Lara Morgan’s More balls than most is a highly readable guide to setting up your own business.
Lara Morgan knows what she’s talking about. Not only did she set up a business at 23 which she sold for £20 million, but she has built it up while raising three children.
Her book mixes in her own personal experiences of business and it rips along at the energetic pace which seems to have played a big role in her success.
It is a warts and all picture. She says that admitting your mistakes is one element of business success and she is not afraid to tell it like it happened and show how she also learned from her mistakes.
The book starts from the beginning with how she set up Pacific Direct, a company specialising in hotel products, and even her family background – how her dad wanted to be a self-made millionaire, but was declared bankrupt the year she left school. This left her with no qualifications after A Level and how moving around the world and going from boarding school to counting the pennies made her better at planning, taught her the value of hard work and gave her the determination to achieve success and financial security.
And she did work hard, often harder than was absolutely advisable, but her passion seems to have carried her along. She is very honest about her devotion to her business and how she didn’t like being a stay-at-home mum. Indeed, she found it easier to spend more time with her children when they were past the baby and toddler stage.
She says at one point that she recognises that she performs better “with total engagement of my attention and interest – with little children in small doses and that I find it entirely unfulfilling to be a full-time mother”. She adds that it is better for her to spend quality time with her children “rather than lots of time being miserably torn from my first ‘child’: Pacific Direct.”
Each chapter of the book is punctuated by tips and advice, such as Lara’s Laws, which makes it easy to dip into.
Lara admits that she was a bit green when she set up the business and recounts how she basically bluffed her first order from The Dorchester, after they agreed a deal and then asked if she had a warehouse to store stock. She didn’t, but she wasn’t going to let on. Instead she went about researching how she would fulfill the order and she came through. Having a prestigious name like The Dorchester on your client list from the off opened a lot of doors.
She emphasises throughout the need to be open and to keep learning and asking questions. The book also includes tips on creating a good team spirit and encouraging staff. Lara promotes a straight-up approach to dealing with problems. If the business is going badly or someone is underperforming it is better, she says, to confront it head on and then move forwards. She advises going with your gut instinct and making “swift decisions” if someone is not right for the team. She is also a keen fan of delegation. “Focus on what you personally do well…” she says, “and employ others for the stuff they are good at.” That will mean giving them extra responsibility and maybe pushing them out of their comfort zone, but it will help them progress. However, she says, never totally relinquish customer contact so you are in touch with what is going on at grassroots level.
She says it is important to treat staff well, to celebrate successes, however small and to constantly seek ideas on how to improve the business. For instance, she states that if you can’t reward staff with money you can reward them with time, allowing them to finish early at the end of the week, for instance.
Time and again in the book Lara shows how she has relentlessly pursued business success, working all hours and taking advantage of every opportunity going, for instance, returning messages and making the follow-up calls that can lead to new business and make the difference between a successful business and a so-so one. She counsels: “Work harder than you have ever worked before, because every hour of effort you put in will build your asset.With two equally smart people, and all other circumstances being equal, the person that acts faster gets there first.”
Lara finishes with a chapter entitled “Cut yourself some slack” and a look to the future. She says that, despite her passion for her business, she knows it is important to have some balance in her life, even if this is only temporary. She suggests working till you drop to establish the business, but then ensuring you have a real holiday every so often where you can totally switch off. And she advises that it is important to give yourself treats. She says many successful business people forget to plan their lives because they are so focused on planning their business. Writing lists of what you want to achieve in your life is vital, she says. Mentors can help and she advises changing mentors once you have “outgrown” them.
Lara’s new business is about inspiring and encouraging other entrepreneurs. Her book is a big first step.
More Balls Than Most is published by Infinite Ideas Ltd, price £12.99.