Ask the questions that others won’t. Keep looking and don’t give up until you discover that unique answer and content that will give you the edge.
Billy Ferguson is the founder & CEO of Trivelo. A triathlon and multi-sport specialist agency providing product testing and digital marketing services to a range of triathlon companies. Clients of Trivelo include HUUB, Zone3, Proviz, Finis and Orca. As well as devoting his time to making Trivelo a success, Billy works as an IT executive in a leading UK bank helping them transform their technology solutions. Find out more about Billy and Trivelo by visiting https://blog.trivelo.co.uk.
Where did the idea for Trivelo come from?
The idea for the Trivelo and our REAL Athletes and TRUSTED Reviews platform came from a service used in IT Development where firms use virtual testing panels. They commission testing from a panel to get usability testing on mobile apps and websites. I wondered if I could bring the same concept through to a triathlon service. From this the idea was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I have a demanding day job as well as running Trivelo. My working week sees me travelling around the country working within the bank I work for. I also juggle demands of a young family with three young children whose childhood I do not want to miss due to work. In addition to these many time hungry activities I also try to train for triathlons myself and fit in swimming, cycling and running every week. I plan ahead as much as I can and have a clear outline of the week ahead. My travel time is valuable so I use the trains everywhere I go so they can be an extension of my office. This means I can take calls on Trivelo or finalise details for assignments while on the move. It requires prioritisation so I always have a “to do” list per key role that I maintain on my phone. Each day working through this and using this to keep my time on the key activities. Modern technology such as my phone and Google workplace tools mean I can work from anywhere and make the most of every spare bit of time. Even a ride on the underground is a window of time not to be wasted.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Ideas have never been a problem. Keeping in check whatever my next idea is more the issue. I like to bring across inspiration from other areas of my life and use them in my business. I am lucky to get to meet new people and companies on a daily basis so there is always new inspiration for ideas. In addition I tend to keep expanding my knowledge through everything I can get my hands on. I read and have multiple books on the go at any point in time. I listen to podcasts daily and have alerts set up across various social media channels.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The benefits that exercise can have on people recovering from serious illness such cancer. At Trivelo we connected with the charity Cyclists Fighting Cancer at the very beginning and endeavour to support them. But they are not alone and there are so many amazing stories of people who have used exercise to help them cope through treatment but also bounce back at an amazing and unprecedented rate. There is still so much we don’t really understand about the human body and the future of recovery aided by exercise is something that really excites and inspires me to make Trivelo a success. I want to be part of supporting these great causes as we grow and are able to donate directly to them and see the wonderful effects it can have. If seeing a child recover from cancer helped by riding a bike they have been donated doesn’t excite you then I’m not sure what does!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Positivity. I maintain a positive outlook in all things. Every challenge presents an opportunity and rather than letting setbacks present themselves as a blocker I look for the positive. Before getting anyone to say yes to anything you will face a barrage of No’s. It is essential to stay positive through this and not let the rejection affect you. The other side of this is that when you get a Yes the endorphin release from this in your brain will more than make up for the earlier rejections. Even the smallest win as an entrepreneur gives you a massive buzz that cannot help but put a smile on your face. Stay positive. Don’t give up. Don’t let things get you down.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the here and now. This is relevant for personal and professional life and something I wish I had realised more as a younger man. Moments in life are rarely repeated so enjoying them as they happen is essential. It is as relevant to me now as it was in my 20’s. Life moves quickly and things continue to change. While it is easy to be consumed by how tough or bad a situation may be it is often fleeting so cherish the wins and the highs which follow. Take time to acknowledge them and remember every one of them from something as simple as a perfect pint with friends in the sun to the first steps of your children. Whatever those moments are, love them.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Trivelo will work and will be successful. Not something everyone has belief in like myself. Friends, family, colleagues can often be dismissive of things. Some people use the challenge to drive them and motivate them to prove people wrong. I don’t feel this way about the reaction. My drive and ambition for it mean I simply can’t relate to it. We will succeed and we will make Trivelo into something special. It is the only way I can think about things and view things.