exactly the same, you know, public sector background, but put in the shift and put in lots of hours. So I can relate to that a lot. And I’m interested, so, because a lot of people that come to pop up business schools and asked me, you know, for help with business, and that chat to Alan and seem, they always pricing is a big challenge. And I think people I mean, I did it myself when I started, you know, undercharging was, you know, I definitely undercharged for about three and a half, four years. Yeah, well, what what point in your brain as a 15 year old, did you have the audacity to go? Yes, 30 pounds, and I wasn’t even charging 30 pounds an hour as a 30 year old thinking, because I was a little bit too nervous about charging that amount of money. But what I’m curious about what went through your head,

I just made some phone calls to local computer shops and said, I’ve got a new PC how much you charge to set it up? Great offer on your back? And yes, mystery shop too. And, yeah, you say about undercharging. Like went along for a few years. And then all of a sudden I realised people are paying this. And they’re not even better and an eyelid. So rightly or wrongly, I just kept creeping up my prices until there’s a problem. And that’s kind of how you gauge your market is. Yeah, you know, push and push and push. And when you start seeing a problem, you know where your ceiling is.

So so you’re stuck all these fliers through people’s doors across our window, which I absolutely love, and the paper and the printer. Sorry, the photocopying wasn’t entirely yours. These are minor details. The the education system fully invested in a new and job creation. So it was a good investment that paper so let’s just go

with that. Yeah, tax man has got a big return on that. Do you remember

what results you got from the flyer drop?

No, but you know what, one thing that I remember. So I am I’d like a little trolley, and I made it out of a skateboard and a baby bath. And I put the flies in that and I was dragging it around. And then I posted this, this flyer through a letterbox and on this letterbox it said no, no circulars. And this woman right and miserable, miserable, miserable women. Like obviously picked it out of the letterbox had nothing better to do came running down the street has, excuse me. The letterbox says no circulars, you shouldn’t be given this and I turn around I said it squared off. So that was the that was the only thing that was Yeah, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I got results people found. But that’s the only thing that really resonated from my flyer drop. And

you were born to do this, like, so how busy how busy. Were you as you were sort of finishing school and, you know, hitting your 1617 year old years? Did you carry on doing that thing? Or did you experiment with other stuff at that time?

Yeah, yeah. So at that time, I was just working for like, residential clients, Mr. Mrs. Smith. And that then led on to people talking. And obviously a lot of owner managed businesses use it in their in their companies. So yeah, all of a sudden, before I knew I started having small businesses phoned me up for IT support. And that then led outside of Android as well. So my parents used to have to drive me to appointments and wait outside last night fixes network for a company. So yeah, organically grew.

So did you as you were going through that process, obviously, the jobs as the jobs get bigger, inevitably you come across something that you go, I don’t know how to do that. I’ve never done that before. And I can just tell that you’re the sort of guy that figures it out. But did you did you pick up any qualifications along the way that you know sort of industry ones or did you just go now I’ll figure it out that way about it. You get over those those challenges.

So let me see. Can I share my screen I’ll find something for you in a minute. And whilst I look face I’ll tell you a story. So I went to it was at the time but fast Toward a bit. And I was just about to employ my first member of staff and had an email come through for an employment seminar and went along to it and sat next to a bloke and just got chatting, but how some fire bloke called Mike, and then he ran a insurance brokers. And yeah, when we’re at this seminar and there’s no here we go on LUCAM Mike, nice to meet you. But halfway through he turns to me you guys this is going on a bit in this bit of a sales pitch or so. Yeah, you’ve gotten done. I just want to leave like Yeah, me too. So why are you here? I sell I’m I’m just about to take on a member of staff know nothing about employment law thought thought I’d come along. Why are you here? I am. I’ve just fired a guy. He’s just left the business. Oh, right. Okay, you guys. I want to know where I stand up guys. What do you do though? Although I’d run an IT business. You guys great. This bloke that just left looked after. Right? Alrighty. Come and see me. So I went and saw him a week later. And yeah, yeah. Turned out they needed a new server. Now I knew that. At the time, I knew nothing about servers, like literally never touched one. And you need new server Mike, you know, great. There was a quote. So like, literally a week of YouTube, went back with a quote. And so I write this is what you need, blah, blah, blah. And, like, great, signed it off this deposit. And I remember I walked out the doors I Barker, what have I done? And sailed through it, like blacks my way through it. Nailed it if I’m brutally honest, because I suppose you know, I have the confidence. I’ve got a bit of background knowledge. And you know, my experience I could get from A to B. So yeah, like putting this new server for them migrated over their systems or data, their exchange server at the time, and then you’re done. So it’s things like that. Yeah, that’s just one example. Give me a massive confidence boost. And then yeah, went forward from there. So I mean, that that was the that was the one bit the other bit you mentioned qualifications. Why you asked your next question, I’m going to find someone to share my screen. So I’ve got a golden story about that. I love

