Self-Starter Stories: From being a Nurse to founding a running training movement
This week's #selfstarterstory features John White, founder of We Run. A running coaching service based business operating throughout the UK.
#PickYourselfUK caught up with John to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey.
Looking back, what lead you to be where you are today?: I've always had an entrepreneurial streak, but I think that only gets you so far. The most critical factor which underpins everything I've achieved with We Run is a fundamental belief in the value of the service we offer. Without that I think I'd have given up somewhere along the way!
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: There is no handbook, so you really have to fumble your way through, and because you're just starting, you have no credibility. No credibility in the eyes of others, in the eyes of your customers, but crucially, in your own eyes. Generating and maintaining self-belief can be a real struggle!
What did you want to be when you were a child?: A stunt man!
What was your last job?: I am a registered Nurse, and up until 3 weeks ago I was still working as a Nurse in the NHS. I've grown the company in the last 3.5 years alongside working (for the majority of that time working full-time) in various nursing roles including Coronary Care, Intensive Care and the community. This included irregular shift work, including night shifts, so that certainly presented an additional challenge!
When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: I suppose it depends how you look at it. The decision to take the plunge and start the company was obviously a pivotal moment, but I had the backup of my nursing career so it felt low-risk. There have been numerous occasions over the last 3.5 years where I was close to giving up, and deciding to carry on was a form of 'picking myself' and sticking with the dream.
Most recently, we have relocated from London to Shropshire, and I've taken the next step and am now running the business full-time. Of all of these moments, the most recent feels the most important, and for me represents the moment I really chose to 'pick myself'.
What did you learn from your worst boss?: The importance of being human, and treating people well.
What is your favourite business book and why?: Either Stephen Covey's '7 Habits of Highly Effective People', which is full of excellent advice for self-management. The breakdown of quadrant 1, 2, 3 & 4 tasks on its own makes it a book worth reading. The E-Myth by Michael Gerber is also excellent on the value of creating a business in a disciplined fashion.
Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: I have bootstrapped almost everything aside from the actual running coaching. I built our website, created all of the systems and organisation, took all of the photos used on the site, recruited all of our coaches. Very recently I have started to outsource some of the graphic design work and some of the more technical web development tasks.
What is your productivity secret?: I eat all of my frogs for breakfast! Meaning I do all of the tasks that repel me the most, first.
What is your favourite app?: Not business-related would probably be Strava (I'm a keen runner and cyclist). Business-related, I use IFTTT, Google Sheets/Docs/Drive and Trello a lot.
How do you market your business?: Google, Social Media (both paid and organic), running magazines
When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: Via our website
How did you get your first traffic to your website?: That's top secret!
If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: Elon Musk. He's taking us to Mars, redefining the car industry and most recently hooking our brains up to computers! He will go down in history.
To keep up to date with John's journey, connect with him via his social media channels below:
John White has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.