‘Focusing on the wildly important is what matters the most’
Starting your own company is a brave decision, and the road to success is fraught with difficulty. So, why do business leaders start their own companies and what are they aiming to achieve when all is said and done? We spoke to Richard Lane, CCO of durhamlane, about their journey in business.
When did you establish your first business and what inspired you to set it up?
Lee (Durham) and I created durhamlane in 2011 to help raise the bar in sales and change the perception of the sales industry. When people think about sales, the first thing that comes to mind is often cold calling, but these days a much warmer, mutually beneficial approach proves more successful.
One of our founding goals for durhamlane, which remains true today, is that we want as many people as possible to see that sales is a career to be proud of and that sales skills will serve you well throughout your life and career – business and personal. 12 years in and we’ve certainly helped many people see sales and selling in a different light.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur or did the desire develop over time?
From age 15 I believed I was going to be a rock star. A career in sales and being a business owner in some ways mirrors what I might have achieved if I had achieved a career in music – the opportunity to be creative, to connect with many different people, and to perform in front of an audience, albeit without my guitar.
I have always been comfortable with the employer/employee relationship, so entrepreneurship has developed in me over time. However, sales roles are entrepreneurial in nature, so I guess it’s been bubbling away since I started out in the world of work.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career and how have you overcome them?
Putting my ‘feet in the shoes of others’ has always come naturally to me. This has helped me overcome one of the biggest challenges in business – connecting with others to achieve goals!
As a founder and business leader, one of my proudest moments is how we managed through, and overcame, the complexities served up by the Covid-19 pandemic. A unique and unknown state that required hour-by-hour leadership. As a business fuelled by people, durhamlane came out stronger. I believe this was because we did the right things, at the right time, for our people and for our customers.
As a business, we’re leading the way in integrating marketing and sales activities whilst putting the customer in the centre of the picture. We have always been big advocates of building long-term relationships and it’s more important than ever before to build trusted customer relationships.
Is there anything you wish you knew before you first started out?
That focusing on the wildly important is what matters the most. We spent too long trying to do too many things for too many different customer types. As soon as we focused, our revenues accelerated.
What is your top tip for other entrepreneurs?
My advice for entrepreneurs is to always look for opportunities to learn and develop, work hard and be inquisitive. One of the best pieces of advice I received when starting out, was the value of respecting not only the time of others but my own time too. Our goal is to spend our time where we can be most successful, but it’s easy to forget the value of our own time when focusing on others.
What are your plans for the future?
The mission continues… to build a highly respected and valued business with a global footprint, amazing people and wonderful customers. I am also 14 years behind writing a book that will introduce our Selling at a Higher Level methodology to the world, so I need to get on with that.
What would you like your legacy to be?
As someone with humility and ambition who helped others to be successful by leading through example. I believe everyone has potential; it just needs to be understood and then unlocked.
If I can get a nod for helping Sales be seen as a professional career, one that is taken seriously by business groups and sign-posted by higher educational establishments, that’d be great too.