"I think to be a great leader, you’ve got to be yourself and be genuine. That way, the team around you know where they stand." - Darren Ratcliffe tells his story to BQ.
What is it the company does?
At our core, we are a growth agency that creates cutting edge and technically advanced new websites for our clients which we then help them to promote.
The websites we create cover everything from traditional business sites through to complex eCommerce platforms. We also help attract new sales through things such as Chat Bots and Automation.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
Like most owner managed businesses, I wear lots of different hats and no two days are ever the same! I handle accounts and finance, new business development as well as some project management and development work when I’m needed. Where I contribute most with our clients though, is by using my experience to help them scope out their eCommerce projects and put together a plan that helps their businesses grow.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
My very first job was with a company called Delta Software doing development and IT support. The business isn’t trading anymore but oddly enough last year (almost 20 years on) we started working with the same software that I used to develop through a company that purchased it... It must have been well developed! After that I went on to work for Anker where my passion for web development really kicked off, followed by stints at Key 103 and across Manchester’s agency community. I set Digitl up in 2015 and have never looked back.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I think to be a great leader, you’ve got to be yourself and be genuine. That way, the team around you know where they stand. I’ve also always believed in leading by example and encouraging colleagues to make their own decisions rather than dictating everything.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
A lack of time is by and far the biggest challenge I have. Most people running a business will I sure will agree that it’s tough to get through everything that you want to do in a day. You, therefore, have to make sure that you spend some time working on (and not for) the business. I always try and have a clear set of tasks that are prioritised and that I can work through methodically.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I’m an Oldham Athletic fan, so that’s a good way to get out with friends and enjoy the football - though it’s often stressful being a Latics fan. In the past, I’ve done obstacle races and running but the knees aren’t what they were so I’ve started to go to CrossFit - it’s a good way to shut off from work completely.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember going for a meal with my mum when I was about eight and I told her I wanted to move to Japan and programme computers - I’ve been a geek a long long long time! My passion for website development used to be my hobby and now it’s my proper job… so I’m lucky I get paid to do my hobby!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Pessimism - hands down. It’s the one thing that really winds me up! As developers, it’s our job to find creative solutions for problems and all our dev team know their true job title is “Problem Solver”. We work with a can-do attitude and find the right direction for any challenge our clients may face.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
It’s really hard to say - we doubled our turnover and profits last year which was great, and we are aiming to do that again this year - naturally, that means a bigger team too. We will carry on developing exceptional solutions, giving even better customer service by working with clients that we believe in. From a technology perspective, who knows - things change at such a rate it will be impossible to know.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
I always pass on the advice that I was given by David Parrish who is a consultant in the creative sector and a great supporter and mentor of mine: “Time moves at different speeds for different people - it may seem an eternity to you, but if that person has 101 things to do, then your quote may be at the bottom of their list”.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
To read the eMyth by Michael E. Gerber and the Go Giver by Bob Burg and John D. Mann and to then follow the lessons they give! Also, network, get out and meet people… you may never sell them a single thing but when you really need a support network, they will be there for you. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that.
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