Burnout: Small Business Edition
Updated: Apr 9, 2021
Last week I spoke with Will Fraser and Tom Bednall from 100 & First about:
Burnout and how it can impact small businesses
Have a listen and make sure to subscribe to stay updated! Transcript below.
You can find the full LIVE here on my YouTube Channel or you can catch them as they happen via my LinkedIn.
Can't Miss Links from the podcast:
- The Calling Bullsh*t On Your Diet (Plan)
- Achieving Audacious Dreams: Alexi Pappas Is Bravey | Rich Roll Podcast
And we're live. Hi, guys. How are you?
Good, how are you?
Good, good. So for all of LinkedIn that is watching us right now, if you don't know who I am, my name is Katie, I am the founder of Get Your Sh*t Together--Literally and Figuratively, where I talk about the impact that stress and anxiety has on the body and the mind. And today, I have two wonderful guests from 100 & First. We've got Will and Tom. And then we're just going to have a bit of a chat today about burnout about the last year and what's going on. And I don't think there's a better time to start talking about it, especially with new reports coming out saying that workplace stress and stress in general has risen by 20%. So burnout is about to spike as well. So I think that there is no better time to speak to two people who launched their business in between lockdown one and lockdown two, built it up while they were on furlough. And I am not going to say any more, I'm going to put it over to Tom and Will so, if you don't mind introducing yourselves. And Tom, you go first. And then and then we'll and then tell us a little bit about your story.
No problem. Well, first of all, thanks for having us. It's great to jump on here. I'm Tom Bednall from 100 & First, the commercial director, and and Will talk shortly but yeah, I'll give Will that give him the mic. Because he's our number one. This is his baby. I'm here in support team. But ya know, we---. And I think it's a bit good to catch up to that.
Will Fraser MD and founder of 100 & First, which still gives me ultimate imposter syndrome, saying, I'm a managing director. And in reality, it's just me and told me in the business, you know, we're both everything but yeah, so the last year or so has been been quite interesting for Tommy and myself. And in case you want to jump in now, with the story or joiner,
Go just go for it. You guys. Talk about what you guys have been doing. I think the biggest thing is, I mean, your story is amazing. Like you guys went on furlough from from your from another from another business and built your business and then launched and you know, you've, you've both had a lot going on, within work and outside of work as well, especially with lockdown. And you said something really interesting. You said you the MD, the founder and Tommy's the commercial director, but hey, it's just up to you wearing all different hats. And I think that can resonate with a lot of small businesses, right? A lot of us when we launch our businesses, we are the sales directors, we are the marketing directors, the PR, where we're everything but wearing all these different hats, and it can be quite can be quite challenging. But please tell us your story.
Okay. So stories, so I'll start I'll kind of brush over the first part. But I used to play pressure rugby for Saracens, my career ended early because of a neck injury. And then I kind of jumped over the wall and started working the commercial side of the organization, and kind of started the new business unit within within that side of the business, which is where I first met Tommy. So Tommy was working in the partnerships department within the commercial side. So we naturally always got on very well. We had a bit of crossover in terms of I've spent some time playing rugby in South Africa for the same team that Tommy played for so we kind of had some mutual people new to that, but I got unwell fully in full rugby noses, sports noses, and every conversation was based around sport. And then we always spoken when I was when I when we were working at the club about doing something together. So how could we incorporate the department I was working in with Tommy's department How can we offer new stuff to external partners and then eventually actually going Tommy kind of jumping into my area and working with me and in my in the business unit I was working for and it was all going well those plans are kind of slowly developing and then the club got hit with a scandal. So before we even go with came along the couple of hit with the salary cap scandal that hit my part of the business in particular for six overnight, every bit of business I had disappeared within that hours of kind of news breaking high. Which was which was really interesting, actually, from a learning point of view for me, because I'd only been two years, two and a half years out of professional sports. So every day I was still still am pretty green. That's why it's ridiculous that I'm running a business because I'm in the real world anyway.