it. I’m once you look for that. I’m just gonna dive into the thread here. We’ve got an dispo. Here is a friend of mine from down your neck of the woods, who runs a business Southampton. He’s watching Good to see a bozi. And Chad is asking a couple of questions. So we’re gonna dive into those poor minute, the amazing pool minute, our friend from the big issue world is is watching. Square love. Can I quote you on that is what Paul’s asking. He’s a good marketer, Paul. So he obviously likes the the approach that you’ve taken for customer relations. I think before we answer the questions, if I’m gonna get jack on fairly soon, he can ask questions for us, because I know he’s been watching the questions come in. The thing that that went through my mind, I saw, I think one of the first questions that came in, I can’t remember who asked it, but they said, is it all about marketing? Is it because you said I just got my name out there really. And the password that we often use is marketing. But but it doesn’t sound very scientific to me. You just seem to go and promote as much as you could talk to people as much as you could. And if anyone asks you something you didn’t know you just said yes. And then you went to figure it out later. That’s kind of what happened.

Then this ties in nicely what I just found I can’t find on the screen but I’ve got it on my phone. And marketing is all about positioning yourself. Now I all I’ve got my name is half a BTEC national diploma and a labour GCSE s. And I’ve only got half of B Tech national deployments. I fell out of college, they’ve got too busy and was losing money. And so in answer to your question, qualifications, that’s all I’ve got. But I thought I can’t put on my LinkedIn profile that I’ve just got a half half of the beaten b tech people wouldn’t take me seriously. So I made up that I did a D O haich. D in idea of in it networking and network technologies, a church the college. So Church, the college had a 50 year anniversary did loads of studies on their ex students. So I don’t know if you can see that. That’s a poster. And at church the college it says Luke Meade qualified here with a do haich D in it networking and network technologies. So they’re they’re advertising this qualification that I made up an estimator at the at the college should

launch that qualification. Look, I think you should launch that. I think I know a lot of people that would sign up for that. Yeah.

So I mean that as I said, marketing that links into it all marketing is is really positioning yourself as an authority. Now I’m not saying I’m black my way through life as a company. We do some great stuff. We got some really clever technology solutions. I’ve got a great team. And we’ve really helped transform a lot of businesses become more efficient. But yeah, in those early days when it was just me, yeah, my skill set was was bad. And I didn’t have the budget to go and employ resource that I needed to grow the business. So yeah, early on, I had to black it.

