Finding simplicity and focus in life and business

Posted by: Stafford Sumner


You never think it’s going to happen to you. And when it does you wonder how you didn’t see it coming.

At least that’s what it felt like to me.

Before I go there, let me give you some context. Firstly, running a business is absolutely brilliant. I love it. Always have and I hope I always will. It’s what I do best. But of course, as with all things in life, it comes with a very unique set of pressures. There are clients to keep happy, employees and suppliers to pay, and peers to impress.

And when you’ve taken a business from a blank sheet of paper to a thriving enterprise, you can’t help being emotionally invested in it. So whenever things go wrong (and let’s be honest here, in life things do go wrong despite our best efforts) it’s incredibly difficult not to take it personally.

What’s more, if you’re a driven person like I am, you’ll rarely stop. You’ll ignore the warning signs and you’ll keep going because that desire to succeed is what makes you who you are.

You’ll do this until you reach a point where the decision is taken out of your hands.

That’s what happened to me in the autumn of 2016 when I unexpectedly woke up in the back of an ambulance after mother nature fired a warning shot across my bow. Once I realised I was going to be ok, I knew right then something had to change both in life and in business. This was no joke.

I’ll pause here just to say that I’m ok. A combination of factors including fatigue, stress, anxiety and the added bonus of a couple of broken ribs had taken their toll on me. So, fairly soon afterwards, I headed off to Australia for a month where I slept well, ate healthily, exercised in the sun, laughed with friends and was so chilled they had to peel me off Manly Beach.

This was all well and good but I knew the true challenge would start when I returned home. I set myself the goal of making sure I would slow life down, I would spend more time enjoying the moment and I would get back to being the best version of myself.

Of course, during this time, my thoughts also turned to business; to where I’ve been, to where I am now and to where I want to go. There were two words I kept coming back to; Simplicity and Focus. Words many business leaders, myself included, always know the importance of but too rarely put into action.

I realised, that without intending to and for all the right reasons, I’d lost that beautiful simplicity from the work I do, and Jarrang does. Over the past few years we’ve had an amazing time and been on some steep learning curves as we responded to market changes and diversified away from our core offering of email marketing. I’m hugely proud of the work the company has achieved in this period, delivering some sensational projects for clients around the world.

However, the time is now right for us to bring our focus back to what we do best; email marketing. The power of email as a marketing channel is continuing to grow despite the predictions we hear from ‘experts’ year in and year out sounding the death knell of email marketing.

The industry is in good health with many exciting developments on the horizon and, while it’s now possible for anyone to send out an email to a database, there remain only a select few who can do it well. I include my highly talented team in this elite group.

2017 will see us developing and refining our email marketing offering to regain our place at the leading edge of our industry. For me personally, it’s a hugely exciting time and one I’m relishing with renewed vigour but with a greater focus on my personal health and wellbeing as well as that of my team.

So let me end by saying this; if you’re out there running a business you should love every minute of it. You should ride that roller coaster and you should chase your dreams. While doing so, don’t lose sight of yourself, take the time to look after number one and to support others around you who do a similar thing. And when you need it, don’t be afraid to take time out, because you’ll be amazed at the impact it will have and the clarity it will bring.

About the author

Stafford Sumner

An expert in developing businesses through email marketing, Stafford founded Jarrang in 2003, and since then has worked with hundreds of business across the globe helping them grow and succeed.