June 22, 2017
Today marks eight years since we started on our journey to shake up the travel payments industry – and what a journey it’s been! From a tiny no-frills office near Heathrow airport, to offices in Asia, Australia, Europe and America. And we’re still expanding…..growing 64% YoY in 2016.
As a founder, I get asked a lot about what it takes to be an entrepreneur. So, in honour of our eighth birthday, here are eight entrepreneurial essentials for success:
1. Be bold
When it comes to funding, don’t be intimidated by a job title or a company name – think big and aim high! Don’t be afraid to knock on the door of the CEO. eNett wouldn’t have come about if I didn’t push hard to get a meeting with Travelport – a multi-billion dollar giant in the travel industry.
2. Make it count
They’re called ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities for a reason. So practice, be at your best and give it everything. Remember, investors are just as interested in your passion as your PowerPoint. When I got a chance to pitch to the MD of Travelport for investment, he had to cancel the meeting to catch a plane – so I pushed hard and he agreed to meet in the back of his taxi! We signed a joint venture a few months later.
3. Be unwavering in your belief
If you don’t have 100% belief in your offering, don’t bother. It’s that belief that’s going to give you the energy and tenacity to make it into reality. I was shocked at how old fashioned and manual payment processes were in the travel industry. That’s when I had my Eureka moment for Virtual Account Numbers. It was two years before the concept became reality, and required a lot of input from a lot of people, but I never doubted it, and was able to project that unshakeable confidence to others.
4. Scale up before you get customers – not after
In today’s digital age, it’s never been more important to build your infrastructure today based on anticipated demand five years down the line. Nothing gives a poor customer experience more than not being able to log in on your website. Think like a big company from the outset!
5. Hire the best people
I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life, but the truth is you’re only as good as the team around you. Take the time and effort to find and hire the best people, and it will pay dividends. Never be afraid to hire people better than you. As I always say, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
6. Cultural fit first
Attitude first, then aptitude! Hire people who will fit in and support the culture of the brand you want to promote. This is especially important in the early stages of a company. My view is you can always teach skills, but you can’t teach culture.
7. Talk to your customers
This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen too many great companies think they know what customers want, without asking them! Talk to them, more importantly, listen to them, and be flexible enough to adjust your offering accordingly. Even as CEO I still talk to as many customers as I can. And fly over half a million miles a year to do so. My EA tells me that’s enough to get to the moon, but there’s no customers there, yet!
8. Always be asking: what’s next?
Standing still is the same as going backwards! You need to look at where the trends are heading five years or ten years down the line and start planning for that now. That’s why market insights are so important. We transitioned from challenger to industry leader in such a short space of time because we anticipated trends like greater digitisation and more global travel, and amended our VANs offering to meet those trends well ahead of time.