Jon Woodall – Founder and Managing Director of Space 48

Learn to listen, stay curious and always sleep on big decisions.”

Self-taught, passionate about business and ecommerce Jon has learned by making many of his own mistakes. How else do we learn? Jon calls it mistake driven success.

As the founder and managing director of Space 48 one of the UK’s leading ecommerce consultancies and with a career in ecommerce that that goes back over ten years, he’s been at the forefront of ecommerce technology solutions and delivery.

Jon has been recognised for his achievements in the industry including, The Northwest Insider magazine who him in the “42 under 42”, he was also a finalist in the IOD director of the year award, and he’s made an appearance on the TEDx stage as a speaker.

Jon works with some of the fastest growing ecommerce businesses in the UK such as Better Bathrooms, Oak Furniture Land and Charlotte Tilbury.

He’s also the founder of the world’s largest Magento developer conference that he’s rolled out to five cities including Mexico City, Milan, Valencia, Austin and Manchester.

Connecting and contributing to others is in his DNA and he would like the UK to be seen as a global leader in ecommerce with Space 48 leading the charge.

Where did the idea for Space 48 come from?

Like most entrepreneurs, I was destined to walk my own path. My passion for technology, marketing and business made ecommerce an easy choice. Mix in some good timing and a little luck I’d say the idea found me.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Each day can look different, but the best advice I’ve been given that has helped build rhythm and momentum is to set a weekly schedule. Make sure you make time for family, work and yourself. Knowing what’s to come means you’re running your schedule rather that your schedule running you. Being an entrepreneur can take its toll on your health.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I surround myself with amazing people. If we are the average of the five people, we spend the most time with making sure that those people count.

What’s one trend that excites you?

AI, It’s already part of most things that we do, it’s prominence in ecommerce has been there for a while. I’m excited to see how this trend evolves across the business world but in particular how man and machine become closer, Augmented Intelligence. Machines making our lives easier has a long list of pros and cons!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Prioritising the one thing that makes the difference and adapting to make it happen.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Learn to listen, stay curious and always sleep on big decisions!

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

It’s a long list! I think one of the things that most entrepreneurs have in common is that we challenge the status quo. I don’t mean that we question everything for the sake of it, but when so many believe something to be true, it’s a rare few that use their ability, to think differently or unique perspective to solving meaningful problems.

Nearly all conferences in my industry were focused on the sales of software, no one was challenging the status quo until I created a learning and development conference called Mage Titans. This year we’ve had events in 5 cities around the world, now many more are following suit!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Work hard! Many are waiting for the perfect time or chasing a dream in the future. Do what’s right in front of you, work hard, and do it to the best of your ability. It’s amazing what happens when you gain momentum.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Finding ways to help others and contribute to others was at odds with my competitive personality for many years. Let’s just say the law of attraction was fair to Space 48 and me when I learned how to help others.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Firstly, I’d expect this to be almost a daily experience for any entrepreneur. It’s not a game of perfect!

The one failure I seem to make over again is working too hard. It’s a delicate balancing act, and I honestly don’t think there’s any getting away from hard work versus downtime. You have to love what you do, enjoy it being difficult and there are no substitutes for hard work. But you can’t be in top gear permanently, and you need to know when to take your foot off the gas, you need time to recover. Steven Kotler has some fascinating content about flow states, and I’d highly recommend any entrepreneur, business person or sports person take a look.

So what do I do to overcome this? One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve been given is to set a schedule. This helps me better manage my time and commit to a schedule that includes family time, personal time (usually the gym) and obviously work commitments. I find having a weekly routine has helped me build momentum and rhythm, which is critical to success, in my opinion.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

We’ve just moved to our new offices in Manchester. Finding parking isn’t easy, someone should build a website that aggregates parking or even allows for a pass that covers a set amount of visits per year. There are variations of this, but no one has got this cracked, in my opinion. A marketplace could work; it would help People Park at more cost-effective prices while also allowing the car parks to maximise their return. I’ve managed to find a brand new car park within a five-minute walk of Space 48 HQ where only two of five floors are being used. It’s a bargain, don’t tell anyone!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I spent this afternoon with my wife and children by the beach. I barely spent £30, and although it was cold, the weather was kind. Most of my time day to day flies by, moments like today help me take stock refocus and appreciate how lucky I am.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

You’re probably looking for a super smart answer or an app that’s going to shave hours off your working week! Sorry, it’s notes! I journal my thoughts, ideas, general ramblings and meeting prep as it comes to mind! I believe it helps me be more efficient as it helps keep my mind free.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Black Box Thinking – Matthew Syed.

Insightful reading into elite performance, creating the right environment and raising self-awareness.

What is your favourite quote?

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

Key learnings:

• Be passionate, work hard and expect a little luck. Being an entrepreneur requires all of the above and some. Surround yourself with a support network that makes this possible.
• A schedule of your time is key to building momentum and making sure you’re in the best frame of mind to grow personally and in business. Set time aside for your family, friends and colleagues. Make sure your meetings have a set pattern each week. Run your diary, don’t let your diary run you.
• Business ideas are all around us. Always listen, stay curious and always sleep on big decisions!
• Journal your thoughts. No need for fancy apps that claim to hack your time. Use notes on your phone or keep a trusty pen and pad to hand. Keep your mind free to be creative.

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