Simon Dodson is the CEO of w-a-e (We Are Entrepreneurs), an online platform that connects entrepreneurs around the globe. His story is intriguing, sprinkled with dash of randomness, a side of risk taking, and served with a hearty supply of passion.
Simon is a natural entrepreneur who has been working hard since a young age to make money for himself. Throughout his career he’s made several pivots with the ultimate goal of finding his true passion in life. After trying the gambit of various jobs and entrepreneurial endeavors, Simon has finally found his calling in life – being a global entrepreneur.
“If I’m honest, I didn’t like school”
The educational system isn’t designed for everyone, and Simon was one of those who it didn’t suit. Like most natural-born entrepreneurs, he found it difficult to concentrate in class because he wasn’t interested in the course material.
Simon always had an entrepreneurial spirit – from buying and selling penny sweets to mobile phones and game consoles (in the legendary Nokia 3210 days).
He would buy his products from kids at school and sell them in the newspaper. Although he hadn’t discovered his passion yet, he knew he loved the idea of making money for himself.
“I think it was the early days that got me so addicted to entrepreneurship.”
Fish & Chips: Tom & Simon’s Kitchen
After graduating from Beeston College in 2009, with a degree in Engineering, Simon decided to dive head first into the world of entrepreneurship. At the time, Simon was a plumber working on large building sites. He hated his job, hated the work environment, and was frustrated with the negativity of his coworkers and managers.
So, one night Simon met up with 4 of his friends at a local pub where they started discussing ideas. One ridiculous idea led to another which eventually led to ‘a mobile fish and chip van.’ 3 of his friends passed on the proposition but his best friend Tom was willing to take the risk – hence the name Tom & Simon’s Kitchen.
He didn’t have a clue how to cook fish and chips, had never driven a van, and had never worked in the catering industry. So Simon did what any rational entrepreneur would do in a similar situation; he quit work the next day, got a £5,000 loan and created Tom & Simon’s Kitchen.
“We made mistake after mistake, for 3 months. Then we finally cracked the food.”
3 months into Tom & Simon’s Kitchen, Simon’s £5,000 loan had run out, he had maxed out the £3,000 overdraft, had a loan payment due in the next few days and had no way of making the payment. In a last-ditch effort, Simon and Tom sat down and decided to leaflet drop for 3 days straight. They perfected their fish and chips recipe, marketed their product the old fashion way, and prayed for the best. That’s when something incredible happened – it worked.
The day before the monthly loan payment came due, the duo had earned enough money to make the payment – it was onward and upwards from there. The first 3 years were a fun but stressful time. They went on radio stations, were selling out in every location, and started hiring employees. They were awarded a 5 star rating for food hygiene and have since gone on to the National Fish and Chip finals.
They were making decent money but the problem was Simon wasn’t passionate about what they were doing. Although he had the money, he didn’t have the fulfillment he desired. So in 2012 he decided to sell, and go on a journey of self-discovery.
From Driving a Van to Selling Cars
Simon decided to give the world of entrepreneurship a break and took a job as a sales executive at Mercedes & Volkswagen. He was the top-selling sales executive based on a balanced score card out of 136 sales executives. Although the 9 to 5 wasn’t his thing, he actually loved it.
He respected the management style, loved working with people and had a passion for cars. The problem was the long hours. Although he earned good money he didn’t have the lifestyle he wanted. He knew sales executives worked long hours but the only reason he took the job in the first place was to help keep his head above water whilst working on the next venture!
w-a-e (We Are Entrepreneurs)
Simon’s current role is the founder and CEO of w-a-e, an online platform for entrepreneurs. w-a-e actually started as a blog with the intentions of connecting like-minded people. At first, Simon wanted to network with fellow entrepreneurs but that quickly turned into helping other entrepreneurs with their business – for free.
One thing led to another and before he knew it, Simon was working with entrepreneurs full-time. He needed to create some leverage so he designed a very basic entrepreneurial coaching program, which consisted of teaching website development, lead generation, branding, etc. That then led to partnerships with other coaches who wanted to create coaching programs as well, which eventually lead to internally developed social networks and events.
“It’s basically Facebook, but for entrepreneurs.”
They’ve just finished building their new social platform and got the approval for international expansion – now they’re ready to launch. Their mission is to uplift people around the world through personal development and positivity. The goal is to help people live a more successful, happy, and fulfilled life by showing them how to unlock their inner potential. At the time of writing, Simon has members in the US, UK, Malta, and Canada with goals to expand into other countries.
Advice For Other Entrepreneurs
When asked what advice he would give his younger self, Simon responded, “Start learning about things that interest you, things that will have a positive impact on your future. If you don’t like something, change it. What might seem like the end at the time, is really just the beginning of a better start.”
He implores other entrepreneurs to explore as much as possible and to never settle for average. If you choose, you can have a profitable business that you’re completely passionate about.
“It took me 4 years to learn enough about myself to figure out what direction I wanted to go in. Those were the most valuable 4 years of my life.”