Yeah. Do you know what what I love about that is that this is the difference between lots of folks that I meet that are exploring starting a business for the first time. And often the people that come to pop up are over 3035. You know, we meet people that are, you know, they’ve left their job, or they’ve been fired, or they’ve just decided that they’re not ready to retire, but they’ve reached retirement age. So we meet a lot of folks in middle age that want to start. And I was one of these two, of having employee mindset. You know, I had a career for 10 years, working in a large organisation. And I think when you work for someone else, before you learn something before you go and talk to customers, it has got to be right. And it has got to be good quality, because you’ve got the organisation that’s built up its reputation. But of course, when you’re starting your built, you kind of build it as you go, don’t you? And it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, you know, this qualification conundrum, which is kind of why I asked you the question, I think that’s the best answer I’ve ever had to the qualification question. Because it’s very similar to the advice I get, yeah, I love it. It’s just made out. That’s what we say to people we have, I can’t be a coach yet. Because I haven’t qualification. I don’t have a qualification. I haven’t got a certificate. And I said, Well, tell me your name. And I’ll print one off for you. Because if you’ve got life experience, if you know in your world, if you know a little bit about the kit, and you know how to find out the answer, if you don’t know, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You just go I’m just gonna go and figure it out. Bear with me, you know? Yeah, I love it.

Yeah, yeah. Well, in those early days, yeah, I didn’t have a reputation. But the business has grown, because of our reputation. And the fact we do a good job, and our clients have referred us. But back when I only had, you know, no clients, no one could refer me. So in order to start growing, you have to win a client. And yeah, in order to win a client, I have to block it.

I’m going to dive into some of your some of the lessons that you’ve learned and the things that went well, and when didn’t, and what didn’t. I think the first thing I want to do is Is it right that the acronym that you came up with was do H E? Yeah. So it right. So M is asking, What does it stand for? Did you know what it stands for? Can you remember? I remember, right, brilliant. That’s perfect, right? In that case. I’m like, people that are watching the live stream, what I’d love you to do is to comment, what you think the letters D O H, E, could or should stand for? And let’s see how creative people are. I think there’s I mean, yeah, I mean, there could be some rude ones coming in on the

next one. And you can hold me to this, I’ll put it on my email signature for the rest of the week.

I love that. That’s it. Absolutely brilliant. So here we go, folks. You’ve heard it here from the CEO and founder of the LMS group, the best version of D. Oh, he is acronym. What do you think those letters could and should have stood for? Luke’s gonna put that on his email signature for the rest of this week? I think has absolutely been absolutely going to get jack on. He’s got some questions come in. I guess before we dive into those questions, one last thing went through my head, which was so as a 15 year old in school, and my gut feel is that things haven’t changed that much. What do you think the school could have done? To help you love are your business? What do you think was the thing that was missing? From your experience? I’m guess I’m kind of getting it the, you know, what can we do to help inspire and give a shove to the kids like you, the ones that get lost in the system?

So there’s three things that would really stand out to me. First one is work experience work experiences for like a week in whatever it is year nine, and you soon forget about it, and it ain’t real. And I think work experience and getting out there in the real world has to be an ongoing thing. It should form part of the curriculum, every you know, every quarter, I think you should be out for a period of time, even if it’s just a day a quarter in the real world. how that would work with businesses. I don’t know we’re a small business. I know what it’s like taking on work experience, but something needs to change there. The other is real life skills. So you know, no one at school teaches you how to manage money, pay a credit card, get a credit rating. You know, think savvy, there’s just it’s not there. And it wouldn’t. I think it’s probably why a lot of people in this country can’t manage money, have no concept of it because it’s not taught. And it’s not an inherent skill you’re born with, you have to learn it. And the third thing is stop bloody pushing people down an academic route. I mean that they get me wrong. The things have improved with, with apprenticeship schemes, but it’s still not great. I still think a lot of young people feel they have to go on and do further study where actually there’s a big world out there. And the sooner you get in it and start earning, the better. I mean, I, you know, I look at people that come to me for jobs, and were recruited for a position couple of years back. Final two candidates, one was a chap out of college one was a chap power unit, chap out a union, what 3040 grands worth of debt, and a stupidly high expectation and no real world experience? Who did we employ? So, you know, it’s not all about going on and doing further studies? Yeah. school needs to just, you know, people, people like me that didn’t fit the mould. We don’t follow that route. And they’re just, you know, were dropped, so you need to go on and find something for those kids.