Yeah, so So let alone for that. And then and then of course COVID came which has a whole new dimension and Tom and I both upon furlough. And what furlough gave us was a huge opportunity to actually well me personally and then by default, then talk to Tommy about it a huge opportunity to really reflect on where I was within my personal life, my professional life. Where I wanted to be what I want to be doing. And in reality, it just came down to the fact that it was right time to start thinking about some other things. I've been in the club for 16 years. So you know, over half my life has been (Wow). And it was as a player and working. And so yes, and then the idea of 100 & First came about the time when I was were put on furlough. So legally, we weren't allowed to do anything. (Yeah, yeah) So yeah, just putting plans together ideas, and, and just figuring out what is this business going to look like? So when we both I ended up getting made redundant, I was probably the only person in the country really, that was quite happy about that.
It's kind of tough, right? Being made redundant. And you're just like, actually, I've got something to fall back on.
Yeah, it was it was ended really well with the club for both of us. Amicably. And, you know, because the reality is the current situation where the best thing for them was to make that decision, and thankfully, at the time was probably the best thing for me as well. And so we are last days, we're, I think, 31st of August. And then basically, that was always we finished first September, we launched 100 & First. And so it's been a huge learning curve for both of us. As I say, we have to get kind of the the email signatures done, which is where the discussion are basically, Tommy, what do you want to be called? I said he can't be Managing Director because that's mine. But anything else?
I'm not prohibited anything. Just don't say Managing Director. (Yeah.)
Yeah. And you're going kind of then going to what you said earlier? And Tommy can specially this month, Tommy can can attest, is yeah, you just end up doing everything. And, you know, we're both on pretty much both on all all the calls together with with clients, potential clients, you know, in terms of mapping the products, you want to be doing, how we want to be selling all these things at the moment, you know, it's Tommy, although it's, although it's technically kind of my business, you know, thankfully, I found someone in Tommy that emotionally invested himself just as much as if it was his business as well, which has been a huge, a huge help for me, kind of stand out. So yeah, it's going well, it's good so far. Touch wood.
That's awesome. And tell me how you feeling about it all? So you're in the same business, you played for the same league in South Africa, which is a really cool story. You've both come from a rugby background. And then overnight, the business, you know, you got hit with a scandal, then COVID happens, you know, and then you go put on furlough. I mean, you've got you've got Will hear your good mate, going, Hey, I've got a crazy idea. I'm gonna set up a business, you know, come along, like, how did you feel about that?
Yeah, I think, yeah, I've been in the country for any few years from South Africa. So I've been here for about five and a half years. And, you know, when I when I, when I worked at the club, as Will said earlier, we will have the club and we still have the club and, you know, our journey just sort of change. And so we had the opportunity, but really, it was such an easy decision. Because, you know, Will and I believed massively what he was doing beforehand, and then sort of the, the vision he, he explained was completely bought into and, you know, truth be told the world is in so much change, right, COVID, you know, kind of was really under pressure in COVID happened in sport, because under such pressure, so from a risk point of view, you know, starting a new business is a risk but as as much as the risk in a in a full time employment, you know, in the in the career wasn't. So it was like, oh, there's risk on both sides. And then here's someone I really believe in, and I love his vision. You know, this is real, you know, a lot of personal things resonate with the business, which I'm sure we'll get to in a bit when we talk a bit more about what we do at 100 & First. So yeah, it really was a no brainer. And we've had a hell of a lot of fun setting it up. And as Will said, you know, during furlough, fellow times, it was really the light at the end of the tunnel, you know, breaking something because before that, you know, I think everyone thinks about creating business and we really interesting, my--- South African, because it has quite a few different businesses. I've always been around and would be quite interested if I never knew how to do it. Well, now we're sitting around sort of talking about that email fortune, what would be called like googling, like, what, like, what, what am I like, what is my exact job here?
So, you know, we've had a lot of fun, and it's been it's obviously been challenging launching in then, you know, maybe to sort of the more towards we what we do, we really try to focus on sort of what we call the job for the job. People, you get that mechanism, right. And, you know, they can then go on to do their jobs. We're not experts in what they do. But we want to be an expert in sort of getting them you know, ready to be the best sort of person at that business, the best teammate, whatever. So within that COVID is actually the perfect time for us to start with business, virtually, you know, to sort of managing key workers, whatever it is, you know, it's fundamentally all about people. And that was my real passion even before, you know, in human potential. So, so with Will be linking up with it. It made complete sense. So yeah, it's been a whirlwind. We've absolutely loved every second. We're really glad to be everywhere.
