Andy And Jill’s 25 Lessons From 25 Years!

Twenty-five years ago this month, back in May 1995, Blackburn Rovers won the Premiership, Robson and Jerome were number one in the charts with Unchained Melody and we started our business, Hallmarks Business Development.

We grew to a team of 14, sold to the management team and then started again with just three of us in 2004.

As part of our reflections on those 25 years, we came up with 25 lessons we’ve learned, and I thought I’d share them with you in this month’s column.


Here they are…

  1. Play To Your Strengths – work out what they are and build on them.
  2. Do What You Enjoy – not what you don’t!
  3. Make Sure Those First Two Things Make Commercial Sense – no point being great at something that no one wants.
  4. Fill The Gaps – by finding people to do what you can’t or won’t.
  5. Recruit For Attitude – and develop for skill.
  6. Take A Punt – on people, on ideas and on opportunities. Try things and encourage your people to do the same.
  7. Have Fun!
  8. Build Relationships for the long term – some of our clients in our early days are still clients today.
  9. Choose ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em…people, clients and suppliers – it is OK to say ‘no’.
  10. Keep In Touch With People When They’ve Gone – ex-employees can be great ambassadors for you, and, in our case, can be clients, too!
  11. Push The Boundaries – encourage questions and challenges from your people, and from yourself.
  12. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For What You Want – the answer might be ‘yes’.
  13. Clarify Roles – people like clarity.
  14. Find Out What Makes People Tick ¬– and use this to motivate them.
  15. Push People Out Of Their Comfort Zones – but make sure you support them.
  16. Make Friends With Finance Departments – they pay your bills!
  17. Value Your Values– use them, demonstrate them and live them.
  18. Always Read The Small Print – we got caught out a number of times when we started the business, and when we sold it!
  19. It’s More Than A Business – ours was a family!
  20. You’re Always At Work – some of our best ideas, contacts and opportunities came when we were well away from the office, even on holiday.
  21. Enjoy it! Make it fun.
  22. Take A Chance On People.
  23. Get Rid Quick – if they don’t ‘fit’.
  24. Make Things Memorable – delight your customers, and employees.
  25. Find The Right Partner – marrying them later is an option!

If you’d like to hear these ideas, and lots more, watch them on our ‘Business Exercises With Andy and Jill’ at


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