Pigeons inspire schoolboy to become entrepreneur…
When all his classmates were reading comics, 14-year-old Mark Lyford was reading the UK Rich List for inspiration. He was still at school when he had his first taste of business, buying and selling racing pigeons which he went on to build into an international brokerage. “I fell upon an incident where I had the opportunity to buy a bulk load of birds in one go,” said Mark, “and sure enough bought them and made a profit on those within a few weeks, and that let the light bulb go in my mind to say well, actually there’s money in this.” An entrepreneur was born!
It didn’t take many years before Mark learned that being an entrepreneur also had its downside. “During a bad storm, the barn where the birds were housed was blown down. I lost nearly 430 birds valued at over £38,000. It took me two years to pay everyone back and had my first big lesson in risk and reward.”
In his new book Rebel Entrepreneur, Mark tells his roller coaster story of highs and lows and takes an honest look at both the good decisions as well as the bad decisions he has made on the way. “I can sum up my career in five words. Pigeons, Porn, Paradise, Pot and Prison.
From living the high life in the Bahamas and managing 32,000 adult websites in 1999, to making and losing over four million dollars, trying to earn it back by opening a cannabis factory, and ending up in prison as a result, you could say that my career has been unconventional. I have always been a bit of a rebel and never one to stick to the rules.”
“Being a rebel is not just doing what you’ve been told to do, not following what convention is, not following what your teacher tells you to do, or your boss tells you to do or the government tell you to do, and for me, that’s what being a rebel is about, questioning everything. Why is something that way, why does it have to be that way? I’m not talking about breaking the law, I’m not talking about doing things that are going to end up with you in trouble, but I’m saying, I’ve always questioned, I’ve always questioned authority which of course has got me in trouble.”
“The inspiration for the book has been people saying to me, ‘Look, you’re in your late thirties now and you’ve lived a life most people can only dream of, and some people have nightmares about, you should write a book’. The biggest thing people are going to get out of the book are the lessons in what not to do. Some of the successes are great, but the failures teach people a lot more.”
“In the USA nobody batters an eyelid if you lose it all. How many times has Donald Trump gone bankrupt and lost everything? But it’s just the next sign that he’s going to come back. Over here when I went bankrupt in 2004, at the time I thought it was the ultimate failure but the reality is it’s not. I think being an entrepreneur in the UK within Europe is becoming different, it’s becoming more acceptable and I think some of the media has helped with shows like Dragons’ Den.”
“For a lot of people, there’s an envious nature to success for people that have made it, whereas in America and in other countries it’s applauded, it’s supported, you’ve done very well, well done, shake your hand and good luck to you, whereas over here it’s not quite the same.
But I hope it changes and I hope in the next ten years, certainly when my children have potential to have their own businesses, or whatever they end up doing, it’s going to be changed and different. There’s the idea of the American dream. I can see a British dream now, whereas you couldn’t see that ten, twenty years ago.”
Rebel Entrepreneur by Mark Lyford is published by Filament Publishing Ltd at £14.99 and is available online, in all good bookshops ISBN 978-1-908691-79-8 or on Kindle. www.filamentpublishing.com
Mark Lyford is available for interview. All media enquiries to Chris Day, Filament Publishing 07802 211587 / 020 8688 2598. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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