I’ve been part of other groups, but BBB has been the top one for me, which is why I’ve kept going for nearly nine years because I see it as a team. It’s a group of people who’ve become friends.

Hello and welcome. So today, I’m joined by Rob Goddard. And I wanted to do this interview because, at our BBB Success Group kick-off event this year, we gave out our first ever lifetime achievement award.

Rob has been a founder member with BBB for coming up to nine years, and Rob and I have been on an incredible journey together. Rob is responsible for some of the most inspiring stories that we have but also some of the interesting times we’ve had at BBB, and he’s also responsible for one of the best business trips I’ve ever been on. The best trip, let’s be honest, that I’ve ever been on, where we set up a Mastermind in Dubai!

Watching Rob’s journey has been just an absolute privilege. And I wanted to interview Rob so you could get just a little bit of the inspiration that we’ve felt in BBB, over the last little while.

– I’ve had a few awards over the years, but each one just fills you emotionally, just to get recognition from your peers is beautiful. I did have another one, as well, which is the 100% percent achievement award.

And I’ve hit target for the last six years, every month, every quarter, every year. So, guess what? There’s no surprise that you do quite well in business if you hit the targets you set yourself.

– It’s really interesting you say that because you’re our first ever lifetime achievement award but in terms of notable achievements in 2020, we gave out more than ever, partly because of the challenge that we’ve all had but really because of how people have stepped up, and of the ones that got recognized, a vast proportion consistently showed up and did 100% of their goals throughout the year. And these weren’t tiny goals. These were big goals that people were setting and finding ways of achieving, regardless of what was thrown at them.

– But it wasn’t always like that, because we met nearly a decade ago, because I was suffering from depression.

I was depressed. I’d made a suicide attempt overseas – obviously didn’t work. And I came back to the UK with a third of a million in debt, because I had a big mortgage plus a lot of personal debt, credit cards and loans and stuff. And I owed money to the revenue as well, but I came back faced with problems.

And the thing I wanted to do when I got back to the UK, was to build my confidence. So I typed confidence coach into the LinkedIn search engine and up you popped – Tracey Miller, Confidence Coach.

We met and you gave me, over a number of months, one-to-one mentoring, coaching, someone to listen to. And then, off the back of that, you started Success Groups, in quite a small and humble way, in a barn, at the back of your garden.

But I knew I was doing the right thing and I was with the right people, even though my life was shit. I first went self-employed in November 2008, which was a week after Lehman Brothers went bust and the world went mad, and we entered the five-year recession. So I set up my first business, first time around, during the last recession, which lasted many years. So people know me now and they see Rob in a different way, which is as a serial entrepreneur, successful, and got the trappings with it in life. But that’s only recent.

– Let’s look at where you are now. You’re CEO of a successful business. You’re in a multi-million pound business that you’ve grown. And you’re looking at exiting. That’s the position that many business owners aspire to – what they dream of. But you’ve just touched on this journey. It’s really easy to judge you from where you are now – you’ve got all this stuff – but just like a lot of the business owners that we work with and a lot of business owners that are going to be watching this, you started from nothing. In fact, you started from way less than nothing, you started with minus a third of a million!

– And that’s why I just scoff at all these get rich quick schemes, because there is no such thing as getting rich quick, apart from the person running that course. There is no shortcut and it’s bloody hard work and you get lots of downs – things don’t work, lots of failures, where you have to wipe the dust off your feet and start again or rethink things. So that’s why it’s essential to be part of a group because, to be quite frank, if I weren’t part of Success Groups and the Masterminds that came later on, I don’t think I’d be in the position that I am today. And because it is lonely at the top. And particularly if you’re a one-man, two-man band, you need people around you to give encouragement, support, maybe have some insightful comments, maybe ask you a difficult question, that you know deep down you should answer, that you don’t have the courage or conviction to do it. You can’t do it on your own.

A lot of the decisions I’ve made in my businesses have been as a result of a Mastermind session or a number of sessions and seeking the wise counsel of others. I don’t make any apologies for giving you a plug with what you do.

– Please don’t apologize for that, that’s fine, you carry on.

– I’ve been part of other groups, but BBB as has been the top one for me, which is why I’ve kept going for nearly nine years because I see it as a team. It’s a group of people who’ve become friends.

But out of that is a real positive underpinning of the business journey. And as business owners, we think we’re made of granite and we can do it all ourselves, and we’re a legend in our own lunchtime. The reality is somewhat short of that. We do need other people, and I certainly couldn’t have achieved what I have in recent years, without that input and that support from the group.

– We typically target the under 100K and then the early six figures. But you’ve been with us for quite a while as a multi-million pound business. And what’s been interesting about that is that you’re still you – you’re still the you that gets challenged.

We have to evolve. New things come in and we have to learn how to develop and grow. It fundamentally sits with you. All that happens is that the scale of the problem or the quality of the problem becomes greater. But fundamentally, you still go through the same emotions, the same process in order to fix those problems. And what’s been lovely has been seeing you bring a real mixture of personal stuff, business stuff, but fundamentally you on your journey – how you as the business owner navigate emotionally through this stuff. It’s been a real privilege to see that evolution.

– And in recent years, my journey’s been one of moving from being an operator to an investor. And it’s a journey that many business owners don’t make for all sorts of reasons. One is that some business owners don’t like letting go – that’s a nice way of saying they’re control freaks. And if you’re ever going to scale a business to any sort of size and make it saleable, you need to get yourself out of the picture as the owner.