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Revisit your purpose over and over. Why are you doing this. Why does your firm exist? The question of purpose needs to be crystal clear before you commit to any business plan or venture. Agree with any partners involved on what is the purpose for the venture. Use this business purpose continually in business decisions and challenge any decision that deviates from this. Having a clear purpose is more important than a clear definition of the product. Be honest on why you are doing this and if the answer is no more spiritual than make money then revisit it. Motivation and clarity of direction are essential throughout any business.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Research. Research. Research. We have spent thousands of hours researching everything we do. It is a strategy that we deploy with everything. Who are our competitors and what are they doing? Who are our potential financial targets and how are they spending money at the moment? What are triathletes looking for? What new cool stuff can we be the first to review? By seeking answers on the right questions all the time we can reach more people and create a larger impact continuously. This is something that is the life blood of the company, as soon as we stop researching and asking the questions I don’t believe we will continue to grow. Indeed survive.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Originally when we embarked on our journey we wanted to build a platform for cyclists to buy and sell bikes safely and securely. I was sick of people being ripped off by sites like eBay where a bike might not exist or not be fairly described. After building the platform we just couldn’t get enough people to use it and made the gut wrenching decision to close it 2 years ago. But from the ashes our current proposition was born. Our network and followers gave us an opportunity to do something different. Building a trusted source of information on triathlon. That is what we deliver today and what we are building
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Create a digital audio book. There are thousands of gaps in the audio book market as more and more people seek to consume literature through the spoken word. If you have a passion for something turn it into a book but ignore the physical book market and leap straight to digital. Within this sphere ignore even the busy text based market and focus purely on the audio market. I listen to more than half the books I read while I am running or travelling. I like to maximise every minute and consuming content while running is a great way to kill 2 birds with one stone. There is money to be made in audio books and there is little financial input needed to create one. All it needs is your time.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Train fare to travel six hours from a meeting to be able to get back to see my daughter perform in the school production one evening this week. It was a massively long day and draining travelling experience but easily forgotten when seeing her appear on stage after a marathon journey. Worth every penny and all of the effort to make it work.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Google for work suite of apps. Having a cloud based office suite that we can share and access from a range of devices is perfect for a small business. It is free to use and as powerful as any Microsoft equivalent. With the files all cloud based it means we can collaborate on content and track progress in shared files. Again perfect when the team is not co-located as we don’t all work out of one office. Further benefit for a cash strapped start up is we can buy and use chrome books rather than expensive laptops. All of the above remove usual barriers to a small business of complexity of IT and costs for getting off the ground. Thank you Google!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. A memoir from the creator of Nike. Shoe Dog traces the origins of Nike from its founder Phil Knight who set it up as a side hustle while holding down a full time 9-5. It is hugely inspirational to hear how Nike struggled and evolved into the business that it has since become. Cash flow problems dogged the company for over a decade and they faced the stark reality of going under on a number of occasions. There is a vast amount of this story that any entrepreneur can relate to. This is especially true for anyone who is working to build up a small business while paying the bills with a day job while they battle to turn a profit. The book is a very honest account of how Phil Knight built Nike through the early years hunting down Adidas and the numerous hurdles that threatened their existence on a day to day basis. Brilliant book and a must read for anyone thinking of starting their own business showcasing what it means to have a vision and the persistence needed to realise this.
What is your favorite quote?
I am a Scotsman. Born in Glasgow although my accent would suggest otherwise having lived in England most of my life. Coming from Scottish parents and a strong Scottish name we are a clan. The Ferguson clan has its own tartan and I own a number of my own kilts as a result. We have our own clan motto that I use as a motto for me daily and a life lesson to help me through life. Our motto is “Dulcius Ex Asperis” that translates as “Sweeter after difficulties” and a quote that means a lot to me. My belief is this means life is hard. You face difficulties. But you can and will overcome them. By overcoming the rocks and stones of life you become stronger and the person that comes out the other side is happier and inherently “sweeter”.
- Before you start on any venture make sure you have a clear purpose and reason. You will need this throughout any business venture as you grow, pivot and succeed.
- Ask the questions that others won’t. Keep looking and don’t give up until you discover that unique answer and content that will give you the edge.
- Use your time carefully. Make the most of every minute as you won’t get them back. Consider how to use the time ahead and prepare carefully.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.