Gary King is a straight-talking Yorkshireman who has spent over 30 years in business, tackling just about every issue you’re likely to encounter. With three successful businesses under his belt and having mentored hundreds of SMEs as well as performed at MD level with large global corporates, what he’s learnt along the way is what really matters to business owners – and he believes that to be having the freedom to choose. The freedom to choose when to work, when to spend time with their family and friends, and how much to pay themselves to deliver the lifestyle they desire.
Having spent four years building the wrong business at the start of his journey he knows all too well about the self-sacrifices new entrepreneurs are willing to make – and is on a mission to try and put a stop to such dangerous life-sabotaging behaviour.
Growing up, Gary lived on a council estate in Leeds with his stay-at-home mum, and his dad, the breadwinner. With avid memories of his dad working incredibly hard, but never really reaping the rewards, he remembers his dad being a bus driver and a long-distance lorry driver before then going into business with Gary’s uncle. It was when Gary was 16 that his dad explored entrepreneurship as the two brothers built a successful shop fitting firm, providing Gary and his family with luxuries such as their own house, family holidays abroad, a decent family car and a five bed house. Gary then saw his dad’s appetite for success grow but also his focus diversify as he went on to run businesses with huge diversity, ranging from patenting products, to opening cafes and restaurants. Now 75 years old and living in a rental house on disability benefits, Gary’s dad’s hard work did not financially reward him – and this has been a red flag to him from his teens onwards.
Determined to create opportunities for himself, and driven by the strong work ethic gained from his dad, Gary left school at 17 to enter employment and by 19 had secured an apprenticeship as a management trainee with a privately owned global manufacturing business – he stayed there for almost 15 years, continually climbing the ladder and taking on roles usually reserved for more senior, often better qualified team members. The underdog set to prove himself, Gary managed clients such as Vodafone and Orange and added millions to the company’s bottom line by improving production and product development systems, reducing lead time of taking a product to market from 14 months to 8 weeks. It was through this experience that he developed his signature system of business development – ‘break it and rebuild it’.
Having created such impact, Gary was then able to request from his employers that they sponsor him to go to Uni – something he has always felt driven to do, but missed out on due to immediately entering employment. Carrying out an MA sponsored by the IoD in Company Direction, he was more qualified than many on how to run a business at the age of 24.
When there was nowhere left to go for progression in this business, Gary moved on and working for a £2billion turnover FTSE 100 business in his 30’s he further honed his business skills, as he found his place streamlining and improving the profitability of some of their faltering businesses, providing an increase of 3.5% net profit in his first year and creating a whole new business division providing new income streams.
At 33 he was delivering huge results over his more established peers and one year in he broke their business model – and rebuilt it, resulting in taking a division that was billing £300K a year to one that brought in £3million a year for the business. Before he left, he was working as Sales Director, on the board of directors in the UK and was looking after a £24million a year global client.
However, all this rapid progression had taken its toll on Gary’s family life, and his unwavering work ethic and commitment to generating results had seen his relationships pay the price. At risk of burnout and compromising his family life he left the corporate life and committed to creating a business that would give him more freedom to work on his terms.
Conscious of his father’s story of having put all the hours in but not having generated financial freedom, and of his own story of having worked all hours which was seeing him miss out on his son growing up, he vowed to create both financial and personal freedom in the business he was to establish and he vowed that these goals would also be what he helped his clients achieve. Driven by the vast knowledge he’d gained working at high level sales, Gary focused his efforts as he was setting his business up in a recession, one he felt that he could help his clients navigate if only they had the right sales processes in place. He was passionate about using all the skills he’d learnt in the corporate world to change the dial on the amount of SMEs failing and saw this as his mission.
Tendo was born in 2010 and despite having supported hundreds of SMEs through recession with his knowledge and skills, Gary was not achieving his own goals. His financial and personal freedom were at an all-time low, he felt trapped by a business that couldn’t function without him, yet wasn’t earning enough money for him to outsource. So what was wrong? What was the issue? He realised four years in at 2am when doing his expenses claims in a bid to claw back every penny with him not making ends meet, that he had in fact built the wrong business – the wrong business for him – and the coming months were then focused on breaking his model and rebuilding it.
A key driver of Gary’s for leaving corporate world was improved lifestyle. Being able to see his son play football and following his football team home and away, something he never managed to do often enough when employed…yet still never managed to do as a business owner and in fact even being present when he was with his son was a struggle.
He said: “My son helped me see my business was broken when on holiday he came up to me and pleaded, ‘please come and play in the pool dad – you’re always on your phone’. This hit me hard and made me realise that I was trapped by the very business that I had wanted to free me up”.
This was his wake-up call – he was doing it all wrong as his freedom hadn’t materialised, and he was much worse off financially too. So, Gary set about reverse engineering his business based on the life he wanted to live and made a lot of changes – and from here he also worked out how to best serve his customers. He was hit with the realisation that sales execution is only one tiny element of businesses success and that he’d been missing out too many other crucial steps with his clients – so Tendo was reborn and now it included wider business strategy and mentoring support, marketing and business systems to ensure Gary could help from a 360 degree approach. He got himself his own business mentor and really honed what his passion and purpose was alongside the requirements of building a solid business, and started to outsource admin so he could focus on the business elements he loved and was good at, and advised clients to do the same.
This also meant that he was able to work less hours, providing the opportunity to enjoy the elements of lifestyle he has been missing out on.
He worked out that the magic number was an extra 5K. Earning an extra 5K a month would enable him to invest in outsourcing, put systems in place and create a business and lifestyle that he actually wanted – so he set about developing a system that enabled this – something that he now teaches his clients today.
Now Gary is the proud owner of three businesses that focus on business strategy and mentoring, marketing strategy and operational admin support and is determined to stop clients making the mistakes he made, so they can fast track their business success.
Tendo is now refocused on supporting business owners to build the right business, one which will deliver the freedom to choose….and often this requires Gary’s ‘break it to fix it’ model.
He said: “People need to realise they have a problem. Sometimes it’s important to recognise your baby is ugly. Sometimes you need to break your business to fix it.”
A client’s take on it: “Gary is renowned for asking the difficult questions that no-one else dares ask – or the ones you don’t dare ask yourself, however blended with his truly collaborative nature, being his clients biggest cheerleaders and his focus on delivering such strong ROI I couldn’t ask for a more supportive business mentor.”
Gary’s experience alongside his uncompromising drive for accountability has transformed many businesses across multiple sectors and of all sizes. He supports with start-ups and early businesses on getting their foundations right via his online programmes and supports more established businesses providing strategy, business mentoring and leadership development giving them the clarity, focus and accountability for their next vital steps in business.
How Gary can help you
Gary fulfils many roles for business across the UK – business strategist. mentor, non-exec director – but at the heart of it all is a desire for business owners to live the life they dreamed about when they first started a business.
Gary works with businesses which recognise they need to grow, develop new products, find new markets and make efficiencies to compete and succeed. Through his 1-2-1 Business Mentoring, online training and group training events, Gary is one of the top business mentors in the UK.
To chat with Gary, book a 30 minute free Discovery Call here.