HeadBox Connect: Interview with our CEO and Founder, Andrew Needham

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For our very first episode of HeadBox Connect what better way to start than with our CEO and Founder Andrew Needham? Here, Andrew talks about what being an entrepreneur means to him, his three things that define success and the one crucial piece of advice he would give to anyone looking to start their own business.

To listen to Andrew’s interview in full, along with other inspiring stories from leaders across an array of different industries, subscribe to the HeadBox Connect podcast on iTunes and Spotify.

Andrew addressing Guests at last summer’s HeadBox Summer Party at BMA House

What made you decide to be an entrepreneur and what does being an entrepreneur mean to you?

Andrew: Being an entrepreneur for me it is very much about being my own person. It’s about not following the crowd. It’s about being different. Also, it’s about following your own path in life and being able to always take your life in the direction that you want it to go. You have to be ambitious in your life if you want to do big things and make big things happen. 

For me, being an entrepreneur is also about solving problems. I’m a curious person by nature and I think HeadBox was a good example of where I questioned why. 

The final thing that I think is important about being an entrepreneur is that you never stop learning. That means putting yourself out of your comfort zone, it means sometimes taking that step into the unknown. You learn a lot from doing that.

What is the biggest mistake you have made when founding a business?

Andrew: The best way to answer this is to say that I’ve made lots of mistakes, and I think anyone listening to this who has run a business will say the same. 

The overall learning I’ve taken from the various mistakes that I’ve made are two-fold. If you realise you made a mistake it’s really important to try to understand what it is that caused you to make that mistake. Learn from it and then move on very quickly. 

Where it’s more than just a mistake and something is fundamentally not working in your business, then the thing I’ve learned there is to kill it. Kill it quickly or change it very quickly if you can, then focus all of your energy on the parts of your business that work. Don’t dwell too long on things that go wrong. 

Beating yourself up about mistakes creates a real negative energy and a negative mindset. That stops you from being able to move forward or turn that adversity to your advantage or to take something positive from the experience.

What does success look like to you?

Andrew: Success for me is based on achieving three things in my life and I set those out in my mind. 

The first one was to be a successful entrepreneur; to build my own company and my own team to solve problems. I wanted to challenge the status quo and to disrupt the way things were being done in all the businesses that I’ve set up. 

The second main goal in my life where I took a measure of my success is all around my family. I wanted to make sure that the woman I married would be the woman I am still there with using my zimmer frame as I get to my 90s. Part of that was to have lots of kids and so I feel like I’ve gone some way to achieving that.

 The third measure of success for me is all around giving something back. The social enterprise area of my life has not been as fulfilling yet as I’d like. There’s still a long way to go.

Andrew was one of 11 HeadBoxers who tackled the Three Peaks Challenge in aid of St Mungo’s last October

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to start or perhaps has already started their own business?

Andrew: If you have an idea and you are passionate and excited about it, just do it. That very act of commitment, that very act of deciding something takes you to a place that you could never have predicted you would be. You’re more likely to achieve it by just doing it than by thinking of reasons why you can’t or the things that could stop you.

So, my advice would be if you want to set up your own business, do it! Make it happen. 

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