Meet Dominic Edmunds, CEO and Founder of global technology company, SaleCycle. Dominic has grown the company across Washington DC, Paris, Singapore and the UK, working with major clients including Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Virgin Atlantic amongst more. Influenced by his hard working parents, inspired by his Grandfather and living for his wife and kids, Dominic reveals the mind set and life hacks required to turn from employee to entrepreneur.
Getting to know Dominic
How did you get from Junior Designer to CEO?
I graduated from the University of Teesside in 1999 with a first class honours in Graphic Design. Although the internet bubble was growing, digital job opportunities in the North East were scarce. I noticed that a digital services company, Leighton, were recruiting so I phoned them and they advised me to send in my CV. I knew my CV wouldn’t include what they were looking for so I ventured to their office, A1 portfolio in arm, and requested to see the Creative Director. They asked if I had an appointment, I told them I didn’t, they assured me he was a very busy man and I assured them them I was not busy at all and I would wait. After waiting and waiting, his PA finally told me I could see him at 9am the next day. Needless to say, I landed myself a job as a Designer and by continuing with my tenacious ways over the following 9 years, worked my way up before leaving to set up SaleCycle. I truly believe that if you want something, you are the only person stopping yourself from getting it.
What values were instilled in you growing up?
I grew up ‘out in the sticks’, meaning there wasn’t a plethora of entertainment for youth, but it forced me to be creative and hone in on my passions. Both of my parents were very hard working and my Grandfather was particularly inspirational; he ran an advertising agency in Thailand. He was self-driven, incredibly independent and accomplished what he wanted from life, which was to see the world. This undoubtedly influenced the fact I am now also getting to travel and see the world with work.
Why did you move from the UK to the US?
It was a business decision that’s been on the radar for the past 3 years. Taking international expansion seriously requires a large degree of self-sacrifice which is why I’m now living in, what could be, our largest, single territory for growth: Washington DC. It was a challenging moving out here as I have two small children but I can already see it starting to pay off. The worst thing would be to stay in the UK and avoid the move, then look back and wonder ‘what if’. Instead, I know I’ve been as active as humanly possible in the company’s growth so I don’t regret moving one bit.
How did you set up SaleCycle?
My current employer agreed to invest in the business. Whilst I was working at Leighton, I felt the next step in my career was to take ownership and run my own business. Valuable ideas are rare, so I kept an ideas journal for 12 months. All ideas were uncomplicated as simplicity is key when developing a product solution to take to market. I had a close relationship with the Founders and Shareholders at Leighton, who were very well versed in understanding which ideas would or wouldn’t work. I also had an extensive track record of developing successful entrepreneurial business with Leighton, so I went straight to them with my idea. They helped to crystalize the idea and we spent 6 – 9 months working on the proof of concept. After this, Leighton decided to invest in the idea as a separate business, which is now SaleCycle, so I left as an employee and began my journey as an entrepreneur!
You soon discover business game isn’t just financial, it’s emotional too. You have equity and channel all of your beliefs and efforts into it. You take a step back, stare, wait and watch with the overwhelming feeling of wanting it to happen. You will check as often as you can to see if it has worked and you will find that it hasn’t around 10 times before you check and finally find that it has.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Being complacent. But this is something I’ve now learnt to address. There have been certain points in my career where I’ve presumed things have been taken care of. I can tell you know, the moment you think you’ve got it licked: you haven’t. Anything that’s worth fighting for, you have to fight for; it doesn’t come easy and it won’t happen by itself. Mistakes are not about one moment in time; a mistake can be an attitude over a prolonged period which causes you to lose ownership of your business.
Which personal trait is your biggest flaw?
Attention span. There are people in my company who will actively notice when I get bored. I’ve got a reputation for failing to reading e-mails longer than a paragraph. I like efficiency, so I’m a strong advocate of one word e-mails! It’s all about your work style, which is a matter of give and take: I learn how my colleagues like to work and in return they do the same for me.
What mind set have you adopted that can be attributed to your success?
Firstly, that you get back what you put in. However, I also believe that taking a two week holiday to lie on a beach, take a step back and reflect can do the world of good for both you and your business. I know that if I hadn’t taken some of the holidays I have, my business might be in a different position. I now approach each day as best as I can, regardless of the to-do list.
Secondly, that you have to anticipate every day there will be a new challenge that needs to be addressed by different teams. I love the freedom that comes with the kind of creativity that allows me to get involved where I see value. It’s crucial to understand that the people delivering day-in and day-out are far more important than the CEO. They are the people managing the customers’ expectations and actively engaging with prospects, so they form the biggest piece of the jigsaw and must be looked after well.
Are there any rules you disagree with?
Yes, that people don’t change. If you set your mind to something then you can change. You can adapt because there are reasons and catalysts for change and if you can find them and seize them then it’s perfect. I have changed so much throughout my life; I don’t know where I’m going to be in 10 years time.
Which entrepreneur has influenced you the most?
I actually don’t think you have to follow in everyone else’s footsteps. I never want to see another Steve Jobs quote for as long as I live. People are inspired by people through media because it teaches us about life and we absorb the morals taught by stories told in books, movies and TV programmes. We can all look up to people, but what about writing your own story? What about doing it your way? We all have our own ability to shine and excel we just need to have more faith in ourselves.
Rebel Wrap Up
If you could go back to any point in your life where would that be?
The moment I started the business. If I could go back to that point, I’d tell myself to be more confident. Sometimes you can be too cautious, whereas if you step confidently and believe in your own direction then you have the power to have a much greater impact on your business. The only person stopping you is yourself.
What advice would you give to others?