'I'd say the biggest risk is wasting your years doing something your heart is not really in...'
Darragh Richardson Managing Director, Agile Networks
When I look back I can see that I spent 15 years failing in business. Working for three different multinationals, I was one of those people who thought 'I could run my own business - but it's got lots of risk'.
"But what I didn't realise was that the biggest risk is wasting your years doing something your heart is not really in.
"Running your own business is worth the risk - and if you follow some simple principles your chances of success are better than you think.
"The first principle is obvious: you have to care about what you do, and that goes beyond professional pride.
"Most successful businesses are built on trying to solve a problem or disrupt a marketplace. There will always be challenges, especially at the start, and to get the energy and motivation you need to really care about what your business is trying to do.
"For us it was pretty simple - we wanted to set new standards in IT networks by employing the best engineers and giving customers direct access to them. It doesn't sound revolutionary, but it gave us a clear vision around what type of people to hire and what type of customers to target.
"The second lesson I've learned is that the more you focus, the more you succeed. There are always temptations to broaden out but it is really important to build a critical mass in one area before you move on to the next.
"We spent four years building our business to be the best network integrator in Ireland, and it is only now that we have the capacity to broaden our portfolio to new partners.
"The final key point is that getting the right people at the right time is the biggest factor in whether your business will survive and thrive.
"We have been really fortunate to rely on word of mouth to get good people in. It is tough competing with the big firms, but if you maximise the positive points of working in a small firm you can attract and retain the best. In my experience the key areas are variety of work, flexibility, clear accountability and most importantly, not being tied up in a red-tape bureaucracy.
"I'm sure it changes from industry to industry but the critical point is get the right people in when you can, and if the right people aren't available, don't compromise. That's a long-term pain for a short-term gain."
Sunday Indo Business