Go in-depth whenever possible with unique or original data.
Ian Wright is the founder of British Business Energy a business energy comparison service based in the UK. He’s an older millennial and first started building websites when he was in his mid-teens in the late 90s during the first dot-com boom, and has been hooked ever since.
Over the past 20 years he has worked for a variety of companies in a variety of digital marketing roles from small scrappy start-ups to established Fortune 500 companies before venturing out on his own. He decided to start British Business Energy as he saw a gap in the market for good quality information about business energy prices.
He grew up in Ottawa, Canada but has lived in London for the past 9 years with his wife and 2 children. He thinks London is the best place in Europe to start a business due to the talent available, easy of doing business and number of opportunities available.
In 2015 he became the first person to walk the newly expanded London Underground Map. In addition to walking, he also loves maps and runs the Brilliant Maps website in his spare time and has book coming out in 2019.
He’s very positive about the business climate in the UK, although he does think Brexit will hurt things in the short to medium term. Nevertheless, he still thinks it’s a great time to start a business and encourages people to consider entrepreneurship.
Where did the idea for British Business Energy come from?
The ides for British Business Energy came from seeing that there was a gap in the market for truly independent information about business energy prices, suppliers and brokers in the UK. Until we arrived on the scene there was no source for all suppliers or brokers operating in the market. We now have the most complete list of both in the UK.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day begins by being woken up by my daughter, making her breakfast, having a shower then taking her to nursery. I then take a 10-15 minute train ride to work followed by a 10 minute walk where I listen to a podcast (or part of a podcast).
When I get to the office I immediately start work on the one piece of important work I need to do that day (set from the day before). Once that’s done (usually 1-3 hours), I go over e-mails and respond to the most important ones. At lunch time I’ll usually go for a 30 minute – 1 hours long run.
After I come back from my run I’ll eat something quickly at my desk as I go over my e-mails and potentially take any calls. I then spend the afternoon tackling the second piece of important work I want to accomplish that day (again 1-3 hours). Finally it’s time to wrap things up, but before I do I set tasks for the next day (15-30 minutes).
Then 10 minute walk to the train and another 10-15 minutes on the train where I listen to another podcast (or the rest of the one I started). Then pick up daughter from nursery and go home for a nice family dinner together.
The key to staying productive with young children is to ruthlessly prioritise your time. I make sure to focus only on the most important tasks in my business each day, which helps keep momentum going.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Bringing ideas to life requires constant dedicated work on whatever it is you want to accomplish. Taking action is by far the most important thing, which is actually much harder than it seems. But if you keep doing this day after day you’ll accomplish amazing things.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The biggest trend that excites me right now are the number of companies disrupting traditional boring industries here in the UK. Banking, Loans and Energy are just 3 of the industries I’m involved with that are undergoing radical transformation right now with massive benefits to businesses and consumers alike.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The number one habit that makes me more productive is trying to get enough sleep each night. I try to be in bed by 10pm each night, as I’m usually woken up at 6am. Getting roughly 8 hours of sleep in a game changer as I really notice big productivity declines when I get less than that.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Just do the work and don’t look for shortcuts. I was so lazy when I was younger and would waste huge amount of time trying to avoid doing things properly. Doing high-quality work is not much more difficult than half-arsed work, but yields exponentially more benefits.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think luck is way more important than most entrepreneurs are willing to recognise. So much of my success has depended on luck and being in lucky situations. Now this is not pure luck as I still had to decide to take action, but the degree of your success is often beyond your control.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Honestly, make sure you focus most of your time on your most important tasks. It is so easy as business owner to be busy and do things that feel like work, but aren’t. If you focus on the big tasks each the business starts to take care of itself.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
A relentless focus on providing the best data out there. Basically we spend a huge amount of time researching the industry to an extent our competitors won’t. This has been the differentiator for us and has allowed us to succeed.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Prior to starting British Business Energy, I previously started another online publishing company that was killed by a Google update. After that I had to go back work for several years, which ended up being the best thing. I learned a huge amount from the companies I worked for and have been able to apply those lessons in my current business. Working for successful companies is one of the best ways to learn how to run a successful company.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The biggest business idea I can give to people reading this to think about how to make B2B transactions as easy as consumer ones.
For example, being able to buy energy online, opening a bank account online, getting a loan online etc. These are all really easy services to do as consumer but almost impossible to do online if you’re a business.
So if you run a B2B company/service and there’s a consumer equivalent figure out how you can make the process as similar as possible.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 (well £100) I spent recently as just paying for a lunch with my wife, kids and my parents. Nothing too fancy, just lunch at a local restaurant. The reason why it was the best money I spent recently is that it gave me time to spend with my family away from any business distractions. And really that’s the whole point of my business, to allow me afford to spend time with family on my terms and not a boss’s.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Without a doubt AHREFs. It allows us to quickly and easily check the health of our website and keep tabs on our competitors. We also use to help inform what to write about and see what’s popular. I honestly don’t know what we’d do without it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I think Lost and Founder by Rand Fishkin is a great read about the perils of starting a business, especially one taking or thinking of taking on VC money. While we always hear about the successes, he talks about the difficulties in a way few others do. It’s a nice breath of fresh air in an industry that tends to focus on only businesses that have succeeded due in part to survivorship bias.
What is your favorite quote?
“We are all a great deal luckier that we realize, we usually get what we want – or near enough.” – Roald Dahl
- Focus on the big things in your business.
- Make sure you produce high-quality work
- Go in-depth whenever possible with unique or original data
- Always be thankful for your success and recognise the role luck has played in it
- Family time is important and should always be a priority