Nick Birkett, Poncho 8 – This is how we run our business:
Together with his best friend Frank Yeung, Nick Birkett runs six Poncho 8 burrito bars spread out across London. Since launching with one shop in 2009, Poncho 8 has grown phenomenally and was rated the best burrito in London by the Evening Standard. On 31st March, Nick also joins us for a Google Hangout with Arianna Huffington and Richard Sheridan where he’ll introduce our Virgin StartUp entrepreneurs, join us from 6pm. Here’s the secret to how he runs his business.
We run Poncho 8. We have a lot of fun selling London’s Best Burritos. Every interaction with Poncho should make our fans smile, be it in our food, our team or our design.
MacBook Pro and iPad Air.
We are obsessed with design – texture, shape, ergonomics. Apple seem to value a similar obsession so we use their products.
Current mobile device:
One word that best describes the way you run your business:
What apps/software/tools can't you live without?
- Spotify – food, music and weather determine my mood. Poncho 8 sorts the first, Spotify sorts the second. I just need to move to California and then I’ve got all three.
- White boards – working on a white board completely releases my mind. I love them. I love their versatility. I feel so constrained by a4 paper or computer screens.
- Things (task management app) – a friend introduced this to me. I use it constantly. It’s so simple and wonderful.
- Google Maps – I cycle everywhere. We like being above ground in London so we can find new sites for Poncho 8. Google Maps seems to show me new little routes I’d never discovered before.
What’s your workspace like?
We always work out of newest Poncho 8 shop. Right now this is in Paddington. It looks so fresh. My business partner Frank designed it.
How do you make sure you achieve your goals each day?
I have the same routine every morning. Stretch, meditate, set goals using Things. My brother mocks me for it on a daily basis, but it works!
I set 3 main goals per day and make sure I’ve actioned them before 11am.
Check email only twice per day. Not before midday.
Clearly communicate my working style to those around me. When my headphones are in I don’t want to be interrupted. (That doesn’t stop them having a go though… as I’m writing this, I can hear the others in the room taking the mick trying to distract me…)
Do you have a motto that you live by?
"Do what feels right." However much you read and whatever you are told, it all comes back to this.
What gadget can you not live without (not allowed to say phone or computer)?
White boards – old school! I can’t think properly without them.
What is the main personality trait that’s helped your business to be successful and why?
Emotional intelligence. Every leader in Poncho 8 has to be emotionally intelligent. There are so many people involved with Poncho 8, we need to understand the needs of them all – team, customers, suppliers, investors.
What do you listen to while you work?
I have to listen to albums that I know like the back of my hand. If I listen to new music I focus on it and want to keep exploring.
- Little Dragon
What book/magazine/blog would you recommend people to read and why?
- Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I think the traditional English humility and modesty holds our nation back. We could learn a lot from the messages Sheryl gives to women in this book.
- The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen. It gives you a new business idea in every page. It’s like looking into the future.
What’s the secret to collaborating with brands and other businesses?
Communication. Everything stems from this. Take care over every word in your agreements.
Who’s your hero and why?
Sir Richard Branson. I still can’t get my head around how much he has achieved. I looked at http://www.virgin.com/company the other day and burst out laughing. He has created so many successful companies it’s comical.
I met him about 5 years ago and left my ‘normal’ job as a direct result.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
I keep 2 things in mind:
“Everything will be alright” – My mum - I like taking risks so I believe in this when I do.
“Protect the downside” – Sir Richard Branson – I only heard this recently but I think it’s very prudent for people who like risks. Do it - take the risk, but think about how you can limit the downside.