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My four key business learnings from leading a young startup – now I’ve said goodbye

Having taken up the leadership mantle at Ormsby Street for a few months, Robert Drury shares his four key business learnings from startup land.
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It’s been a couple of months since Martin Campbell wrote a Founder’s Diary entry whereby he looked at saying goodbye to the Ormsby Street team and the company he founded.

I then followed this up the following month with an entry about taking over from a founder, and it’s been nothing but change since then.

So much so that in the first two months in my new role the business has been bought, and we’re owned by a well-funded US company now. What that means though is, with the new structure in place, I’m now on my way to pastures new like Martin.

Ultimately, the business being purchased by a larger organisation was part of the plan developed on day one of the business. We aimed to quickly build a platform that worked, prove that customers want it, prove that you can get customers to pay for it without you paying too much to get them on board, and then dangle the business in front of someone with more cash than you have so that they can invest and help the business grow.

And it’s worked. However, the downside to this is that sometimes the new owners have their own teams and their own structures that they want to work in and it means that some of the people in the original business aren’t required to continue on the journey with the product.

So, what are my key business learnings in the more than three years I’ve been at Ormsby Street?

  • The plan is never a plan you can stick to. Too many things will change and you will need to adapt to many things along the way
  • Hiring people for their attitude is much more preferable to hiring them for their skills or their CV. The good ones will help you figure out what they need to be doing and importantly what you should be doing
  • Customers will never quite do what you expect them to do, so absolutely ask them what they want, but also just watch what they do, because the two things won’t always end up the same
  • Nobody is irreplaceable. Some are more difficult to replace and some you should have replaced way sooner than you did.

And now onto something new…

This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.

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About Author

Robert Drury

Robert Drury is head of product and operations at fintech business Ormsby Street, where he heads up everything non-technical for the company. Drury has worked as a digital professional since 2000, delivering digital campaigns and platforms, after previous careers in the cinema industry and as a professional footballer.

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