My scaleup story: Leon Calverley, Door4

Leon Calverley, Door 4
Tell us about your growth story

I’m the founder and managing director of Door4. The company has grown from a freelance web designer in 2000 to an agency supporting national clients with 19 staff in 2020.

Operating in the growing but highly competitive digital marketing industry, Door4 has constantly reinvented itself to fit the changing needs of businesses.

How did you know you were ready to scale your business?

You can feel the curve levelling off. In an industry which presents so much opportunity, the need to scale is ever-present. If you don’t strive to scale in our business, you move backwards.

What elements does a leader need to put in place to facilitate rapid growth?

A solid management team is crucial. You can’t scale if you’re too involved in the detail of your business. We’re a B2B client service business, so I need to ensure that I have operations and client care covered off with great people who don’t need intensive management.

A plan and guidance is equally important. I’ve taken advice and guidance through programs such as Goldman Sachs 10KSB, and with Edge Hill Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC). These help leaders and managers see growth opportunities more clearly – in a way that is tricky from inside the box.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned during your journey?
  • There is no rulebook for growth
  • As a leader, you’re on your own
  • Some decisions work, some don’t
  • Some stuff happens whether you like it or not, and you can influence other events
  • No business book or TED talk can really equip you to handle everything that happens in your year so you need to be resilient and have confidence in your judgement
What three top pieces of advice would you give to a business hoping to scale?
  1. Get external advice: a mentor, a marketing expert and somebody that understands money. Never assume that you know it all (or that you are expected to!) Their input (if it’s one or more people) will be crucial.
  2. Have a plan. Growth rarely just happens. It’s the result of preparedness, plus the effort to see through that plan. And perhaps a little opportunity and good fortune along the way.
  3. Know your marketplace. Be clear on the types of customers that will support your growth. Which are profitable, which are relevant, which can you service – either today, or in a year.  Selling to the wrong people is a recipe for stagnation and failure.

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