My biggest mistake

'I lacked self-belief'
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The Independent Online

My biggest mistake was to let a lack of self-belief hold me back from doing what I wanted to do. It's a huge regret that I left it till I was 30 to start my own business. Throughout my teenage years I was always saying "I'm going to work for myself" and coming up with ideas that never really got off the ground. For years I didn't have the bottle to do anything.

My biggest mistake was to let a lack of self-belief hold me back from doing what I wanted to do. It's a huge regret that I left it till I was 30 to start my own business. Throughout my teenage years I was always saying "I'm going to work for myself" and coming up with ideas that never really got off the ground. For years I didn't have the bottle to do anything.

In my early 20s I lived in Manchester, and having studied biochemistry, decided that the laboratory wasn't for me, so shifted my attention and got on to the graduate trainee scheme at EMI. I did branch out a bit and set up a college promotions company but I kept waiting until my situation was more secure before I left to do my own thing.

What forced me to make a decision was the advent of new media; what pushed me beyond my fears was a mid-life crisis of sorts.

In the early 1990s my father sent me a press cutting which featured some science company, but on the same cutting was a story about Compuserve. I ignored the article he'd sent and read the bit about the internet, and thought, wow, this is incredible.

I was bored in my job and thought: "If I don't do something now, I'm going to run out of time." I bought a few books about the internet and started reading. I only understood about 10 per cent of it, but it whetted my appetite, and I trawled my friends to see whether anyone knew what it was about.

By 1994 I had also registered myself for a multimedia design course at university in London, but didn't attend because, by August, I had won my first piece of business: to develop a website for someone. At that point, I gave up my job, with no real promise of work, but a passion for what I wanted to do. By that time, the trauma of leaving security behind had gone and I was so determined. That pulled me through any difficulties. Now, if I look back, I think: "I don't know if I would be able to do that again."

I suppose I didn't think too much about it, apart from the excitement and the thought that I was going to make this work and make up for lost time.

Pretty much as soon as I started, I realised there was a life outside of a salary. What you need more than anything, though, is the ability to see it through. It may be 1 per cent inspiration but it's still 99 per cent perspiration in most start-up businesses. If you deliver and you are reliable and work hard, you have to have belief in what you do. With Good Technology, I did.

It was just me for the first six months, working from a spare bedroom, but I set up an office six months later and employed a second person. Since the year I started the business, we have doubled the size of the agency year on year.

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