That's awesome. So will tell us a little bit about 100 & First, like, what do you got? What do you guys do? Like, what do you vision were like, how did it start? How has it progressed? And well, has there been any changes? Has it been any like, okay, that works really well. But that not not so much is it? Is it been some like interesting growth through through the last through the last month?
Yeah, I think we, in the last few months, we've probably made as many changes that we're making two years. But now I'd say the kind of the idea of in the business was around when I finished playing, the kind of unit I started out with a club was very much taken, it was like lessons from sport, how can we take the lessons from sport and put them into business into schools into whatever was and the club at the time had a very compelling story around how all this success was a byproduct of creating an environment where people generally cared about each other, their shared values, cohesion, their high levels of cohesion, and, and really, that the whole premise of that business unit was saying, well forget about the sport, the rug--, but don't think about the rug be here at all, what we're looking at is, how do we get better at our jobs by not focusing on the job? So how do you get someone to actually buy into what you want them to do? How do you get someone to give discretionary effort? That's what everyone's after. If you're if you have your own business, whatever it is, how do you get someone to the point where they want to give you discretionary effort? They want to do more for the business without any actual reward or any renumeration? Because when you get to that point, that's when they're emotionally invested in what you're doing. They're bought into it, they're doing for hire all these things that people talk about, very difficult to actually kind of implement. And that was, what we've done is out into the playing groups, it was how can we take that over. And now kind of when I was playing, what I learnt very quickly was I wasn't actually very good rugby player. I kinda made I made, I made a half decent career out of being a very average player. But what I what I did was I knew what I added to the team. So my kind of purpose when I was playing was okay, well, how do I add value to the team? What what are the few things that I do do well? And how can I use that to make the team better? And then with the, the commercial side is very much the same as going well, how can we help this group of people be better, by doing what I knew I could do well? (yeah.) So then 100 & First was a mix of the two going well, this is what I did when I was playing, this is what I really enjoy was interested in joining the business, how do I kind of morph the two together, and that was 100 & First, so the purpose 100 & First is to use the power of incredible real life experiences to drive change. So one of the big things I learned when I first jumped over the wall into into business was the power of a story, and how the reality is, as we you and I and Tommy has spoken about numerous times, whether you're a super successful individual team organization, or your team, individual organization that has dealt with adversity and come out the other side. The fundamental reasons as to why you've been successful, or how you've come resilient, are fundamentally very similar, if not the same. The only difference is the context in which your product falls. So it was kind of a we know some amazing people with some, you know, unbelievable stories, and they does incredible stuff, and much more so than what I was doing was Harrison's and having that, which is amazing. But in comparison to some people we've met, you know, it doesn't even how can we draw their learning. So let's say--- yes? Someone's climbing Mount Everest. That's insane. But that takes up amount of perseverance and commitment and blahblahblahblahblah, but if you take the mountain out the story. You take the person out the story and look purely at the mindsets they use, how they prepared, how they analyze situations, how they made decisions under pressure, you look at those bits, you go, well, there's nothing stopping us using those exact same things in a service team; for school teachers, whoever it is, we've just got to reapply it and repackage it to fit within your context. And for you to get ownership of it. So that's, that's kind of the the premise of the business and in terms of change, Tommy and I have had a few sit down and come up with our own our own mindsets and our own kind of ways of thinking. So the first one, and we're, I think thankfully, we're both kind of eternal optimists. So we're always (yeah) and you know, I'm a firm believer that in life and, no matter what situation you're in, there is always an opportunity, there is always a good thing, sometimes it's a lot harder to find than other times, but you just got to spend the time looking for it. And we kind of said, You're only a start our business once
You can't start business become established and then become a start up again. So we start at once, we'll never get this time back. And thankfully, with the situation we're in, and, you know, people we've got helping us out and backing us behind the scenes, we're in a position where we can try things. And we can give things a go. And if they don't work fine, but as long as we critically analyze it, and figure out why didn't they work? What can we do better next time? How can we change it? Or do we just bend this entire thing? And yeah, no. So from that point of, yeah, we've made loads of change. And Tommy's come up with a couple pearler ideas of the coffee hour that we've we saw the online courses that they're both both Tommy's gems, and we've got some other bits scared going on behind the scenes, but it's just it's quite an I hate using either how blue language I can use on this or not, but I hate my--
Link--LinkedIn is a bit random. So you say it and it'll be fine, I'm sure. Oh, no, you're fine with that term. That's fine. I mean, I just said sh*t. So you're fine. Like my business name has a swear word in it. So I feel like we're all good.
