Lyndon Wood started constructaquote.com in 1990 – based in Caerphilly in south Wales, Lyndon’s home town, and employs over 100 people.
Lyndon is a serial entrepreneur and since starting constructaquote.com has also launched other businesses including Xbroker, Sunzu and CuriousHow.
In 2012, Lyndon wrote a book called Diary of a Fortune Hunter, which gives the reader week-by-week business advice based on Lyndon’s experiences launching and growing constructaquote.com.
He also had a Sky TV show based on his book, Fortune Hunter TV. The show aired on Sky TV every Tuesday and joined Lyndon as he chatted to business gurus or fellow successful entrepreneurs about the lessons they learnt through building their businesses, and guidance for budding start-ups just starting their journey into the world of business.
Lyndon is dedicated to commerce and entrepreneurship and is proud that constructaquote.com supports UK tradesmen and women, and independent companies to properly insure and protect their businesses.
Check out some business insight from Lyndon below…
In your eyes, what are the three key attributes to be successful in business?
Flexibility, problem solving and financial skills. You need to be agile in business, whatever industry you’re working in, because if you can’t adapt you’re going to find yourself either in trouble sooner or later or you’ll miss out on some great opportunities. In today’s marketplace there is no room for complacency.
You have to have your eyes and ears everywhere both within your sector and out of it to secure the wider vision and to take advantage of the opportunities, of which there are many.
Having the capacity and positive mind-set to find solutions to problems (which will always come up when you least expect them) and knowing exactly what you’re doing with your finances helps. You need to know your profit and loss margins by product or service type, at the very least, or you will not know where to scale and how to do it.
How much has the business climate changed since you were starting out aged 19 to now…is it in any way comparable?
Businesses and the way we do business is constantly changing but the fundamentals are the same – having the flexibility and open-mindedness to change direction and to adapt to market conditions quickly. Customer demand as well as customer feedback is very important.
These days I coach/mentor many start-up, intermediate and advanced firms and I like to remind them that investment in marketing is a must.
Invest 25-30% of your turnover in it. Around 150 million new businesses close down every year around the world – customers no longer simply walk through the door. Business owners have to do a lot more to entice people to buy a product or service whatever that may be, so you have to be extremely driven, ambitious, be customer centric and have a strong plan that you can measure against.
How important is a degree/Masters/further qualifications to business success? Is it harder to be a ‘self-made straight from school’ entrepreneur these days?
I set up my first business at the age of 16 then at the age of 19, in August 1990, at the start of the big recession, with zero capital, no qualifications, and in debt of £14,000 – after leaving school at the age of 14 I set up my insurance business.
It was a very challenging, highly competitive industry full of older people so I had no respect from anyone. I took my insurance business Constructaquote.com, part of Moorhouse Group Ltd, to become a UK top 100 specialist insurance broker, and Wales’ largest independent broker, specialising in the SME market both online and offline. I still own 100% of the business today which has grown organically with zero investment.
I’m not saying this is the right move for everyone but it was right for me as I’ve always been driven and high functioning. Know How is always better than Knowledge.
Spend four years studying or get out there and do something about your life. You can be a millionaire in four years. Don’t get me wrong, certain career paths do require you to study and get degrees but many do not and you can learn in many ways and formats, as you grow.
How has technology (cryptocurrency/24/7 access to finance and contacts etc,) changed the face of business? For the better? Or easier 20 years ago?
Being in business now versus 29 years ago is different. The pace is much faster, more opportunistic, and customer demands and visibility are much higher.
Technology has been a real opportunity for us because I love my tech and was able to be an early adopter. To enter the space now is more challenging. Technology has made things easier and has allowed us to take products to customers using a variety of distribution channels that didn’t exist 29 years ago. Our audience has become more global rather than local because technology has empowered that movement.
Internal systems and processes have become much quicker, so we are able to process something that may have taken 30 minutes in just one minute. This allows for quick scalability by focusing on marketing and there is less time invested on processes because our technology serves that well. This allows for much better customer service and interaction.
Three things to avoid when setting up a business…
Investing blindly – setting up your own business seems to be more popular than ever and it’s a great thing if done properly, but it seems that many people are not doing enough research, not differentiating in the market and as a result thousands of SMEs fail in their first year.
Why would you put your hard-earned money into a sector that you haven’t researched? And if you haven’t researched, how do you know who your customers are and what they want and need? I like speed which in my mind beats perfection because you can always refine things once live.
Investing your cash should be done with your eyes wide open and you need to understand both the risks and the upside. Mitigate the risks and expand. It’s always nervy and makes your legs shake when setting up something brand new, even now I get the same feeling, but I know the stages to go through to protect any downside and plan properly – 29 years ago and even 15 years ago I was a lot more gung-ho.
Over Consumption – I see this all too often. You get hit with content overload! An over consumption of information is always more confusing than anything else you will experience. Do this then don’t do this or do something this way then don’t do it that way. It disables you because when you lack the experience and your believe what you read and if what you read then contradicts, you stop and get lost again then never start because of all the uncertainties.
Minimise what you read and only listen to experience. Don’t forget that you also have an opinion so take it all in and make your own call. Information and knowledge gathering is great but rifle things in and out as you move along.
Do not focus on your competitors –This is another big mistake for start-ups. You do not have to find the “gap”. Someone is always doing it somewhere. I have seen time and time again people giving up and saying, “They are already doing it so I can’t”.
Would Amazon have ever setup if they’d said, “They already sell books” or where would Netflix be if they’d said, “Sky already do that”? There are countless examples out there.
The point is its okay to copy a business model then differentiate it, create a better service, produce better quality, add something extra, to consider distribution methods and to implement new technology. Stop wasting time trying to find the gap and just do something better and be world class at it.