In 2005, Brad Burton was £25,000 in personal debt, delivering pizzas to keep his start-up marketing business afloat, whilst having to deal with his wife demanding that he “go get a proper job.” He ignored her and is now Managing Director of 4Networking, the fastest growing business networking organisation in the world – running over 5,000+ events each year in the UK alone. Brad is also a bestselling author and the UK’s No.1 motivational business speaker – regularly speaking at the biggest UK business shows & companies. Brad’s high energy and raw approach to speaking & business always offers fun, laughs and occasionally tears. Brad is sharp, incisive and funny in his observations about life and in particular the challenges of running your own business.
Easyspace recently caught up with Brad for a chat:
Q1. Brad, tell us a little bit about your background and about your business.
1973, born, Salford, Dad left, primary school, computer games, role-playing games, class clown, no qualifications, shop boy, BMX bikes, girls, chalet cleaner, night clubbing, pothead, more girls, games journalist, Dad, shot at, moved away, depressed, dole, more pot, shop manager, blagged CV head of marketing, dole, director, Oxford sucked, dole, three days away from bankruptcy, father again, depressed, maisonette above a chippy, married, employed, shove job up arse, self-employed, depression, skint, skint, skint, whinging wife, author, Dad again, stopped smoking pot, 4Networking, bluffing, struggling, speaking, still skint, skint, skint, Dad, 5,000+ events a year, uh oh, keynote speaker, bought dream Range Rover Sport, still waiting to be found out, sold dream Range Rover Sport, author again, people are buying them, scratches head, burned out, near divorce, crisis averted, just, snapped up by top publisher for third book, still waiting to be found out.
Q2. Where does that drive to be your own boss come from? Why did you decide the life of a 9-5 employee was not for you?
I recognised that I could work 40-60-100-hours a week for my employer and the house and life that I wanted at the time, would never have been possible. If I wanted it to happen I had to get out there and make it happen.
Q3. In the early days, how difficult was it growing 4Networking i.e. establishing networking groups, getting customers, promoting it across the UK, etc?
Setting up a single networking group is relatively easy, but setting up an entire UK wide joined up network with over 5,000 events each year requires a whole different set of skills, infrastructure and is full of challenges. The truth is, it’s been a long arduous journey with many personal sacrifices along the way but I wouldn’t change a single thing!
Q4. Describe what happens at one of your 4Networking meetings, and what advice would you give to entrepreneurs attending for the first time?
Spend 100% of the time being 100% you. Let me ask you this, would you pass a lead, a referral, a job, a contact to someone you didn’t like, know or trust yet? Of course not, so on that basis, don’t expect others to forgo the same checks as you.
Q5. You’ve spoken to & met thousands of people who run their own businesses. What do you think it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?
- That you don’t call yourself an entrepreneur, let others call you that.
- The understanding that you are the master of your own destiny, there is no cavalry and success and failure is all down to you.
- BIG balls
- The ability to put it all on the line. Why? Because you KNOW you are not going to fail.
Q6. What advice would you give to somebody thinking of starting their own business?
It’s gonna take 4 times longer than the spreadsheet you did for the bank manager says. It’s easy making money on spreadsheets, I’ve done it loads of times… Spreadsheet millionaire. The real world of making money is a whole lot more challenging.
Q7. What advice would you give to a startup which is struggling to generate sales/leads?
What are you waiting for? If you’re waiting for perfect conditions, guess what, you’re going to be waiting a very long time. That thing you are avoiding doing, cold calls, networking, whatever that is, start doing it today, it’s not going to get easier. The longer you run, the weaker you become. Deal with it NOW. . Get out there and get on with it or don’t. As with everything in life the choice is yours.
Q8. What tips can you give to keep entrepreneurs motivated, especially when things aren’t going as they hoped.
I wanted to quit 10 times, so keep going 11 times. Often the difference between success and failure is not quitting. If you have a Plan B, its because you don’t believe in your Plan A, don’t get frustrated if others don’t believe in your Plan A either.
Q9. You have written two bestselling books and have now just published a third: ‘Life. Business. Just Got Easier’ – tell us about your books and what people can learn from them.
Get Off Your Arse, a book about the reality of setting up a business, in my case, box-room isolation, a whinging wife, delivering pizzas at weekend to keep my business afloat, the tricks you are going to have to play on yourself to win through to the next stage…
Get Off Your Arse Too, how as a business owner, you can use any adversity you have encountered from your life, not as most do, as a negative, but as a positive.
Life. Business. Just Got Easier, is a book I am so proud of, it really is changing the people who read it life, business, thinking and direction… In some cases all 4! Its about understanding why you are doing what you do, what to do when its really tough and how you already have the ingredients for success… Perhaps the recipe needs refining, the book is about helping you find the right recipe.
Q10. Regarding business startups, what’s your thoughts on “one man bands” vs setting up a business with a partner(s) &/or surrounding yourself with a team?
By all means surround yourself with a team, but in my experience in a partnership someone needs to be Batman, the majority shareholder and someone needs to be Robin or it’s a recipe for disaster somewhere down the line, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but somewhere into the future. If you want partners perhaps an option is (at least initially) your own separate businesses but work together.
That’s the beauty of 4Networking you know, businesses of all sizes, actively working together on a subcontract basis. I have surrounded myself with a loyal team, but I think its fair to say I’ve kissed many frogs on the way. Whats great today, may not be great tomorrow.
Q11. Do you use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc, to promote your websites? How successful has it been for you? Any advice on how businesses can use social media to promote themselves?
I use them all. I’ve a LinkedIn Account, but its a bit too “square” for me. With my @BradBurton twitter account, I’ve done over 175,000 tweets and built over 100,000+ followers, it’s fair to say it’s successful for me. The great thing about all social media is that it’s free, all it costs you is a little bit of time. But add some personality to your social media, boring business tweets get ignored. Social media is essential and MD’s and CEO’s who choose to dismiss it will find themselves out of step with their customers. Lets connect!
Q12. What mistakes have you made in your business, and what would you have done differently?
A mistake is only a mistake after the event up til then it’s the right thing. Experience is what you win when you lose, and having the experience means I’m less likely to make the same mistakes again.
Q13. What’s it like managing 4Networking? Describe your typical day.
8million emails a day. Morning consists of 4N meet then gym. 2pm it’s a power nap followed by playing GTA V in bed. Some days I’ll drive 400 miles and do 3 speaking gigs. You know when you run your own business there are enough hours in the day, you just need to be brave enough to go “Walk the dog. LOL” at 3pm if you can’t be bothered working, when you’re on fire, do that work. But so many people spend their days doing what I call “Dicking about” pretending to be busy, drafting proposals that they know deep down are not going to go anywhere. Not me, I concentrate on little and often with my work ethic. Work when I on fire, rest when I want to.
Q14. Which entrepreneur/person has inspired you the most & why?
Dana White, CEO Ultimate Fighting Champions, I like his style like his approach. He took a massive gamble bringing cage fighting from a multi-million dollar, fringe loss making company, to a mainstream, billion dollar organisation which has turned the combat sports game on its head. He’s a modern day honest leader, sweary but for every person he switches off, he switches 10 on. Welcome to my world.
Q15. What are your future plans?
I have just taken out a hundred year freehold lease on a hollow volcano, My plan is to become a James Bond esque baddie, i’m actively recruiting for 100 special force soldiers and have their orange boiler suits & submachine guns, delivered a week Thursday.
The truth is, I want to continue having more fun, enjoying what I do and continuing to make a positive difference to those I in some way reach through 4Networking, my books or speaking gigs.
Thanks Brad, from everyone at Easyspace.