“If at first you don’t succeed, try and try (and try) again” should be your business mantra. We caught up with Paul Wedgewood to find out why.
For Paul Wedgewood, CEO and founder of Splash Damage, words such as “no” and “can’t” don’t seem to exist. Having had the experience of visiting the headquarters of Splash Damage and being shown into a ‘common room’ area straight out of a gamer’s dream, it’s hard to now imagine Paul as a teen rebel, expelled from school at the age of 15. However, after a few exchanges with the man himself it’s clear he’s not much of a departure from his teenage self, although his responsibility to the business and to his employees seem to have taught him a thing or two along the way.
Splash Damage continue to be on the up. Currently settling into their new high-rise home in south-east London, SD is home to 120 bodies from 25 different nationalities (and one very lifelike Batman statue). The office is still a work in progress, and yet all of the staff seem comfortable in their new space (which comes fully equipped with necessities such as a football table and gaming areas).
It’s wasn’t always been fun and games (couldn’t resist the pun) for Paul when starting out in business. Getting things going can be a real struggle, and factors such as finding funding, conducting market research and making a business plan just didn’t seem to appeal to Paul. “I was declared bankrupt three times,” Paul says of the process, “it was a record for my accountant, who hadn’t had anyone return three times to declare bankruptcy.” Not one to be deterred by his previous setbacks, Paul learnt from each flop, and built Splash Damage from the valuable insight one can only glean from being told “no” and “can’t” a few too many times.
So, what are the two big lessons in business that we can we take from Paul?
Look after the small things
Although he admits to his lack of financial expertise being a big factor in his earlier failures, Paul is sure to take care of the numbers nowadays, although he still wouldn’t peg himself as an expert. “The important thing is that the staff can pay their rent”, he says of the company’s finances. “When checking bank statements, I’ve learnt that black writing is good, and red is bad”.
Don’t ever give up on doing what you love
If there’s a lesson to be learnt from Paul’s experience, it’s in perseverance. There are few people out there who believe so much in making their dream a reality that they suffer blow after blow. Take some faith from Paul’s tale and build on it. Get to know your target market intimately, “You can never do too much research!” as Paul would say. Take time to figure out where your funding will be coming from, and what predictions you can make on the near future. Most importantly: turning your hobby into your job is difficult, but totally worth it in the end.
A little training never went amiss…
Clueing yourself up on the ins and outs of business plays an important part in speeding up the highway to success. Even if, like Paul, you don’t come from a background of business training, it can help to learn the ropes on your own. Ensuring a return on your investment, or indeed any investment into your company, can be made much easier if you get a grasp on your finances: seek advice from your local bank and make sure you do your research. Keeping up to date on marketing techniques and ways in which your business growth can be accelerated should always be towards the top of your business to-do-list. Make sure you’re following a business blog and taking its advice.
Get yourself a www.
Paul and co. were lucky enough to be getting started back when the internet was a new and largely uninhabited domain (excuse the pun). They’ve used the powers of an online presence to grow their business across the globe; their website shows that 2,265,256 players are now a part of Splash Damage. Get yourself online quickly and easily by grabbing a domain name, building a website and getting a powerful hosting solution to back you up.
Paul cites “Being in the right place at the right time” as a key factor in his success, and that place just happened to be the early internet. A good website is a great start for any business; you can get started with yours here.