What do you currently do?
I am the owner and managing director of MoreNiche.com, we are a specialist health and beauty affiliate network. It is our job to get as many potential customers to our client’s websites as possible. In return we get a commission for each successful order placed.
A large part of this commission is then passed on to our affiliates (or resellers), this all happens in real time via our online software platform.
We have 20 staff working across 3 main departments, network/client management, development and administration. Our company prides itself on offering a premium service to both clients and affiliates, we try to go above and beyond to ensure this service is upheld.
With over 190,000 affiliates and paying nearly £20million in commission this can be a challenge, however we have one of the best staff to client ratios in the industry. The fact that we specialise in the health and beauty sector also helps.
Our challenge moving forward is to keep support at the centre of our business model but expand into new markets and gain more market share in existing markets.
Personally my big challenge this year has been to delegate as much as possible. I have a goal that every email I receive should be delegable (ideally to someone more qualified than me to reply). I have made fantastic progress this year by hiring a technical project manager and lead developer, a new head of client services and putting key staff in charge of their own projects.
What is your inspiration in business?
When I started working for myself straight out of university, it was only meant to be a temporary solution while I found a ‘proper job’. 10 years later and I am still yet to get a “proper job”. The main reason is I love what I do. My work is my hobby, I come up with ideas every day and love watching some of them get implemented. It’s what inspires me.
I now have a team of people who are the same. We hire people who are passionate about their job, and it has certainly paid off. The progress we have made in the last few years has been incredible.
We always advise new affiliates to find things to promote that interest them and it’s the same with work. You spend 40+ hours a week at work. If you enjoy it, life becomes a much more enjoyable experience.
Who do you admire?
On a recent MBA module about strategy management I got to learn about Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electric (1981-2001) and I started learning more about his management style. Although it’s very different from mine, I must say it’s something to be admired. He had a policy of firing the bottom 10% of managers each year whilst rewarding the top 20%.
With a severance package of $417 million from GE it’s fair to say he achieved phenomenal success as the head of one of the world’s biggest conglomerates
Looking back would you have done things differently?
Most business owners I speak to agree that human resource is the biggest challenge for any business. It really is the staff that make or break your business. When looking back, the biggest mistakes have definately been HR related (which is maybe why I admire Jack Welch so much).
There have been times when we have held on to poor performing staff for too long, whilst other times we have given team members projects which were doomed from the start. When growing a business at a fairly young age, you do make mistakes. I believe the key is to learn from those mistakes and avoid making them again.
What defines your way of doing business?
I expect people who work for me to work hard and be 100% committed to their role and to the visions of the company.
I also respect people who push themselves personally. That could be through learning, charity work, travel or other hobbies. If you work hard it is important to have an outlet or a way of letting off steam. We have a monthly staff night out where we will have a meal or an activity. This helps bring the team together but also gets everyone out of the office.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! If you are making mistakes it means you are doing something. It’s very easy to sit back and ‘just let it slide’ – that could be deadlines to projects, staff problems or trying something new. In fast paced industries like ours if you are not moving forward you will more than likely be heading backwards. Sitting back is not an option.
We will continue to make mistakes (and hopefully learn from them) because the day we stop making mistakes is the day we stop moving forward.