Simon Wharton

Understand that your job is to employ people who are better than you and then guide them in getting on with it.


Simon has spent more than two decades operating within the digital sector, initially in a corporate environment, before becoming embroiled in the early days of the Manchester digital community. Alongside his business partner, Roy Wilding, he pivoted PushON out of an incarnation of a previous successful digital business. Steady planned growth has seen the business gain recognition as one of the North West’s leading eCommerce agencies. The business’ expertise in eCommerce development and its particular skill with online marketing has led to a raft of peer reviewed award wins throughout the North West, UK and Europe.

Simon also has a reputation for “sticking his oar in” to drive the digital sector forward. He is a council member for Manchester Digital, lectures at local universities and was a founder of SASCon, the infamously expert digital marketing conference. He speaks at events, organises events and largely keeps himself busy both in the sector and in the community. He has four children available to keep him stressed and is the gofer for a local under 10s football team. When he finds the time to go out, you’ll most likely find him seeing a loud band somewhere.

Where did the idea for PushON come from?

We had a previous business that was fairly successful but had a limited lifespan. As part of running that business, we’d learned how to do online marketing quite well. So we pivoted to use those skills as PushON.

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

I do a lot of what you might consider “front of house”. I’m the guy who might be at a morning event or an evening event, making sure we have profile and sharing knowledge. A typical day for me is atypical.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Creativity involves a lot of process and sweat. We try to use a broad range of the team when we are working up ideas. No idea is a bad idea. But we work through to what excites us and is deliverable within any account constraints. We will then test the waters externally and see if it flies before we go into full production. If it fails, we go to one of the back up ideas and test again.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Headless eCommerce and voice search has got to have some of your attention this year and you need to plan ahead. But as with anything new, don’t believe the prophets of doom. If you haven’t achieved a full strategic implementation by tomorrow, your business isn’t going to fail.

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

Understanding that your job is to employ people who are better than you and then guide them in getting on with it.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Trust your instincts but work a lot harder.

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

Nottingham Forest will win the Champions League in my lifetime.

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

Talk to people in industry, diverse industries, and listen really carefully. Not everything they say is relevant but there is almost always gold to be had. If someone claims very loudly that they are an expert, a guru, a ninja, they’re probably not.

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

Find that niche that excites you and then be the best in that niche.

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

You will make bad hires on occasion. Our instinct is to try and make it work but that rarely works well for both parties. Acknowledge the failure and part company as best as you can.

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

I’d like to see an open source “gig economy” tool. An Uber that isn’t owned by Uber, focused on local communities. So, for example if you want to use the local butcher rather that the supermarket, a local can get on their bike and deliver it for a reasonable fee with the majority of that fee staying within the community. This may already exists, I haven’t checked.

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

I got myself a black St Pauli hoodie. It made me happy.

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

Evernote. I’m forgetful so just capturing ideas is really helpful,

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

“Neuromancer”: William Gibson. Maybe Slaughterhouse 5: Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t know, give me 30 seconds and I’ll have another favourite. Something visionary.

What is your favourite quote?

I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one“: Brian Clough.

Key learnings:

• Trust your instincts but work a lot harder
• Write down all your ideas. One of them will be genius
• Find people who are better than you and listen to them
• Let people be brilliant but make sure it’s your sort of brilliant
• Sweat it harder


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