Business Small Business

Friday 28 April 2017

Making mistakes is an invaluable process that you need to go through and not apologise for

Kevin O'Loughlin, chief executive of Nostra
Kevin O'Loughlin, chief executive of Nostra

Kevin O'Loughlin

We had on day one something we still have 10 years later; an absolute commitment to do for the customer what is best for the customer. We were absolutely committed not to lose sight of the fact that the customer is dependent on our expertise to make the correct budgetary decisions, which gives them best bang for their buck to ensure their IT infrastructure is fit for purpose.

We made mistakes, but some of those mistakes were invaluable in our growth and making mistakes in our first three years gave us the knowledge not to make the same mistakes in the next three. I do believe that is a process we needed to go through and that is something you don't need to apologise for.

Cash is king in any business, simple as that. Without it, it is very difficult to do the things you want to do in the way you want to do them. We were told we needed to spend our seed capital on marketing. Mistake number one. We had nothing to market. We were three men in a warehouse, albeit a warehouse we had painted ourselves. In my view marketing comes at a time when you have traction, but in a service business like Nostra it's a complete waste of money in the start-up phase.

Diet and exercise is a key element of success. A big turning point for me and for Nostra came in 2010 when I started to train for the first time in my life. I started going to the gym at 6.30am every morning. It was life-changing. Training clears my mind in the morning, it's like a reset button. I received a bit of advice one day which I found fascinating. No matter how stressed you are, if you are lifting a weight heavy enough, at that moment there is no room for anything else in your mind. You need 100pc focus to lift the weight. The turning point of Nostra is very much aligned to the day I started to train daily and that culture of training daily has evolved throughout the business.

In the early stages we recruited as we grew and on more that one occasion we compromised because we needed to fill a position. "Let's offer the job, we need someone" doesn't work. It is much more expensive and it works out to be a longer process to hire the right people. In building your team trust your gut, don't compromise.

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