Manila. Philippines

Half Way Around the World


It may have been a while since posting an update here, however don’t think for one second I’ve disappeared, as I’m sure many of you already know, I’ve been super busy.

As I’m writing this, I’m half way round the world I’m sat in a hotel in Makati, in the Philippines. After leaving early autumn behind in the UK two days ago, I can confirm it’s rather toasty on this side of the world at the moment, at 28C!

But what has brought me half way around the world?

Two reasons.

The first is that for the past two years for UnderstandingE I have been working with Dave to build out a team to help us expand our business.

Across two businesses I now have a team of 7 full time members of staff & 1 part time and it’s a perfect time for us to actually meet up with the people that have been helping us, several since the beginning, face to face.

I had no idea back then that I would ever be meeting any of our remote staff to face to face one day. I’m super excited to be here and have the opportunity to say “thank you” personally.

Note: Yes we might been using SCRUM as a business process that calls for daily sprint meetings, so the whole team meets up every work day, but even still this face to face thing is going to be rather odd! And if you’ve not heard of SCRUM before, see this 10 minute video.

And the second reason is….

We’re meeting up with around 100 fellow entrepreneurs next week for a week of masterminds and events in Bangkok, Thailand.

For the past few years I’ve been quite happy to just work from home and do everything remotely, however as the businesses have grown, things need to change, so being able to mix both of these events into one trip is a huge bonus for me.

How did I end up in the Philippines?

2015-10-06 14.49.01

For the rest of this article, I’m going to focus in on the events that have brought me to where I am sat today and what my goals are while I’m here.

If there is only one thing you can pick up & take away to help you & your business right now, that is to simply expand and build your team out.

A well defined, experienced team is critical to a businesses success.

A mistake I made first time around and I’ll never make again.

Learning from My Major Mistake

Back 10 years or so ago, I had pretty much the same attitude as I have today, it’s just been refined and made a lot easier for others to understand.

It can be boiled down to two key things:

#1 The point of view on everything: It can’t be that hard can it?
#2 The action event, “do it”. Everything is in the execution.

Starting my first business that used to use eBay & Amazon to sell online, I learnt a lot of things and I also equally made a lot of mistakes.

Waking up in a tent in Paignton at breaking point, deciding, “I’m out” was not a nice experience. Don’t get me wrong, in the previous 3 years I had broken down a lot of barriers and I didn’t stop learning from the day I started, however now in hindsight I had made one epic mistake.

That was simply, not hiring enough staff, fast enough.

You may have heard this being called “superhero-syndrome” (control-freak is another), the belief that you can do anything and everything yourself. And boy did I have that!

The reality is that you have to do everything when the business starts. You know all the hats we end up wearing that you never signed up for, you just do whatever it takes to make the business work.

However the trick I missed was that once you have the ball rolling, you should immediately back fill tasks with a role for someone else to replicate the task for you.

I wish I was able to meet the me 10 years ago and point him in the right direction. It’s a mistake that I made and I do my best to share publicly so others can learn from it too. I sincerely hope you take the nudge on this.

When starting UnderstandingE two years ago (yes! UnderstandingE is now two years old as we started it in Sept 2013), one of the conditions when working with Dave was that we had to hire into the team as quickly as sensible.

That team today now consists of a video editor, content editor, an assistant and my wife whom helps out part time. The other heads are for the support & development of WidgetChimp.

Note: These are ALL full time members of staff. As far as I am concerned (and perhaps you should be too), is that when it comes to staff you’re either IN or OUT. For me that means no part time members of staff. Well with one exception, my wife is also in the UE team, but that’s a topic for another day.

The Team Tomorrow

Looking to the future, the team “tomorrow” is about to double in size.

We have realised that to go from where we are today, to where we want to be, we need to start working on increasing the team and back filling tasks that we’re currently doing ourselves, but could be done better by someone else.

Taking a moment to think about a similar scenario that you’ll find easy to understand, think about Sir Richard Branson, how many companies does he run? (If you don’t know of him, it’s lots! Virgin Media, Atlantic, Bank, Cars and so on).

Then ask yourself, does he have the ability to manage all of these business concerns by himself?

Of course not.

Simply, as a human he has exactly the same constraints that you and I have. 60 minutes in an hour,  24 hours in a day and 7 hours in a week.

Something has to budge!

Tomorrow an online community manager will be joining the UnderstandingE team and we have several new positions that we’re advertising for at the moment. Hopefully we’ll be able to conduct a couple of interviews while we’re here!

For UnderstandingE there are 2 key things that myself & Dave need to focus on, #1 the continued success of the business and #2 the parts we physically cannot or do not want to give to anyone else.

For us #2 is simply the creation of the course & tutorials that we create, these in our minds must feature myself & Dave, however everything else, that could be easily covered by a well defined role for someone else to look after for us.

Also an interesting dynamic, which you can hear myself & Dave discuss in our recent Podcast on UnderstandingE here is that we’re also putting into place “project managers” too.

This is to assist us with both the current concern, UnderstandingE and for me personally WidgetChimp as well, but also while we’re out here in the Philippines we’re also looking to start another business, a design & development agency.

I have to go now, one of my team is meeting me for breakfast in the hotel at 07:00.

I’ve been up since 04:20 this morning as I am so excited to be meeting him. I have some good news for him, he’s receiving a promotion and the best thing of all, he has no idea!

I’ll be posting another update in a couple of days, also look out for a new Podcast on the UnderstandingE site here in a day or so. We’re keeping track of our movements & experiences while here the best we can.

As always, to your continued success,


PS. The LastDropoInk site has had a design revamp (far from being finished) and we’re now running on https too. What to you think of it? Let me know in the comments box below.

1 reply
  1. Rik
    Rik says:

    Nice view there and nice blog post Matt! I do get what you say, I am a big control freak and am very guilty in doing everything myself to somewhat perfection. It does limit me in some ways but then it brings rewards in other ways.

    Having staff is a cost, a responsibility and gives you a new task: management.

    In an ideal world, yes get staff but in a realistic world, how would you pay their wages? (assuming you have not had investment).

    I personally know successful people in business both with no staff, a few staff and over 100 staff. I think it depends on many factors.

    Anyway, here’s to your continued success and I look forward to hearing from you on here and UE soon to tell us what you learnt!


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