How I Started a
Successful Networking Business
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
I am Brad Burton, the UK’s #1 motivational business speaker. I am best known as founder of 4Networking, the largest joined-up business network in the UK.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I have no qualifications to my name. My teachers told me I would never amount to anything (and for the first 31 years of my life, they were right ;). My hobbies are computer games, gym and making a positive difference to the world.
I decided to start 4Networking when I started my own consultancy business and realised I needed to find a way to get leads. As a small business owner, the dice are stacked against you, and I wanted to level out the playing field.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
My biggest challenge was my whinging wife. She didn’t believe in me, or the business. Luckily I had enough belief for both of us so had to turn down the noise from her in order to keep going. She has since apologised for having doubted me in the first place.
However, I can’t say I blame her. I started the business with 25k of personal debt. Hardly the best foundations! I was constantly laughed at in the early days, as I was essentially changing the whole game of business networking…bringing true innovation into the networking world, which was at the time predominantly old fashioned and fuddy-duddy.
Who is your target market?
Micro to small business owners. Sub 10 employees. Looking for business growth and appointments
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
100% Word of mouth. We create something that everyone talks about and wants to be a part of. There is no better advertising out there.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
‘Celebritising’ the board – making them personalities in the business. Also putting the member at the heart of the network. If our members are happy they stay. If our members stay, we are happy. Win / win!
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
Our culture is one of fun, innovation and inclusiveness. Too many people take themselves and their lives too seriously. Business can be fun, hence why our strapline is 50% social, 50% business, and it works. Because it really DOES work. We all share a collective vision to make a positive difference.
Team building methods? Regularly getting drunk and having curries and social get togethers.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
We have our own unique software and applications.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
It will take 4 times longer than your business plan says! 92% of people don’t do what they say they are going to do.
A mistake is only a mistake after the event. Up until that point, it was the correct decision. So we are mindful to make decisions fast, utilising the 24 24 24 method. If you can’t make a decision in 24 seconds, you have 24 minutes. If you can’t make a decision within 24 minutes, you have 24 hours. If, after 24 hours you still haven’t made a decision, you actually kind of have. It wasn’t important enough so therefore it’s no. Simple but ever so effective.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The freedom to do it your way!
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
There is nowhere to hide.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
“The Netflix of networking”