Nigel Borwell and Paul Walsh established one of the first lead generation companies in the financial advice sector over a decade ago. Lead Tech has since expanded to over 50 sales and digital marketing experts, supporting firms across the UK.
In our latest chat, the pair shared their best advice and tips for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.
Q – What led you both to found Lead Tech?
PW – It’s a long story that starts back when Nigel and I co-founded a web software company. We developed software systems for businesses. After working for clients for nearly a decade, we realised it was time to do something for ourselves, so we took the opportunity to enter a different business model into the market.
NB – We wanted to be masters of our own destinies. We got to the point where we were tired of working for other people and didn’t feel like we were achieving what we wanted by working for others. It was a case of finding the right opportunity.
Because of my advertising background, I developed an interest in creating a business to attract customers. The emergence of the internet and tech made me naturally think about how the internet could be used to help people and this was something we were passionate about.
PW – At that time, we had a share of a business in Manchester that offered lead generation for home improvement companies. We saw what was possible with a business model like theirs and started thinking about how we could apply it. That’s when we became interested in financial services.
The industry was very traditional in their attitude to gaining and attracting customers in 2008. Lead Tech was founded because we wanted to present lead generation as a modern solution to help financial advisers grow and find new customers. What we were doing was really new back then. We were one of the first lead gen companies in financial services.
Q – Do you have any advice for anyone that would like to start their own company?
NB – Planning is key. Set yourself goals and targets and do everything in your power to achieve them. If you believe in what you’re doing, then anything is possible.
PW – As Nigel mentioned, it’s essential to have a good plan, but plans never really go to plan. You’ll make bad decisions and things will be out of your control. That’s why you need to focus on your goals and be tenacious.
Q – What’s the best advice you’ve been given when you started out?
PW – The best advice I’ve received was ‘Don’t look for perfect’. A long time ago, a manager told me, ‘We’ve employed someone and I’m disappointed they aren’t doing a task a particular way’. You have to remember to be flexible. It’s about being open to testing different methods to make things work for everyone.
NB – Someone once told me that I can do anything I want to if I put my mind to it. It goes back to what Paul said about tenacity. It’s a simple, yet powerful message that can help guide you on your journey.
Q – Why are people important to the success of a business?
PW – If a business consultant came into the Lead Tech office, they might question why we have an internal recruiter. We’re so committed to building a positive culture that we realised we needed to do things differently.
We’ve now established our own people team. This is something many companies don’t invest in because they don’t understand the value of people. We know that approach will never work for the culture of Lead Tech. If you invest in your people, they’ll help you grow the business.
NB – Success is measured all too often by hitting financial targets. That’s a huge part of running a business, but I also believe it’s about the satisfaction you can bring to your employees and customers. If you can build a company that benefits people’s lives, you’ll have a solid foundation for a promising business.
Q – How do you measure success?
PW – There’s the obvious financial aspect. In the last financial year, we’ve increased our turnover from £4.2m to £6.2m, and we’re targeting £10m in the new financial year.
But the main measure for me is how we’re engaging people in the business and developing their skills. We want people to enjoy coming to work, enjoy what they do and feel like they have the support to grow.
NB – Paul and I spend a lot of time refining the company values and finding the right people that share them. Knowing I’ve built a company people are happy to work for and that can invest in them gives me great satisfaction.
In terms of personal goals, it’s about being healthy and happy. Most of all, I want to be an authentic role model for my children and show my family that they can achieve great things if they work hard enough.
Q – Where do you find inspiration to drive the company forward?
NB – I find inspiration in the office every day. Lead Tech’s vision changes through our experiences, as we learn and find new ways to add value to our customers and ourselves. I love what we’ve created and by developing a clear company vision, I can energise and motivate our team to maintain our momentum.
PW – I like to keep an eye on disruptive brands when I need inspiration. At the moment, I’ve been really impressed by Beyond Meat, who are changing the way we eat and increasing awareness of sustainability. I also admire Airbnb’s people-centred platform. Babylon Health is another one to watch. They’re doing some fascinating work with artificial intelligence (AI) in order to make healthcare more accessible.
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Lead Tech has over ten years’ experience specialising in generating high-quality leads for four key markets, helping national firms attract more clients and grow their business.
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