This is a book for tech business founders and the leaders and advisors who work alongside them. It is for anyone who aspires to grow an outstanding business and change the world around us.
The UK tech industry flourishes. Following two decades of rapid evolution, digital technologies have truly come of age. Innovation ecosystems with incubators, accelerators, investor and founder networks have spread from Silicon Valley to the UK. All provide many opportunities to build a successful technology business.
Many highly successful UK start-ups that have achieved massive growth are not household names. They transform the world around us with little recognition beyond their niche markets. Their founders are not held up as examples of how to create huge value from nothing and how to make a real difference in the world. Whilst many do not seek this recognition, we need these role models and pathfinders to inspire the next wave of entrepreneurs and thus benefit everyone within the UK economy.
Over the past 20 years, the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 has recognised these businesses. This book celebrates a milestone anniversary and the significant contribution winners have made. My hope is that more will follow in their inspirational footsteps.
Many businesses fail due to an inability to stand out from the crowd, to offer something unique and of high value. Those that clear this first hurdle may start to see accelerating revenue growth but then must learn rapidly how to scale their delivery. Networks of successful founders are invaluable but only go so far. Founders know they cannot share all their challenges externally. The key knowledge and experience has to be established within the company.
To mature the business, it is vital not to discard or break important elements that have brought you this far. If you have taken the external investment route, the company will have experienced directors with financial, sales and marketing expertise. They will focus on high growth and do whatever they can to help you achieve this. But do they really understand your values, culture and team? Is their agenda 100% aligned with yours?
You may be a serial entrepreneur who has learnt from previous business mistakes and have many battle scars. But what if you do not have any experience yet? For many, the opportunity to achieve phenomenal business growth comes as a once in a lifetime opportunity. One that you do not want to throw away.
This book draws on the significant experience of successful founders and leaders from some of the fastest growing tech businesses in the UK. Celebrating their success, it illuminates the paths you too can take if you are to follow in their pioneering footsteps. It will help you ask key questions at pivotal times and find the right answers and solutions for you and your business.
Many start their journey, not realising the commitment and personal sacrifice required to succeed. The real achievement is to create sustained growth and a lasting legacy without giving up everything you hold dear in the rest of your life. You might have very understanding family and friends, a 10 year plan and an agreement to put the business first then leave it all behind for a life of wealthy leisure. In the meantime, life happens and you may find yourself missing important milestones as you become a stranger to yourself and those you care about. Hopefully, you will have worked out how to avoid this and achieve some sort of balance. But as your business growth accelerates, this will become more and more challenging. If you do not take the right actions and share the load with a trusted team, the demands of the business will become unbearable.
If you want to build a significant business, your life’s work perhaps, and not jump ship early then read this book. It will show you the way to achieve sustained success without sacrificing everything else that is important to you.
Many UK companies have shown incredible early success only to be bought by international giants who operate with different agendas, constraints and cultures. Founders see their pride and joy, built up over many years, rapidly turn to dust. The wealth they generated enables a comfortable lifestyle and the ability to invest and nurture other founders’ new businesses. But this will never be the same as the pride they felt in their own company. It will never make up for losing their personal legacy.
If you look to achieve rapid success and wealth through a quick sale of your business, without caring what you leave behind, then this book is not for you. If you want to be proud of your immense achievement and establish a legacy that lasts, Hunters in the Digital Age can help you understand what it takes to do this.
The book is divided into 3 sections.
Part I, Stories, shares the stories of extraordinarily successful UK businesses as well as my own journey of learning and discovery. Each unique story reveals significant keys to success and can be read in isolation or with the other stories to form a more comprehensive picture, thus helping develop depth of understanding.
Part II, The Founders’ World, shares the perspectives and world views of successful founders. These are very different to those of the many who have followed the well trodden path of employment in established organisations. Introducing The Map of Growth, Part II reveals the key paths to success and the classic traps and minefields to avoid.
Part III, Finding Your Way, shows you essential questions to ask and when to ask them so that you can find your own answers and paths towards phenomenal growth and a legacy that endures.