Expert Q&A: David Holland

David Holland is an international speaker, trainer, presenter, and author. He runs training company Results Rules OK from France. Here’s an insight into his journey.

david holland1. When did you realise you wanted to start your own business?

I never knew anything different. My parents were in retailing and I just assumed that’s what people did; I never really understood how “jobs” actually worked. From the age of 5, I would work in the shops at weekends, stacking shelves, making the coffee, sweeping up and serving customers, being part of the family business was all I knew really…

When I was 15, however, Dad told me that the business would not be there for me to move into and that I had to go and get a Trade or a Job somewhere else, which came as a bit of a shock. First I ended up living rough, eating at charity shelters and sleeping at train stations; I got to know Liverpool St and Kings Cross Stations really well. For those that remember, there was a Casey Jones Burger Bar at Liverpool St station back then, I had breakfast lunch and dinner there when funds allowed on several occasions…

I finally ended up “working for someone else” for a few years after that, but I always knew that any job was just part of my Entrepreneurial Apprenticeship and it was teaching me what I needed to be in business for myself.

I did 12 years of “night school” catching up on all that I had missed out on at proper school – how hard would you work if you thought you’d inherit a business at 17…?

So, I guess I have always been in business for myself, it’s just that for a while I was in “training mode” – and the best thing was being paid by someone else during the process. In every job I had, I treated it as if I owned the business anyway and by time I was 32, I was back running my own company again…

2. How did you get started and what was the biggest hurdle you overcame?

We had an idea that it would be great if we could live in France; we had no idea how to achieve it but it had been a Dream for a while. One of the things I have learned is that having an ideas is nothing unless we do something about it. So we just rented a house and moved here, bought a car, started the business from nothing and hoped for the best. Literally…
Running a Business Coaching and Training Company in a country where we don’t even speak the language was “insane”, “stupid” and “ridiculous” – or at least that is what we were told. So we ignored all that and just got on with it, the first 12 months were tough. We lived on value baked beans and spaghetti hoops for a while, but we had a passionate belief that we could make it work. During the first 12 months we built our website from scratch, and I decided to write a book, thinking it would help with the marketing and differentiation of our business; as we had no clients I ended up writing 48 Books in 16 months…

Then one day, I was invited to be a speaker at a Networking Event in Luxembourg – they speak English there. I was asked to tell my story about how we had ended up in France via Las Vegas and all over the UK, so I simply summarised what I had written in my first book about Charity Food, various Identity Parades, selling Blood, and even my exploits as a Driver for a nice group of chaps in Bethnal Green.

Turns out that in the audience was the Managing Director for one of the biggest Banks in the world – he liked my story and invited me for lunch. This was my big break, we all need one. We have worked with the Bank of New York Mellon ever since and since and gave us the credibility and confidence to attract other clients as a result.

The biggest hurdle we overcame was only being able to work with Clients that speak English, we have no clients in the country in which we live; we now have clients in over 11 countries throughout the world, however.

3. What’s been your most successful way of getting clients?

Most of our Clients come to us because they see me speak or present on stage somewhere, telling my life story and what I have learned about becoming successful both personally and professionally. Having the Books has made a huge difference too, they have enabled us to put our message out there to a global audience.

Most of our Clients now come through referrals and introductions, but being on stage with a good story has been the most successful way we have attracted Clients, plus I enjoy it too.

I think that one of our key differentiators and therefor attractors is that we have actually “walked the walk” and continue to do so. There are plenty of “gurus” who will tell you what to do in order to make more money, achieve success or build a business; but they have never actually done it themselves. Credibility has therefore been extremely helpful; keeping our promises and being true to our word has enabled us to establish a positive reputation; and in common with most business owners, we don’t have a brand, and reputation is everything…

4. How do you get clients to stay with you and use you for more work?

Simple – Results.

It’s why we named the company Results Rules OK; because they do…!

We have the best clients in world and providing they continue to get great results in their business, they stay with us; some have been with us now for over 10 years. My view has always been that working with a Business Coach should not be a “cost” to anyone, if the Coach is good, the business should grow by much more than the investment in Coaching. This approach means that we have to deliver great value all the time; a rule that applies to just about any successful business in my experience.

5. Do you ever have issues with clients paying late? How do you manage that?

Rarely, if ever.

Because we build close relationships with everyone we work with, even in the big corporates, if there are any issues they get sorted out quickly because they like us and we are good people to do business with. We send out chocolate bars with invoices and thank people for payments, so it is rare that they don’t pay…

Money is not the primary focus of our business, of course we want to make money and grow, but we also know that if we add enough value to other people’s lives and businesses then the money shows up. We have budgets, forecasts and cash flow statements, but I’m more interested in how the clients are doing, when they do well, we do well, and they pay us on time too…

If we have anyone who doesn’t pay , we always resolve it amicably. A couple of times with a client when a huge bill has hit them from somewhere else, we give them more time and agree a schedule of payments that work for them. I have learned that we are in the relationship business and it has to show up in all that we do, and so far it is working…

6. What does your typical work day look like?

We choose to run our business in 3 or perhaps 4 days a week – long weekends for travel, reading and attending events are important to us.

Lynn, my wife looks after all the operational aspects of the business and Jon, our eldest son, looks after all the design, media and web aspects of the business.

I am only part of a team here, and I have a narrow job description which means I am only allowed to do the following;

· Writing and developing content.

· Coaching Clients.

· Workshops.

· Selling.

So a typical day will start at around 06.30 and I will do my Blog posts, write content for my books and catch up on Emails and Social Media. By around 09.00 I will usually be on the telephone or Skype with Clients depending in their time zone, most of the Coaching is done over the ‘phone or by video conference.

I arrange sales meetings during the day, I have a rule of holding two of these each week, or I may spend a day delivering a Workshop, flying off to do deliver a Key Note at a conference or present a Seminar to a room of Business owners in the evening.

In reality, there is a very blurred line between work and life – the two are totally entwined. Hanging round with my clients and flying off to deliver a Conference Presentation somewhere has never seemed like work to me, I love what I do so it is all

7. Any piece of advice/wisdom that you’d like to give the readers at Business Unleashed?

Decide what you want your life to look like and then build your professional life around it – not the other way round.

Build a dream and go for it, you will be amazed at what happens when you let go of everything and start a new venture, it is the scariest and most rewarding thing you can do. If you want to live in Italy, the USA or Australia; sell up and get on the plane. Use that mind-set in all that you do…

When we took our business to Las Vegas, we were told we were mad. We sold everything and arrived at McCarran with a couple of suitcases; bought a truck and got on with it. Did the same again when we landed at Charles de Gaulle; actually brought the truck with us this time, bought a hatchback anyway, and started again; if you are serious about having fun then now is the time to make it happen..

Be prepared to work like a dog and live on cheap food with no holidays for a while – success comes in blue overalls not white collars…

Lots of people say that they wish they could do what we do – live in Vegas or France, travel, and write books etc. – but they always have an excuse why they couldn’t. The excuses are usually, family ties, lack of time, knowledge; and none of them are really true, unless of course you let them.

Oh yes – and if you are going to take advice on building your remarkable business and life, take it from people who have actually been there and done it, not someone sat in the back room of a 3 bed semi in the back end of Telford or anywhere else for that matter…

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