Posted 6th February 2018
Money matters but starting your own business must be an affair of the heart, not just a question of the head. Our founder and chairman Ian Baxter discusses how business is his passion and why entrepreneurs need to love what they do.
I’m a capitalist who has made lots of money. So of course, I’m focused on wealth creation – no investment can be counted as successful unless and until it generates a return.
Yet for me, triumph means a lot more than my bank balance.
It’d be wonderful if you could build a successful business around your hobby, but most companies carry out functions that are unlikely to set our hearts racing.
For example, I’m in freight. There are challenges in moving people’s goods around the world and we do get to work for some great companies but, fundamentally, freight in itself is quite dull. Despite this, I absolutely love my company.
Firstly, it’s an expression of me. I chose the name, the business concept, my partners, our team, the branding, our strategy, our values, the premises and the furniture. It’s my baby. And like all babies, it can keep me awake at night but at the end of the day, it’s enjoyable and – dare I say – has its father’s eyes. Maybe.
Secondly, I love Baxter Freight because it’s a challenge and I love, and frankly, need a challenge. It’s tough and sometimes stressful but it’s different every day and never boring or mundane.
The things we do matter – to our customers and to us. I’m proud of what we do. I take pride that we are one of the most competitive and reliable businesses in our sector, well on our way to a market-leading position.
From a standing start just four years ago, we have reached a milestone of handling more than 100,000 shipments. It’s great that we have been able to help so many fantastic companies – including some well-known brands – by improving their logistics, adding value to their business by offering them the most suitable products at a competitive price.
I love the fact that we do business ethically, treating everyone fairly, whatever the situation. We work to build strong relationships with our customers and suppliers, helping them to grow so we can grow together.
Next, I love the people. Of course, people can sometimes be grumpy, unreasonable, ungrateful and annoying. Have you looked in the mirror recently? But they can also be hard working, generous, creative, funny and show tremendous commitment and enthusiasm for the cause. I try to think the best of people, whether customers, suppliers or staff.
Good relationships are at the absolute core of what it is to do business well. When people visit us, we are often complimented on how friendly everyone is. This isn’t just because we have selected a disproportionately friendly group of people to work here – it’s because people react to how they’re treated and we’re passionate about treating them well.
Which brings me to fun. At Baxter Freight we like to celebrate success so we applaud every time someone wins a next account. When a customer sends a compliment, we stick it on our “wall of praise”.
The success of our business depends on the strength of our team, so we want to build a community – minimising hierarchy and maximising collaboration and support. We regularly go out together, to play football, watch cricket, have some drinks or share a meal. If it’s your birthday, we’ll even sing to you and people normally bring in cakes.
I’m conscious that I’ve painted quite a rosy picture. Yet I know as much as anyone that business is never all “honey and sunshine”. Starting out on your own is tough and sometimes scary. Many new businesses fail and money is usually very tight.
It’s wonderful to have the freedom to make all your own decisions, but it can be lonely when all the decisions are yours alone to make. It truly is a brilliant learning curve but that’s only because there are so many new things to master – and many of them are difficult.
I’m not arguing that you should love what you do because everything is lovely. In truth, my business life has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. I just believe that in business you have to set your state of mind to positive.
Train yourself to celebrate even the smallest success, focus on enjoying working with and serving people, relish the challenges, opportunities and freedom that running your business gives and above all, remember not to beat yourself up when things go wrong.
Learn to love what you do.