Oh, yeah, we're really agile. And we're really dynamic. And, you know, on the-- the premise of it is that we're just trying things out. (Yeah.) And as long as and, you know, I don't believe the biggest opportunities you have to learn in life and only a bit deeper. But the biggest opportunity I can learn when---is when things go wrong. (Yep.) Then if things always go well, you have a real ceiling as to how much you're actually learning and how much you're improving. After you the biggest learning opportunities you get is when things go drastically wrong.
Yeah, I learned that in my first business I--I was 20. And I had no business acumen I was still at university and I decided hey, I'm going to set up a business in my final year at university because I thought it was a really brilliant idea. And I was doing a double degree at the time, too. So I set up this business working out of a gym selling diet plans, and it boomed and I ended up getting my business and it was a franchise gym. So I was able to get my business into more of their gyms. So I think I ended up in like three or four gyms had a couple of employees underneath me before I even finished university. Someone saw how successful it wasn't like, hey, let's make this bigger. Let's make this a company. And I was like, Yeah, cool is like, I'll help you with all the paperwork. But because I had no idea what I was doing, I was so young, and dumb, the person ended up practically stealing the business underneath me. So it was it was pretty intense. And I remember the day he sat me down, he goes, alright, so you've got to go and work in a gym. And I was like, hang on, I've built this business. I've been working on the business. And he's like, no, no, no, you've got to go in, you got to make some money. If you don't make money, you didn't get paid. And I'm like, What? And so I was I think I was 21, 22 at the time. And at that point in time, I was just like, so burnt out, which we're going to talk about in a sec, but that is that from that mistake, I absolutely got burned, it was a bit soul destroying when you're that young and you just feel so stupid after it. Like I sincerely haven't told that story before. To many people just because I felt so stupid. But now it's like, you know, I learned from that in a really good way I now know what to do. And I grew from that point and ended up getting a little bit more business acumen got a bit more understanding. But it doesn't matter how much you you fail you you do something really stupid, like what I did, you can always eat there is a way to come through it, there is another way to look at it and you can bounce back. And it's the lessons you learn and not that you take in to your next adventure. And you know, when I say that, Get Your Sh*t Together. I remember I had, I think there was only one or two people that said to me your business name is appropriate, and everyone else was like, I don't think you should say call your business Get Your Sh*t Together--Literally and Figuratively. I think people will will back away but I'm so glad I didn't listen to those people and just went and went with it. So you're absolutely right. I think, you know, when you first set up a business, your first startup, you know, you're doing so much stuff you're learning you're growing and it is kind of fun, because you don't have you can play around with it. And I do think that that is a fun part to it. So, yeah, I think that's really cool.
And this is it. I mean, it's if you go in with that mindset to begin with. And when things go wrong, it's not as it's not as hard to take because you're going in with a mindset of almost not preparing for it to go wrong, of course but understand that if it does so you know, as you say you're-- Yeah, that's a much more extreme example of something going wrong. Yeah, that's it but you learn what you learn about yourself. Again, you learn diversity than in success. So I think as well the whole COVID thing for us, as Tommy said in his gambit. And it was as a huge opportunity for us yeah because what we found through kind of mindset lockdown one compared to the mindset lockdown two compare the mindset and lockdown well it kind of a long lockdown to or one two and three depends on
I feel like lockdown two gets forgotten because it was a month and everyone was like meh, that was okay, I feel like we you know we're locked in for three months, I have been allowed out. I'm kinda cool to like recuperate for this one month. And then you know, for for parents kids were kids was at school for that lockdown, too, so it wasn't too bad. But now lockdown, three, it's a very different lockdown. We're all feeling it a lot differently. And I know we can get into that as well.
