Niall Harbison could be described as Ireland’s most prolific digital entrepreneur. Originally a chef, his career swung in 2007 when he co-founded Simply Zesty, which became a hugely successful digital media agency with offices in Dublin and London. He sold the business to UTV in 2012 and put his nest egg into other fledgling businesses, including Bia Beauty, PR Slides, Carve Cases, and the massively popular blog site, lovindublin.com. Niall was a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 and mentors with Enterprise Ireland.
We meet Niall, a guest speaker at the next IMAGE Networking Breakfast, and ask…
What was the best bit of advice you’ve gotten in your career?
Probably when working for a billionaire and he sat me down when I was starting a business and said, “you should enjoy every little bit of the journey because too many people focus on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.” I’ve learned to enjoy the small wins as you go along since that conversation.
Did you ever have a ‘master plan’, and if so, did it work? Or what turns did life take?
I find that you can have the best laid plans in business but that they never seem to run the way you think they will. Some companies pride themselves on having huge big long term business plans but I think because of the world we live in today you need to move fast and be uber flexible.
What characteristics make a good entrepreneur and why?
Risk taking is the main thing that sets entrepreneurs apart from the rest of the world along with not being afraid to fail. The really good ones are also able to execute brilliantly once the idea has been conceived.
Your book “How To Get Shit Done”… what’s it about? Why did you write it?
Just like the title says, it is about getting shit done. We all start the week / month / year with a huge list of things to get done but we end up not achieving half of them for whatever reason. I’d read so many boring business books or lofty novels from Harvard scholars and I just thought I could hopefully write something way more relevant.
Do you mentor other businesses? What is most useful to them?
I do the odd time when I think I can add value. I think the main thing is telling them all about the mistakes I’ve made and making sure they don’t ever do the same themselves. You can learn a lot from others’ mistakes and we all make plenty of them!
If you were doing it all again, what short cut would you/could you take?
Go bigger quicker. It actually gets a little easier when you are bigger than when you are scrapping around at the bottom. When you start you try to do your own accounts, legals and all the other stuff you just aren’t good at. Outsource it and focus on your core strengths.