The past five years have been incredible — and one hell of a journey. Everything we’ve achieved with Viddyoze since we founded the company back in 2015 has been nothing short of amazing. And it has left us in a phenomenal position as a business, setting us up for a future that will be just as groundbreaking, exciting and memorable. Here’s what I’ve learnt along the way.
1. Doing everything yourself in perpetuity is unsustainable
I’ve realised that running and leading a million dollar business with an ever-growing team is completely different to managing and nurturing a business in the early stages of its development.
When you start a business, you have no team. It’s just you and your fellow founders. That’s it. You have to do everything. To give it a sporting analogy, you’re more a tennis player than a member of a football team.
For me, back then, it actually wasn’t that much of an issue. I like being in control. In fact, I think it’s a quality that you need to have as a business owner. You have to be able to make decisions, control those decisions and, in turn, be responsible for them.
However, when you begin to grow your business, that changes. It’s impossible to maintain that initial level of control — you can’t go on doing everything forever. And, if you do, you will very likely stifle business growth.
That’s been a key learning for me these past five years. I’ve learnt that you can’t be absolutely everything within your business — which initially you are. You have to give up responsibility and entrust it in others. A business thrives a lot more when you let others run with things independently. And you get to where you need to get to much quicker, too.
2. Reinvesting back into the business is critical
If you don’t reinvest back into your company, you’re setting yourself up for a life of ordinary. We’ve never wanted that. We’ve always wanted to improve and we’ve always wanted to shake things up.
So, as we’ve grown as a business and made more and more money, we’ve made a concerted effort to reinvest that profit back into Viddyoze. It’s been critical to our continued success and development.
Don’t get us wrong, when we launched Viddyoze in 2015, it would have been easy to have pocketed the $500,000 that we had made in five days. It was a lot of money and more than we’d ever made before in such a short space of time.
But that didn’t make good business sense. Instead, we reinvested all it back into the company — and reaped the benefits. Needless to say, we’ve been doing that ever since, pumping money back into the business year after year. And it keeps paying off. It has helped us hire more talent, build better tech and set ourselves up for long-term success. That would never have happened without that initial commitment to reinvestment.
3. Switching off from work is massively important
In the early years of Viddyoze, I never switched off. I spent most of my waking hours working on the business. Weekdays, weeknights and weekends — all of my time was dedicated to Viddyoze.
It was hard, but necessary. When you found a business you need to be incredibly dedicated during the all-important early stages — it’s a crucial period, after all. But you have to be careful. You can absolutely burn out and it’s not a good position to be in. You end up making bad decisions and you end up being less creative. And it’s unhealthy. Trust me, I know. I’ve burnt out numerous times over the years.
I’ve learnt from my experiences. I can switch off from Viddyoze much more easily today than I could previously. This has been made more possible with the growing and talented team we are putting together. Having confidence in their judgement and skills on any number of things is reassuring — I can leave them to it and know they’ll do a good job. Being less involved in everything is nice.
Of course, I still check in with emails and Slack messages outside of normal work hours — and I’m pretty much available all the time. But I’ve got used to “not working” at certain points of the week. I’ve normalised that. And it’s been a revelation. It has had a huge impact on my productivity and I’m now able to think better, more clearly and creatively than ever before.
For me, it’s all about balance. This was something that was almost impossible to have in the early days of Viddyoze, but as the platform and business has grown, so too has the balance.
4. Making mistakes is part of the process
Back in 2015, David, Joey and myself were far too focused on what would happen to the business if we made a mistake. We would think about it all the time. Simply put, none of us wanted to mess up so early on when we were trying to grow the company, attract customers and make a name for ourselves.
That was never going to be tenable. It’s impossible to be perfect and to make the right decisions all the time. We’re human. We make mistakes. And guess what? Since day one right through to 2020 we have made a ton of mistakes, from the smallest of things to the almost catastrophic. But we’ve always bounced back from them. When I look back, I can see how the decisions we make today have been shaped by the mistakes we almost had to make while we were growing Viddyoze.
Coming to realise this has been amazing for me. I no longer wallow or focus on the negative elements of making mistakes or bad decisions. They happen, I accept it, take responsibility for it and move on by finding an effective solution swiftly.
5. Dedicating yourself to one thing is necessary
I started out in business on my own in 2008. I found myself doing a lot of things and jumping from one thing to another. Reflecting on that time, I’m not at all surprised that none of my projects ever really took off.
Viddyoze was the exception to this. And that’s because by the time it came to 2015, seven years on from that initial dive into the unknown, I had come to learn that staying focused on one thing is vital. I genuinely believe that if we hadn’t put in all that time and effort on just Viddyoze, we wouldn’t be where we are today. And that I might still be hopping from one idea to another.
What I now know is that great things take time to build. So long as you have a vision of what your product or service needs to be, all you need to do is to just keep chipping away at it until it begins to take shape. Growing Viddyoze has helped me better understand how important it is to constantly work on one thing — and that overnight success is a myth.