And I think this is where the opportunity comes in terms of, as long as we're doing. And I think until we can do this more detail, but everything we do we kind of come back to two to three questions is are we generally helping people? Are we help them create change and our people learning? And kind of everything we do is based around those questions. And actually, if we're not ticking off one of those questions, then either way, what we're doing is wrong and needs to be improved. Or we're working with the wrong person. (Yep) And we've again, last last bit blue language. So Tommy and I can we only want to work with F*ck Yeah people.
I love that. That's cool.
Which Katie, you'd be pleased to hear, you're one of them. Yeah. It's the people that you talk to. And you immediately you're just like, Fuck, yeah, this is it. And they're just on a wavelength and another startup business, there's an argument that we should just work with anyone that's willing to work with it. Because it's, you know, you need the cash you need blah blah blah, but we're we're kind of going to mindset, we're actually again, we have the capacity to not have to do that. (Yeah) Might, we have to do that in a few months. Who knows, but at the moment, you don't. So it's actually very organically and generally working with the right people because actually in terms of creating, you know, a sustainable way of working the sustainable business with with proper relationships. That's kind of what we're all about. And Tommy can tell us a bit. Yeah, he we've even turned down kind of approaching certain people. Because we've been not, they're not. Yeah, no.
They're not Fuck Yeah people, what's the point? Like, we're not gonna do it? So I yeah, absolutely. But, um, but yeah, so Tommy, like, tell us, you seem to have some great ideas. Like, I've heard a few of them. And I think they're awesome. But tell us a little bit more about the business from your perspective, and what you guys have been up to and doing and, and then looking at, like a little bit about the stress of it. And everything that that has has been going on just not as business, but we've got COVID, we've got personal, we've all had personal things going on. I know, Will, you've had an incredibly crazy last month as well. So, um, but Tommy, tell us a little bit more about what you what you've been doing in the business. And you know, how you found it.
Yeah, maybe a bit more, sort of, on my background, when, when we worked in the partnerships team, at the club, obviously, I was a rights holder. And we work with loads of amazing partners, and, you know, in the partnership space there's loads of traditional partnership, writing, branding, social media, player access events, and something that, you know, maybe the last sort of 10, maybe 15 years, that has come to the forefront with with partnerships is is the the influence of the team culture and so that that high performance environment generated by the team, we we incorporated in our partnership strategy, so using, you know, Will and team psychologists or the coaches or the players to not just do an appearance with our partners, but actually to help create value. So, you know, coaching sessions, you know, what workshops, whatever it was, so those non traditional rights, were hugely interesting and valuable for the club. And that's why Will and I sort of work quite closely together. And, and that was really our challenge with this business is going okay, cool. So, you know, can we encapsulate those sort of non traditional rights around coaching and the brains around elite sport or whatever the pressure is, even if it's identical, and you'd actually repackage those individually, and then go to corporate or clients or schools or whatever industry you're looking at, you go, Okay, that's what, that's what they do. Those are their challenges. And this person, you know, that's his story. And he's the learnings. And so that was Will said, the beginning, we share other hats. So think of hats all the time, which is great, because you can bounce off each other.
I think I've come up with some ideas, but there's only because when I probably bashed for like an hour or two session talking about things, and when we finally get to, I think I might have just said the thing, but we we'd sort of we'd circulated it for a while. And our big challeng is presence, right? So we believe in our product. We know what we can do in the change. We can we can create and we and we know our speakers, such as yourself and know the other wonderful associates as I go, how do we create a presence for ourselves in the marketplace. And COVID gave us obviously as much of an opportunity as it did a challenge and we try to I guess everyone is virtual, it's quite an easy one, or we'll just do, we'll take our private workshops actually flip it and create an online course really simple. We have a platform that we can use that people can sign in to the community hub, we delivered virtually with the speaker and coaching sessions. So we've done a couple of those, which is super exciting, but one coming up with you this month, too, which is amazing. And, and the goal was to get a cross section of people who, like Will's questions, did they learn and do recreate change? Are we helping people? And if we take those three boxes, we believe that they would go to their companies or their networks. And one day when the conversation came up, they'll be like, Oh, I had a great time with 100 & First. And we did. And then word of mouth, we really wanted like a really genuine and one of our one of our coaches to work with, she speaks about authenticity and how over us it is we really wanted to create an authentic relationship where we created genuine change. So to be honest, it's you know, we've, we've learned loads, you know, from from being online and being a bit more B-to-C focused, we're probably more business-to-business before that. Yeah. back to business to business, because for us, that's, that's probably our market. But we thoroughly enjoyed working with B-to-C, I think, Will, you be with this company, we learned a huge amount from those sessions, all the sessions, were there only four days of 90 minutes a session. And it was actually all about breaking out with like small groups of people and really learning from each other. So creating that like thing. And we wasted backup, every course we did, you know, we actually there course, all about redundancy to support people and pro bono. And we learned more than we've ever learned on that course, could just be was individual stories, and then people sort of coach each other and you just create this amazing environment. So I think actually, our sort of our learnings and our testing ground has has really helped formulate our business. And yes, we've been agile, but as a result of learning from the people we work with, and those you know who we signed up to. So, yeah, in terms of ideas, I think the original point with the way we combine ideas, working together, not just with Will and I, but actually talking to people who've given us feedback, like Hey, man, I really change of course with this, that didn't really work like this. Amazing. That's a good idea.