I love it. I’m hoping well, I think I know that Jack’s here. The pubs are still shut in Basingstoke. So he’s not out getting a cheeky brew dog. I know that he’s going to suddenly appear like a genie from the pop up business school lamp. There you go, Jack. It amazes me. The fact that you’re like one day, you’re not going to be there. I’m going to say Jack Jack, you there. You’ve gone. Yes, Jack, there are some acronyms that have been shared. And there are some questions. What’s what’s caught your eye?

Yeah, there’s a lot of questions. But let’s focus on the actors and actresses. It’s not funny. We’ve got don’t own Oh, my God, they just don’t ordinarily have education. Doctor of high esteem. James heads we’ve commented dogs over humans easily. Earlier Diploma of hidden education. That’s good. Distinction order of higher entrepreneurship. Or like this one, the diploma of hypothetical education

is a very safe, I’m disappointed that they’d be they’re good, but they’re, they’re safe. They’re sensible. I think people need to have a couple of drinks and have another go.

Do obstacles hinder employment?

And they do this for sure.

Cracker was the questions were sort of visible coming in and did a little bit of it. And we’ve spoken about was Lisa asks, How did you focus on what was important instead of getting distracted and overwhelmed by the noise of what you should or could be doing with your business?

Oh, that is a blinding question. Oh, crikey. I suppose that applies to you know, in the early days, and now I still love it difficult is the God’s honest truth stay focused on any one given thing. Something that I got into the habit of quite early on is booking out my time. So if I know I’ve got something to work on, literally stick it in the diary. Nothing else goes in. So that time is blocked out. Otherwise, I feel you know, you can write lists and then rewrite lists and nothing gets done. There’s actually if you put something in the diary and you stick to it, that’s the way to do it. Nice, good answer.

Jack, can you remind me to block out my calendar tomorrow, please?

No promises. Caitlin asks, from the time you kicked up with the flyers and picked up the one gig, how long did it take you for it to become like a business that had an income that you could live off?

You gotta remember at the time, I was 15. So you know, I was, I was in the position. I didn’t have to buy food. I didn’t have a mortgage and I didn’t have a car. So that’s where in a way, you know, maybe I was quite fortunate in the fact that I could take that risk. And I thought the question I that would come up. I’ve got my p&l in front of me for my first year trading. So first year, I made a loss of 6304 quid, and that was January to December 2010. And then the following year, January to December 20. The 11th, I made a profit of 6379 quid. So by the end of year two, I’ve only broken even. But what really stands out with this is from a salaries and expenditure point of view, first year of trading salaries of 4,802nd year salaries were 21,364. So, inherently, I knew I couldn’t start drawing a wage out of the business. And if I did, we wouldn’t grow as quickly. So everything that I was making, I was replying back into the business to then fire it up for further growth. And, you know, a lot of that was in, in staff and in resources, very little of that was actually in advertising and marketing. In fact, I spent less in advertising and marketing 1000 pound less in YouTube than I did in year one. Because at that point, we, and this is something to learn, actually, marketing doesn’t have to cost the earth. So up until it was only last year, we employed a marketing manager in house, and the business had grown from us being quite specific and targeted with who we want it to work. So you know, company A, if I wanted to work with them, I would try every single route to get through contacting people on LinkedIn, posting them lumpy mail, email, cold calling the lot. And all of those methods and routes to entry. Were free. All it cost me was time. So yeah, you don’t need to spend a fortune in marketing. Sorry, I went off on a tangent.

Now, let me just dive into that for a second. Because we have a bit of lumpy mail over the years. And I’d sent all sorts of things in the early days, dinosaurs, fish, Alan sent Rubik’s cubes, and all sorts of random stuff in the post. What sort of things did you send in the mail when you were having to go to direct mail?

Best thing I’ve said, that got me the biggest engagement, it’s quite expensive in terms of volume was a rubber duck, you put in the bathtub, and then got one of those tags, tied it around his neck, and just wrote it, I’ll call you at certain time on certain day, and literally your friend through and you’d go to speak to the end, and they would take your code because that that really got their attention. And yeah, the amount of meetings I’ve got off of that, and that that was still there on their desk.

