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The Hidden Challenges of Running a Business

Pete Watson

Aisling Harrison Press Releases, Director, HR...

In the most recent episode of The Ambitions Podcast, we were joined by Pete Watson, the founder and Managing Director of our partner, Distract.

Over the last few years, Pete and Distract have risen in prominence around the Lincolnshire area and with major UK brands due to their digital marketing and brand services.

Pete shared with us his biggest challenges on his journey so far, and his biggest surprises.

“It went from me and Brad [Distract’s Co-founder and Operations Director] working in Café Nero putting the graft in to finally getting our first office. And with that came our first hire,” Pete says on his early days.

Pete had always anticipated that gaining respect in a predominantly senior-led business community would be a challenge given he was in his early 20s with only a few years of experience, but what he hadn’t factored was gaining the respect from his team.

“From a management perspective, it was a challenge to hire people older and more experienced than us. Having the respect of our team was essential to growing it.”

To ensure Distract’s growth, Pete knew he couldn’t tiptoe around being a young entrepreneur. He realised to earn the respect of his team and clients, however old, his youth and innovation was something to be embraced.

“The way I got around it was envisioning some form of leadership, and the great thing with leadership is that age really doesn’t matter. If you can lead and have a sure sign of where you’re going, people will want to jump on that journey with you,” Pete reveals.

Currently, Distract employs 15 members of staff in a range of marketing specialities, including three heads of departments in addition to Pete and Brad.

“The biggest challenge in business isn’t business, it’s HR. Nothing prepares you for people management, you just have to learn on the job. The first time I encountered staff that required sickness or bereavement leave, I had no clue what to do. This is why I look up to Ambitions, who manage thousands of workers” admits Pete.

Through this, Pete discovered that his role as a business leader meant that, in reality, he was actually a Head of HR, which was never a part of his career plan.

“It is stressful and it is difficult, even for someone like me who considers themselves a reasonable people person. It did take time within the role to realise it’s okay to feel like certain interactions and procedures could have been handled better. They are all lessons to progress me as I move forward in my business journey.”

Ultimately for Pete, honesty has been the best policy when it comes to managing his team and keeping them engaged.

“Being open and honest about the fact I will make some mistakes means my team is willing to back me as long as I’m focused on securing them wins. The most important thing about my business journey is sharing it with amazing people, and to retain these amazing people, I need to empower them to be the best they can be and continually progress them.”