Exeleon Magazine

Ian Jackson: Offering Transformative Values to Start-ups

Ian Jackson_Exeleon Magazine

Whether you are an established entrepreneur building your company or a newbie entrepreneur just starting off, the most important thing to do is surround yourself with like-minded people who share the same values as yours. By surrounding yourself with people that you can trust, you create a positive aura of influence that motivates you to be your best.

Ian Jackson was fortunate in this department as he had his best friend Jeff in the corner of the company surrounding him. And like any other stories where people talk about establishing a business over meetings, Ian and Jeff gave foundation to Enshored over a couple of beers. Following this meeting of these two brilliant minds, they moved on to establish a presence in Manilla and began the arduous task of acquiring clients, hiring employees, and expanding the company.

Exeleon dives a little deeper into the success story of Ian Jackson, his entrepreneurial spirit, and his drive to help start-ups through his outsourcing firm.

A Clear Beginning

Ian grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland, in a middle-class family. His parents were both elementary teachers and were extremely supportive. While his father had a steady job, he also used to spend time playing music for extra income. Just like his parents, almost everyone in Ian’s family worked for the state or one of Scotland’s large financial institutions. Hence, Ian had no idea about the pool of available job opportunities in the world beyond this. He knew that he didn’t want to become a teacher, so he followed in his father’s footsteps and, for the moment, thought about becoming a musician.

Soon Ian realized that he had an entrepreneurial spirit. During high school he worked before school in a shop, delivering newspapers in the neighborhood. He also created and sold his own music fanzine, was part of school bands, and by college was running events and concerts at local nightclubs.

Years down the line, following  his successful career stint as the Executive Director of Dealogic and Vice President of Operation at TaskUs, Ian met Jeff through a conversation with a mutial friend while cycling along  the Pacific Coast Highway.

In 2013, both Ian and Jeff were at their inflexion points. Jeff was running a large corporate team in the Philippines, which he loved. On the other side, Ian was serving at another BPO firm. During a friendly meeting, both came up with the name Enshored as the company was founded in Belmont Shore in Long Beach, wherein they were playing around with onshore/offshore themes.

Recalling the moments, Ian asserts, “The thrill of that moment when you go from investing all your money through break-even into profit was something that I found really satisfying. For some reason, I lost touch with that side of me in trying to go down the employee route, but I am so glad I rediscovered it.”

Challenges Were Waiting for Ian

As the firm had a rock-solid start, Ian was quite happy with the way Enshored was sailing the oceans of the industry. The firm may have been a few degrees off from its initial plan, but Ian was still pleased with the business plan and its execution. However, what troubled him was the wait for sales success.

Ian shares that waiting for sales success can be pretty hard for any business. Young businesses may do everything right but still would wait for a long time for sales success to come. For Ian, the challenge was hard as it was on an emotion level. In his words, “I had a young family at home, mouths to feed, and I was impatient for the time we finally reached some scale and profitability. Those first 3-4 years were hard to plan for.”

Citing the freedom to make up their own decisions, the co-founders even said no to external funding. Ian firmly believed that external funding creates awful inflexion points as the business grows, and cash dries up. He recalls that it was the best decision taken by the duo at that point in time.

As Ian foreclosed the chapter of sales success, another tragic, emotional hurdle awaited him. In 2016, Jeff had a brain aneurysm and was rushed to hospital where he died. Suddenly, Ian found himself profoundly alone. With a major portion of their sales funnel being hit due to Jeff’s sudden demise, the loss of revenue and grief weighed heavily on his mind.

However, the good reputation of the firm brought Ian and the clients back. Operational improvements were made, the diversity of their leadership team was improved, and everybody just held their nerve.

He shares, “I have tried to really force myself to leave operations alone and focus on clients, growth, and strategy. I still am actively involved in finance as well though. Our business has fine margins, and I find that staying on top of costs, staying lean, means we can achieve the holy trinity of business – satisfying the clients, the employees, and the business owners.”

Ian also battled with the company’s growth, letting go and accepting that he couldn’t know everything and be engaged in every decision. “What was possible when we were 60 people and 8 clients is simply impossible when you are 1000 people on the path to 5000,” he explains. “You need to learn to be comfortable with delegation and trust in your people.”

However, through his thought leadership, their workforce grew to 1,000 by 2020, putting them on the annual Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing firms in the United States. And after only a few years, Enshored had been able to realize the vision that Ian Jackson and Jeff had shared when they first sipped on a pint of beer together.

Take off with Enshored

Straying away from any other traditional outsourcing companies, Enshored tries to do things differently with change coming from its DNA. Ian makes sure to exhibit the unique perspective seen from Enshored’s eyes and highlights why this point of view will bring better outcomes for their clients.

This is something that also defines Ian as an influential leader. In his good books, an influential leader makes sure to create the conditions so that people feel ownership and act accordingly. He guides, “Everyone works better when they feel confident in their capabilities and feel empowered to act – you need to encourage that and avoid trying to over-manage them.”

While Enshored continues to refine this idea as to its secret of client satisfaction, for the firm it’s all about digging into the data, challenging it, understanding it, and using it to help build the client success roadmap. Ian and his team are quite great at finding data-driven insights that lead to concrete actions they can take to improve the client’s business. “It seems to work well – we are proud to see that over 40% of new clients come directly from client referrals. You can’t beat happy clients.”

Guiding Others to The Light of Success

According to Ian Jackson, one of the most important traits of an entrepreneur is to have real strength of vision, willingness to believe in existence, and balancing that out with the humility to listen when one is wrong and the courage to act on it. He says, “The most important characteristic in entrepreneurship for me is Grit. So, get ready to show what you have. And don’t give your company away too cheaply!”

An Ocean of Opportunities

Ian is all about learning new things and working with startups challenging the status quo. For him, his entrepreneurial stint has been really enjoyable from Scotland to London, and then to the US. For the forthcoming days, he wishes Enshored nothing but continuous growth.

He perceives the environment and the opportunities for outsourcing focused on high-growth entrepreneurial companies to be great. Hence, a vast ocean full of opportunities lies out there for Enshored to gain more share in the industry.

Personally, Ian seeks to build a deeper leadership team around him so that he can bring other opportunities for the business. He will also see it to further enhance his work on the social mission in the markets Enshored operates.

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