Love it. Did you ever exceed negatively to that? Because we had a couple of people that didn’t like that approach? You know, in our sort of public sector world. Did you get any? Was everyone either a zero response or a warm response? Or did you get anyone grumpy?

So the one that we did get a bit of backlash from was we thought Great, we’ll pick up a client on hey, you’re laughing at this already. I haven’t even told you. We’d pick up a client on like a trading estate or in a parade of shops. And we had some flyers printed and then on the front of them it said Don’t settle for S star star t IT provider your next door neighbour hasn and then on the back with right the company that had just like contracted with us and taken us on and it said so and so company has just started working with us contact us for a free it review. And then we got a an email from a pharmacy like oh, we’re really offended by your flight. And then yeah, wanted us to take it further and said Can Can you please get someone to phone us? So I found them? And they’re like, oh, yeah, it’s really offended us. Can we please speak to the managing director or the person in charge? Like yeah, that’s me. Tell me what the problem is. And they just they just wanted to bitch and moan. And you just got to be ballsy. As long as it doesn’t. I say offend people you’ve got offend people in life a little bit. As long as you know that. You’ve got to be human and prime example the whole Coronavirus in the amount of Tosh that is on LinkedIn and free promotional offers to help people Coronavirus is you know, it’s bit on sensitive people. Unfortunately, people are dying. You can’t use Coronavirus and Marty, whereas you know, using the word share no big deal.

Yeah. Did you did that? Did that? Just one more time. Did that. Did that hurt you at the time? Did you do sort of that sick feeling in your stomach of like, Oh no, I’ve done something bad here. Or did it? Did it make you laugh? Did he did it bounce off? Was it an annoyance? What was your emotion?

It reminded me of being a little naughty schoolboy again. Right? Yeah, just can’t hit me again. That was good fun.

Yeah. I love that. I love that bit, sir. So it was a it was a pharmacist, I’d been really tempted to suggest that they’ve been taking too much drugs and that’s why they were upset about it. But that probably wouldn’t have helped things it would have made things worse like, yeah. Jack any more questions or any more acronyms that have come in?

Not so many acronyms coming in, which is I was expecting, especially after your comment for it to go completely off the rails. We’ve had things like distancing of higher education a call like that. Because getting so formal I want ridiculous. And someone who had a question come in from Corrine, friend of pop up. I know, we touched on this a little bit earlier on, but I also know what’s your favourite subject? How can we encourage our kids to get involved in business? Because obviously, you start at such an early age, how can we encourage kids right now to jump into business?

So just choose an industry fish and chips, you want to go and work in fish and chips, go to your local chippy, and just ask him for a job unpaid just to get experience and prove your worth. And yeah, the problem nowadays, I feel that, you know, don’t get me wrong, it’s not the case with with younger people. But you know, it’s that snowflake generation of all, no, you can’t go out, it’s dangerous out there. So just go go to your local company. You know, whatever it is it business, if you want to work in it, ask him for work experience, just, you know, empty the bins make tea be helpful. Just put yourself out there. Not enough people, especially younger generation put themselves out, they always expect it to be handed to them on a plate. So you know, those that people that come to me and actually visit and say, Look, I’m in the market. This is my CV, this is my cover letter, I keep them because they’ve taken the effort to come and see us. And it also shows that they’ve got a certain way of thinking that they not only think different, they’re actually not afraid. So all of a sudden, you put that in a real world situation, you got a really difficult client on the phone. They’ve got that confidence, whereas someone that is, you know, forced as a situation is forced upon them, how do you think they can react? So yeah, always put yourself forward. And you know, just get out there get experience. Your mute Simon,

if I knew that I thought I just had a cracking conversation with myself like, I tell you what the it got, it was fine until I answered myself back. That’s when things got really weird. Like the thing that went through my head is two things. The first is transitioning from those first couple of years. Like when did you discover that you had to turn it into a real business? Or at least you had to make that decision? And because you mentioned something last week about a networking meeting. Just explain that because I think that’s fascinating, because it was almost like, I need to wake up and smell the coffee, I think things are about to get real.

