WW#004: My Inspiration

What inspires you?

All too often we think about what we do, but rarely we think about why we do it.

We’re often inspired by our parents. Unfortunately, I write this post a year after my Dad passed away, which was also just two weeks before our first child was born. It was an incredibly difficult time. The juxtaposition of saying goodbye to my Dad whilst welcoming my Son to the world (& during Covid).

My dad was a senior manager of an engineering company – he would get dropped into the worst areas to troubleshoot. He’d get things back on track, unafraid of having the uncomfortable conversations or removing individuals causing problems. Those poor-performing areas would go on to be the top-performers, with most of the same team on board.

I was so inspired by my dad. That he could make such a difference to people and then come home and talk for hours with my mum about how he was dealing with the various situations was amazing to me. I absorbed all of it, and it gave me the framework of what it meant to be a manager.

When I went on my own entrepreneurial journey, I eventually landed in an environmental consultancy that grew over 12 years from three of us, up to 50 people. But for the first six years or so, when there were only nine or ten of us, we really struggled: we were so focussed on doing that we hadn’t thought about our company culture, or what we needed (or even how) to build a high performing team. We weren’t thinking about our why. It’s vital to know why you’re doing what you do, otherwise you’re never going to succeed.

Once we’d made that cognitive switch, we virtually tripled our turnover within a year and I had to grow the team up to 35 people within two years, as well as getting a graduate programme up and running.

But this came with its own problems. By this point, I was in the MD role, and struggling. I had a big team, the beginnings of an ulcer, and no support network to speak of. Once I’d found that support network though, I realised it was invaluable. I was able to continue growing the company’s success, until I made the decision to move on in 2016.

After working across several other companies in the design and tech industry, and after Covid hit, I found myself wondering ‘what do I do now’? I’d started a family and needed something where I could work in a more flexible way, but it needed to be something I was passionate about. And so it came back to those two early experiences: my dad, the troubleshooter, and the support network that had helped me manage and sustain the growth of the environmental consultancy.

Doing what I do now – supporting people in their scaling journey – combines the two things and really drives me. I love to guide leaders in cementing their company purpose, vision and values, so they can grow their businesses with a team that shares their passion. Because I’ve been there myself, I know how invaluable that help really is: it’s the support I wish I’d had when I was scaling my business.

Get in touch today and start your own scaling journey, and remember, it all starts with ‘Why?’

Find out how I could help you with planning, mindset, culture & scaling in as little as 1 hour a month...

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James Potten


On a mission to democratise entrepreneurship by providing access to best practice, helping startups sustainably scale up.