If you can’t do that, your business is likely to be unsaleable, which may not be a problem if you want to work for the rest of your life until you drop down dead. But most business owners do like to sell their company at some point. And actually, the more compelling thing is to lead a life that you really want.

And you can only do that if you’re not working 80, 90 hours a week, 24/7. Removing yourself from the centre of your own business is something to pursue in the longer term. It will free up your life. You will have time to come back to do the things you really want to do.

And you talked about exiting a business that I created. I have exited, but I’m still part of it. I’ve exited the operations because I’ve built a team of talented people around me that. Now I’ve got a team of experts that are really good at the individual parts of the business. And that releases me to do other stuff.

And I’ve invested. I’m a non-exec director in a number of other businesses. And I run a group of business owners, helping them on that business journey myself. I want to help others, not just keep it to myself, hence doing this recording with you.

– I love that. It sounds amazing. You’re now in that place where you’re exiting the bit that you want to leave behind, but you’re keeping the bit that you want to do. And you’ve got your other interests, which is what you’ve always fundamentally wanted to do. But, no disrespect Rob, there’s nothing special about you. You’ve just grinded it out. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, because obviously I think you’re amazing, but what you’ve done is continually shown up. You’ve continually set your goals. In the face of adversity, you’ve brought together your peers to help you navigate through it. But you know, all you’ve really done is continue putting yourself out there and continue doing.

– And I was in a hole for about 330K.

And now that’s a distant memory, but you’re right. The positive is, any one of us can achieve the successes that we look for. What we need is a structure and a plan and the support of others around us, that are aligned with our thinking and what we want to achieve. And it will come, even though there’ll be setbacks and there’ll be tears.

I can remember in the early days, crying in my car before a sales pitch. I had to get the tears out because I was depressed. I wasn’t earning a lot of money and the business was very fledgling. But I had to have the tears in the car.

I parked the car around the corner because it was a 14-year-old Audi A4, and then walk to the sales appointment, and that still lives with me. So yes, it won’t be easy, it’s a bloody tough job. But when you achieve regular success, there ain’t nothing feeling like it at all.

As an employee, there’s no job that would give you that.

– So I think it’s really important for people to hear that. You were not born with a silver spoon in your mouth. You were not born with some kind of superpower. You’ve had to grind it out from a place at rock bottom. Massive depression and huge debt. I understand that there are people out there dealing with that now, but you’ve been there, and you’ve moved through it and so can they. It is just about finding the right environment and keeping on showing up.

Don’t give up, that’s the key to this.

– Because when we have a period in our life that can be quite dark, quite shitty, we think that we’re the only ones that have gone through this and we’re telling ourselves a lie, because most people go through that and it’s normal. The difference is what you do with those feelings. Do you go within yourself and become insular? Or do you reach out and seek the support of other people that really do want you to succeed?

– That’s the key – being in an environment where people want you to succeed. So many people are struggling with what’s going on economically, socially, but also personally at the moment. And they just don’t have a support infrastructure. They’re not on the same wavelength as the husband or the wife or family members. And it’s pretty isolating running a business as it is, without all of that. So I think it’s so important.

– We’ve had a recession, but we haven’t felt the full effects of it, because of government assistance and support. We’ve yet to have the worst of it, and so now is the time to hunker down with a supportive business group, to navigate what are going to be quite choppy waters for the next few years – high unemployment, more difficulty getting new orders. People are still spending money but it’s harder to get that new business.

– Correct. It’s interesting what you say, because I’m having conversations with lots of people who just want to hold on. They’re thinking, if I just hold onto what I’ve got, everything will be okay.

– I’m sure that’s what people in the Titanic thought when it was sinking. But the thing is, you can’t tread water in business. You actually have to do something. Otherwise you will sink. The nice word that they use sometimes is consolidate. Well, if you consolidate, you’re likely to go out of business and certainly you will lose market share because some of your competitors won’t be consolidating, they’ll be going on the front foot.

– When we did a talk with you and Ian Mitchell of BGI, a while back, he was talking about progressive enterprises. They’re the ones that, in a recession, are aggressively going after their market share, going after their clients, whilst looking for operational efficiencies. Those are the ones that consistently succeed in a recession. And that includes the small business. That includes the one-man band. You still have to aggressively go after your market, whilst looking at how you can be as efficient as possible. It makes no difference what size you are. The principles are the same.

It’s interesting seeing how many people have been quite progressive during this last 12 months and the difference that’s made to their business. Take BBB as a sample of what’s possible. It’s been phenomenal seeing what people have achieved over that 12 months against all odds.

– Absolutely, and I think going on the front foot is the secret. That doesn’t mean spending loads of money. That just means doubling down on what you’re doing and that may be effort and energy, and it may be actually rethinking what you do as a business and re-engineering the business, so it fits the new environment, because this environment that we’ve had for the last year is going to continue for the foreseeable.

– So, Rob, what’s your one bit of advice for anyone that’s struggling right now?

– Never give up. Always show up, but never give up because it will improve. If you’re in a dark place, in a difficult place you can’t see a way out, it will change. You can’t change the world but you can change the thing that’s within you.

We create our own little mini world inside us.

– That’s a start, if we all changed our own little mini worlds, it would make up the big world. I think that’s a good place to start.

Rob, I’m delighted to be able to give you our first ever Lifetime Achievement Award. I’m hoping it’s the first of many that we’re able to give out.

Rob Goddard, it’s been an absolute joy. Thank you for taking the time.

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