Yeah. Yeah, there was two epiphany moments that that was one of them. So at the time, I was running out my bedroom. And you know, my parents made me get a landline installed, because they’re fed up of the whole world, his wife leaving voicemails and the family answer machine, I was going to fix their PCs, and got invited to this networking event. And at the time, I rocked up, and I would have been we think about this, I would have been a team. And I braces, so did your operation when I was 18. And I turn up into this room, and it’s full of people that suited and booted, and I’m there in jeans and a branded polo shirt with braces on my teeth. And I thought, Oh Christ, I, you know, I’ve been out of my depth before and without my doctor. And then I met a chap at this event. And you know, a couple of weeks later got chatting, he was a finance broker, and he helped companies raise finance. And in order to do that, he put together business plans. And he said, Look, you know, let’s put a business plan together. So went through the facts and figures and his exact words, I remember him to this day, it was like, just pause. And yes. Listen, son, this isn’t a hobby. This is a business. You’ve turned over more than the VAT threshold, you need to do something about this. And yeah, I you know, exceeded the VAT threshold and should have been VAT registered. And yeah, that was the point of like, well, you know, SATA. I don’t want to go to uni. Let’s just give it a go for a year. And if all else fails, I’ve given it a go What have I got to lose? So yeah, that was one. And the other one, my brother who I love to be it made the decision for me because I had before I got my first office. My parents, you know, God bless him. They, they let me convert their front room into an office. So I went and bought a load of office furniture, desks and everything. And then my little brother used to get out from school and just wind me up from about three o’clock until late evening and I could not get any work done. They just be a complete pain. I’d be on the phone and they’d like be moody in the door. And as I write I’ve got to get an office and yeah, yeah all Southern taken on a lease that was forced upon me. Thanks, Matt. Yeah.

I love that. I think one of the only businesses that Well, I think the only one that I’ve ever met business owner that had to find an office due to family nudity, which I love. So I guess the other stuff that was going through my mind, I guess, a couple of quickfire ones, how, how old when you hired the first team member? And what was that process? Like?

I was 19. And I just got on with it, because I was running out of time. And I thought, You know what, I’ll take a pun. Because, yeah, you know, I could work myself to death, and there’s only 24 hours in a day. Or I could take that jump and buy back some of my time.

And did you go for an apprentice? Did you go for someone experience? Did you go for a friend? A place?

I spoke to the college where I got my do he? And I said to them, I need to have someone help me out within the business, who would you recommend? And the first person that I ever employed was also called Luke. So when we started the company, it was a to Luke’s and the most funny thing is, is a lovely bloke. Honestly, it was a legend. But he handed in his notice, like a year, 18 months later, because he thought that his job wasn’t secure, and didn’t think the business was going to go anywhere.

All right. What a mistake at a mecca. Exactly. You know, look at us now. Yeah. And I guess that’s the point that you’re at now. And I’m just I’ve got your team members on the screen here. The team’s grown, hasn’t it? I just like wonder Where are you headed? Next? What? What does I know, like COVID to one side? And I know, you said that things are a little quieter, but it’s kind of business, as usual, be that you’re working remotely? What does the future look like for you guys? What’s the ambition, what excites you?

We want to dominate the USA, we want to we will dominate the south coast in terms of being the leading IT provider, and, you know, really carving out our patch. So you know, any company, you know, draw a line from London, south of England, we want to be that go to Company. And then you know, we’re already finding it. There’s quite a few large, the prime example. There’s quite a few large telecoms businesses on the south coast. And you know, that they’re great at telecoms, but they all of a sudden said, oh, we’ll do your it as well. And before you know it, you’ve got a company that don’t really know what they’re doing. And I know that’s rich coming from me when I said I’ve sold people servers that I didn’t know what I was touching.

That’s 10 years ago, don’t worry about that. It was longer than that.