And I think just to add to that, Katie and I can do better than this as well, from our previous conversations. I think this is amazing. And it's not business, you've got to do a lot of what you kind of tell all the people do in a way. So yeah, the whole runnability side. I think the reason when I work well together is because we're both very honest and vulnerable to each other. There's loads of stuff told me the reason we weren't well was because Tommy does a lot of stuff that I'm terrible at. And I do maybe one or two things. Well, that Tommy's all right at. Is that a bit and then with people we work with, you know, we are a startup business, and we made a complaint about it, not trying to hide that, you know, we've openly said we are not an established business, we want to make sure that everything we're doing is hitting the nail, and that you know, so please tell us, if you-- done something, you sat down and gone, this is awful. Tell us because we don't know. Thank you. And I think that level of honesty and just being a bit vulnerable with people is actually what's helped us kind of gain the feedback that we have.
Yeah, being open to feedback, I actually have spoken to, like a company that do customer service experience. It's, I think, called--they're called ThinkWow, it's, I'm just gonna do a bit of a shout out Daniel Brown and Rebecca Brown. They're really cool. They're really cool company they've just launched in the last two years as well. And they were saying that complaints and feedback is like gold dust, it's actually telling you what's working and what's not working, and what you can build from that. And I actually loved that, that Rebecca put that out. And I absolutely agree. I think having that feedback, having those complaints, it's actually not complaints. But feedback that might not be always just positive. Negative feedback is also really important. Anytime in a business or when even when you start out, you could be a startup, you could be midway through your journey, you could be a really well established brand. But that feedback is so important because at least it's going to help you grow. And you can actually develop, develop your business into a into a more robust kind of business. And I think that's actually a really important, important part. And I know that when you set up a business, you know, you obviously want all the praise and accolades, you're like, Oh, I just want everyone to tell me how good I'm doing. But it is really important to get that feedback as well as that praise obviously. But understanding what what you're doing right and what you could be doing a bit better. And I think that that's something that's really important from from most experiences in life, right like it's not just setting up a business it's it's understanding that now I know that you guys set up a business you know, in between lockdown one on lockdown to you launched, you flipped all you businesses to online, but that doesn't go without stress, setting up a business in general and in any type of business in any type of journal, even on a good day. It's very, very stressful. There's a lot of unknowns going around it and a lot of stress can come about it. And then you've obviously got COVID that's been into play I know Will that you've had some quite. You've had some quite, stressful situations going on right now as well, so how have you guys been managing your stress? And how have you how have you dealt with that?
Tommy, do you want me to go first?
You've you've--you've Will's had a lot on.
Well, I think, yeah, so setting up the business, I'll be honest, it was more stressful than actually running the business. (Yeah.) So
We agree with that!
I have no idea how much admin or sh-admin, as I call it, that needs to go into setting up a business. It is unbelievable. And then all the, the finances and the little tax bits in here that I have no idea of. So getting all of that in order was was very stressful. And then that was at the time was, I say, it's proper first world problems. But we were having worked on our house where we were living at home with a bit scary. So. But running the business has been stressful, but in a really nice kind of stress. Because--
I actually talk a lot about this, there's good stress and there's bad stress. So it's the way that your brain perceives it. Your body still gets the hit, but your brain will percei