Business Irish

Monday 19 March 2018

'A plan is good, but it's not everything - and without flexibility it is counterproductive...'

Mark Elliott
Mark Elliott

Mark Elliott

There are a few things I wish I known before I started my journey through parenthood.

That's probably not what one would expect to see in the opening of a business article - but for me, starting my first business, 1network, in 2002 and having our first child in 2003 had a number of things in common.

What I have learnt since then is if you manage all expectations and work in partnership with others, you stand a better chance of surviving past the first 24 months. So think like a would-be parent.

VoyagerIP was established to supply onboard internet access to the superyacht market. From my background with 1network, I had a basic understanding of the technology involved while my partners knew everything about the industry, but little about starting a new business. This is where we started.

Before VoyagerIP opened for business in 2014, we spent about nine months in the planning and preparation stage. And a plan is good - but it's not the be all and end all, and without flexibility it is counterproductive.

Every person and business has a moment when all the dreaming becomes a reality and there's no going back. For the next two years, the business is 100pc totally dependent upon you and your partners for its basic survival. It and not you will decide when you eat, drink and sleep. The stress, worries and demands associated with a newborn never go away - but you learn to manage them better.

In those early tumultuous years, there will be many milestones. For us our first two years were full of all the above, from winning the satellite contract for the Irish Navy Services to parting company with one of the founding members who couldn't adjust to the requirements brought about by the big day. Don't linger too long on the good and the bad, take from it what you need and move on.

It is highly unlikely that within your business there is the necessary knowhow or skillset to fix every problem. In much the same way we send our children off to school, business can benefit from professional external intervention. Not only is it OK to ask for help, actually seek it out.

But where raising children and raising a business part ways is that you have to keep emotion and sentiment out of any decision-making for the latter. However, the former have me twisted around their growing little fingers.

Mark Elliott is managing director of Voyager IP

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