So yeah, we we are really good at what we do. And that has really allowed us to be successful. So actually being recognised and that the truth be told is, you know, really, it’s only our clients that know what we do as a business prime example with you know, this whole situation, large majority of our clients just up sticks and left no bother. So yeah, that’s, that’s where I want to go, I want to have the company really be that top of the mountain, they are the best company to go to for your it.

I love that. I don’t doubt that for one second, like in whatever we can do to support you guys and shout about it on the journey is exciting for us. So I guess it’ll be really, really good stuff to understand. Because I know you’re at the point now where you feel it feels to me that you’re in just a fantastic position. And you’ve got all these years of experience behind you. You’ve got a competent team, you got great vision, great ambition, but you didn’t get here by accident. Some some mistakes were made along the way. You had a few wins, you had some mistakes. What were the things that were the your biggest learning points, what are the scars that have given you the lessons

by not trusting or going with my gut instinct, have always gone with my gut instinct other than a very few number of times, and each one of those times it has bitten me on the ass. So prime example. You know, when they’re, when Luke left us odd, I’d gone out on one of these contracts. And we’re going through a massive growth phase and it was just me again, but it was me with so much work that I couldn’t service. So we went through a phase of rapidly employing people. And yeah, it’s it’s a delicate thing employing people. You know, we finally I say finally a good few years ago, we got to a point where we had a proper recruitment The process and was selective and could be selective because we had time and funds. Whereas in those early days, it was a case of anyone that came off the street, I just need you to do a job. I remember vividly it was a chap came for a job and came up the stairs out of breath. And then oh, sorry, I’m a bit late, there wasn’t a car parking space nearby. So I went around the block a few times. And, you know, you think about it, no big deal. Subconsciously, you take that apart, who’s lazy, you know, a, he should have planned got there before got a parking space and walked. But no, he was too lazy to walk. So I’d rather drive around the block to find a parking space nearer. So you know, what does that tell you back about his work ethic? Well, I found that out later on down the line. But yeah, rushing in and employing people massive mistakes. The team now though, I hasten to add, they are bloody fantastic. I love them to bits, they are such a good bunch, and I’ll be lost without them. They will

be texting me privately about you like giving me all of the inside track that I need to know about. So they send you any nude photos? Not yet. But hopefully that doesn’t happen. I’ll get I’ll switch the phone off just in case. So I guess like based on what you said, Then, and this is something that we’ve been, we’ve been wrestling with, on and off and I completely resonate with everything you said about, you know, rapidly hiring versus, you know, just taking your time and so on. That how important is the culture in the mindset of the people in your team, to helping you deliver that vision, like getting the right people in? How key is that for you?

Yeah, it’s huge. It’s huge. So empowering people to have free reign is, you know, there’s a lot to be said for that. So don’t get me wrong as a company, we’ve got strict procedures and policies in place. But it’s not to the point where Oh, no, that that doesn’t fit within your department, you have to hand that over. So you know, allowing people to think outside the box and really do what they want to do if it’s going to benefit the business, them and our clients. So yeah, you know, really empowering the team. But also, you know, prime example, our office, we bought the office back in 2018. And spent the best part of 300 grand in renovating it. And it’s it’s an awesome place to work. So you know, things like that, even down our office chairs, they’re made by a company called Herman Miller. They’re not the cheapest, but they are so good and so comfortable. And the view I take it’s going to cost me more for someone’s go off with a bad back than it is that to spend, you know, six 700 quid on a chair. So it’s all those little things. The other night, we all had a team quiz and got Domino’s pizzas delivered. So yeah, it’s it’s their little touches that actually all add up.

