• The Business Owner

Meet the Boss - Richard Godfrey

Name: Richard Godfrey

Company Name: Syncity Ltd

Position: Managing Director

Industry: IT

What was your first job or role after education?

My first ‘real’ job was in Cheltenham for a company that sold refurbished catering equipment to the trade. Although I started in a Sales role, I moved to Operations in a small reshuffle, before moving to London to open a new showroom for them. Prior to this I had had various jobs working in pub kitchens, McDonalds and petrol stations whilst studying.

Could you describe your career path for the reader?

After moving to London, I decided to move on from catering equipment. Like most people I walked into a temp agency and took the first role offered. It was a month contract with Westminster City Council, that turned into a five-year stay. Following this I went back to the private sector working for an automotive subsidiary of DHL, working on a contract with Volvo, and getting to play in lots of different cars. I then returned to local government with Peterborough City Council, in a similar role to Westminster.

After about a year an opportunity arose to contract manage their IT service, that had been recently outsourced. I got the job, and from no real IT background joined the industry at the right time as technology was being seen as more than just a back-office tool. Ten years later, and many incredible opportunities, I left to join one of our suppliers at the time and after a further three years decided to take the plunge to go it alone and set my own business up, which is where I find myself today.

What is your current role and what is your favourite part about it?

I work for myself, so although I have a fancy Managing Director title, I manage a team of one. I genuinely love the flexibility that I now have in my life. I have some amazing customers that I work with. The best part is realising the improvements in their own ability when it comes to technology. Many customers are not technophobes, but they do not really understand technology or what it can do for their business. They have had bad experiences in the past and these are stopping them from making the most of the tools available to them. Giving them the confidence to unravel their problems and then to search for solutions is hugely powerful. More so than having a consultant come in and tell them what solutions to use. The enthusiasm that they show for technology projects after I have worked with them is genuinely why I do what I do, and I know it is a skill then can use repeatedly into the future.

Are you optimistic, realistic or pessimistic about 2021?

I would say realistic but with a hint of optimism. I do not think things will be as bad as last year and many of my customers are now on a recovery path. I have recently worked with a Cathedral that for centuries has had a huge monolithic building at the heart of everything they do. With covid, they suddenly became a Cathedral without a cathedral. Moving forwards, they are now in a much better position both technically and personally to adapt to whatever the future brings.

What is the most important task you carry out each day?

Making tea. I could not work without it. I drink far too many cups a day. Aside from that I do not really have a set routine of tasks. I diarise most things that I need to do and spread them over the week. My downtime is probably the most important task, I always give myself an hour a day to sit quietly and work out the answers to questions that have posed themselves either that day or week.

What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self about your career journey?

Do not be afraid to stop and start again. I think I stayed in roles that were ultimately dead-end jobs, but they paid well. Having the confidence to step away from just seeing the salary and to focus on working in a role that you enjoy is valuable. Too often I stayed an extra couple of years because I focused too much on earnings. It is probably whey it took me too long to go it alone.

Have there been any positives about 2020 and lockdown for you?

I used the time to really figure out what the business was and what I was doing and enjoyed doing. Although I reduced my customers for a while, the lockdown forced me to gain clarity in the business. I was not even a year old at that point. I also used the time to write a book, that explains my methodology and the benefits of technology. Which is not only great for customers and leads, it also cemented my own thinking.

What causes you the most stress at work?

Last year I would have said where the next £ is coming from. This year I think it would be ensuring the website content is correct and is working as a lead generator. I am not sure it is today, but its on the list. I’m not really a person that gets too stressed though; I see it more as an annoyance that I can’t always put into words what I want to say. If in doubt, have a cup of tea and a think!

If you could instantly change one area or thing about your business, what would it be?

I’m currently working on providing my knowledge as part of an accelerator or foundation programme. This takes quite a lot of work, so if I could change anything it would be to have someone else do all this. The rest of my work I really enjoy.

What do you do to unwind?

I live in Hove and have a beachfront flat, so relaxing usually involves a beach, a bottle, and some sunscreen. Either that or it's watching or playing sport. I’m getting a bit old for playing competitively these days, but I still enjoy it as much as ever, until the following morning.

If you could give a single piece of advice to a start up entrepreneur what would that be?

Never stop learning. I read constantly, I listen to podcasts, audiobooks, I read LinkedIn and industry publications. I’ve attended business courses and do at least one bitesize (2-3 hours) course a month. If you stop learning and trying to improve yourself then you will struggle. I have to wear so many different hats, it’s sometimes difficult to find the time to do everything well but learning what you can do and what you enjoy goes a long way to finding out what to outsource.