There are two things in life that everyone can agree on wanting: a good deal, and a good holiday.
However, cheap flights can be hard to come by. Especially if you’re not prepared to put the work in and spend hours searching for them on fiddly price comparison websites.
It was this common frustration that gave computing graduate Gareth Williams his lightbulb idea. Cue a brainstorming session with friends Bonamy Grimes and Barry Smith, and bam - Skyscanner (a search engine that compares flight prices across the world) - was born.
Initially a “technology company built for travellers”, it wasn’t long before Skyscanner became a global market leader in independent flight search sites, with over 30,000 users on the site at any given moment.
So how did they soar?
1. Dedication. Williams always had a genuine passion for what he was doing, and driven by core goals, never veered from them along the way. With growth, start-ups can become static and stale, but by putting the right policies and the right people in place, Williams and co maintained a rewarding and positive workplace.
2. He knew sticking to a corporate mindset wouldn’t get him anywhere, and maintains a start-up mentality to this day. With tech as their focus, he fosters a ‘build, measure and learn’ approach (treating every new marketing campaign as if it were a new product feature he’s trying to develop each time.)
3. Williams and co knew that having to outsource people just wasn’t practical, and acknowledged the power of working with in-house experts. (They went as far as having a programmer on the founding team, which gave the company first hand expertise and total control over user experience)
4. They maintained their culture. Williams regularly implores tactics like seat swapping - involving staff switching places for a day, so they can really understand each others roles within the company.
By tapping into such huge market potential, and applying a startup mindset to everything they do, it’s no wonder Skyscanner is one of the most successful tech start-ups in the whole of the UK.
Luckily, this mindset can be learnt.
Jolt. Teaching start-up business.
Charles Darwin took long walks around London. Kurt Vonnegut made listening to jazz a daily priority. Fiona Apple disappeared for 6 years after the release of her third album.
I ask because I can often be found agonising over the "more". If only I posted on Instagram more, I'll think in the bath. I'd have more followers if I pitched to more publications. I need to post 2 more times a week, minimum. I could go on...
Between you and me, I've got frustrated with myself for browsing Facebook or watching too much TV more times than I can remember.
And I'm not alone. So many of us are terrified of taking a break, creatively speaking. We won't let a moment pass without listening to a podcast, consuming an article or sharing something.
The cognitive load is real, y'all.
But like Vitamin D, sleep and good food, it's not only ok to take a break, it's essential.
Living a successful life is also about knowing when not to work. For your best output, you need to focus on your input, too.
The world won't end if you disappear from the internet for a week or so. Your creativity won't suddenly stop. Your time is now, but your time was also then and it will be again.
Many of us confuse being "busy" with being constructive. But you can only do your best work by taking breaks.
And science backs it up, too. The brain requires substantial downtime to do its most innovative thinking. The ideas you have while driving or in the shower aren't coincidental. They're a result of you taking a step back, whether you're aware of it or not.
Let yourself take a wonderful and indulgent break. Several breaks. Hell, get downright bored.
Wallow in it. Don't be afraid of it. Push it as far as you can.
When you leave your laptop behind, something always happens. A new idea or a fresh perspective appears.
Take proper breaks, often. Completely clear your mind. Your next best idea depends on it.