Yeah, nice. You just cost me about 10 pizzas and three cases of BrewDog. Yeah, I think maybe we should have a pop up business school versus LMS quiz, I think might be a bit of fun. We maybe we can figure that out. When ordering pepperoni as we speak. So second,

last summer, it was one of the chaps 40th birthdays. And we we had a surprise birthday pie for him. And no one knew on three of us in the company what was going to happen? So we went out and played pub golf. But before we told the whole business that we were going out or halfling knew that we were going out to the pub just about a meal. The Champions birthday, it wasn’t set, right. We’ve got an evening away day just a thought process. And all you need to bring is a pen and your brain. And he rocked up and we had like printed T shirts and like right get a meal down you these are the rooms pub golf, Out we go. So yeah, things like that for culture are so good. And yeah, as we grow and scale up, I do not want to lose that because that forms part of who we are as a company.

Yeah, very nice. If you were starting again tomorrow, Lou, what would you do differently?

So I asked the bank for a loan for seven half grand when I started and told him it was for a car or I would have asked them for 15 or 20. So going back to you know, where do you set the bar with your prices? I should have pushed a bit higher.

Okay, and there’s a lot of people that are watching that are in the very early stages of their business. What advice would you give them based on what you’ve learned? What are the do’s and don’ts do you think of, of getting something off the ground? Always go with the gut.

Don’t be scared because the only person or the only thing that ever hold you back as you and I found that early on? You know, I’d say, Oh no, I’m not gonna run that mail shot until the new websites live. You know, the website is still the same people behind the website, silly little things like that I’d always let things get in the way. And in my mind, I can’t do that until I’ve done this. And it’s, you know, it wasn’t until I realised, quite frankly, solder, just get on with it, there’s no time like the present, that thing started happening. So that’s a big one. Be careful with who you employ, if you come to employ staff be selective. And actually taking more time finding the right people really does pay off and always employ people based on attitude, not in skills, because you can learn skills, but you can’t learn or change attitude. And yeah, know your finances and know how to read the figures. Because that was something that I didn’t get at first. And had I had I had that understanding. From the get go, I think I would have done things a bit differently. And the final one is build systems and try and get as much business intelligence and information out of your data as you can. So Prime example in our business, we know exactly what we’re looking like for revenue pipeline, customer satisfaction, utilisation, you know, timing advance scheduling the whole lot. We’ve got it there in beta and dashboards. And that is, you know, so powerful. So yeah, the more data you can extract, and read and really forecast on so that not only can you grow, you can also build a steady platform. That’s huge.

Great stuff. I can’t believe that an hour has gone by. So it just remains to me to say thank you for giving us an hour of this evening. It’s been fascinating chatting, I feel like we could go on much, much longer. I look forward to the pop up versus LMS quiz. If we’ve got lots of questions about Marvel movies, or we’ve got one or two football experts in the team, we might be right. Otherwise, we’re in big trouble, I think. But thank you to everybody that’s been watching lots of folks that have put some nice comments in there. The Duke of hypothetical education is a late entry for the the acronym and Russ thinks you don’t like Hugh Grant. Which you know, take that how you want I think that’s a compliment. Wait a minute, Ross Q grants like twice Luke’s aid, I’m not sure that’s a compliment anymore. That’s

really pathetic beard. At the minute we’ve got the stupid competition between us who can grow the worst beards during lockdown. I joined an online poker match with my mates the other night and I logged on first single and says like, Luke, I’ve just shaved your cheeks. Come on, give out.

We’ve got folks from Namibia in Africa, South Southern Africa watching and they’re saying thank you very much for sharing your your knowledge and comments tonight, Luke. So that’s brilliant. We’ve got some folks from all over the UK and the USA that have enjoyed your comments. And look, it’s been absolutely phenomenal. Everybody, we’re going to post this video on our pop up Business School Survival Guide. Remember, the rebel entrepreneur podcast has just come out. And on Thursday, we’ve got a lovely lady from America from Montana called Gillian johnsrud. She’s a life coach. And she’s also a money coaching experts. So wherever you’re at with this virus wherever you’re at with your business, join us on Thursday night nine o’clock UK time, and Julian’s going to share her wisdom. Look, you’re an absolute legend. If you stay on the line after Jack switches off the Live button, we can stay cheerio properly. Thank you everybody. Watch for watching, and we’ll see you soon. Bye bye, Santa