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Revive Your Business: Proven Secrets to Transform Underperformers | Stephen Whyte

Today’s Guest Stephen Whyte

With over 20 years in the game, Stephen is a seasoned investor and turnaround maestro in the B2B software sphere. After a victorious exit from QADEX in 2023, he is now at the helm of NED Holdings, steering underperforming businesses towards profitable shores. Always on the prowl for new investment adventures, Stephen is the guiding force behind a burgeoning portfolio of tech successes.

Join host Matt Edmundson as he talks with Stephen Whyte, an investor and business turnaround expert, on this week's episode of "Push To Be More." Stephen shares his experiences and insights on steering underperforming businesses towards profitability, the importance of effective leadership, and personal anecdotes that highlight his entrepreneurial journey.

Key Discussion Points:

  1. Introduction to Stephen Whyte:
    • Background: Explore Stephen's journey in the B2B software sector and his recent shift from QADEX to NED Holdings.
    • Business Transformation: Insight into his effective strategies for revitalizing struggling businesses.
  2. The Inspiration Behind Leadership:
    • Past Experiences: Understand how Stephen’s previous roles shaped his leadership style.
    • Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC): Discussion on the crucial role of GRC in maintaining the integrity and profitability of businesses.
  3. Strategic Moves and Business Philosophy:
    • QADEX Exit and NED Holdings Leadership: Stephen explains his strategic departure from QADEX and his new leadership dynamics at NED Holdings.
    • Project Make Stephen Redundant: A unique initiative aimed at empowering teams and fostering business growth through autonomy.
  4. Personal Reflections and Future Aspirations:
    • Work-Life Balance: Insights into managing personal life and career, including the transition to becoming an "empty nester."
    • Future Plans: Stephen shares his aspirations for the future and the strategic direction of NED Holdings after moving back to Ireland.
  5. Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs:
    • Entrepreneurial Challenges: Addressing common hurdles like imposter syndrome and the importance of perseverance in entrepreneurship.

Stephen Whyte leaves us with profound lessons on leadership and the transformative power of effective governance and strategic foresight in business. Don’t miss this enlightening conversation, full of actionable insights for anyone looking to enhance their leadership skills or steer a business towards success.


Listen to this week’s episode of "Push To Be More" to gain from Stephen Whyte's invaluable experiences and forward-thinking business strategies!

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Matt Edmundson: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Push To Be More. I'm your host, Matt Edmundson, and we are about to dive into another deep exploration of what fuels the journey called life. Yes, we are. And dear listener, forgive my nasal tones. I'm recovering from man flu. Not so serious that I needed to call the paramedics, but close but we're coming out the other side.

Now, joining me today, I have an exciting guest, Stephen Whyte from NED Holdings, and we'll be delving into his unique experiences, the hurdles he's had to push through, the way he recharges his batteries, and what more looks like. Now, don't forget, all of the show notes and transcripts of our conversation are going to be on the website.

See you there. www. pushtobemore. com. And whilst you're there, if you haven't done [00:01:00] so already, sign up for the newsletter because each week we will zip all of the shows, insights, links and goodies directly to your inbox, absolutely for free. Which is groovy, just like this music. Oh yes, love the music playing in the background here.

Now this episode is proudly powered by Aurion Media, the magic behind the scenes that lets entrepreneurs and business leaders like you and me amplify our voices by hosting our own unique podcast. Why on earth would you want to start your own podcast? That is a great question. Now let me tell you, my podcast journey itself has been amazing, fantastic, and brilliant.

It's not just about the audience, it's about the people you connect with, the guests like Stephen who we've got coming on the show. It's given me a great platform to celebrate my customers, my team, my suppliers. And created a ripple of impact way beyond what I could have imagined, trust me. But I get it, the tech stuff can feel daunting, [00:02:00] setup, distribution, I don't mean the whole strategy thing, there's a whole bunch of things that might not make any kind of sense to you.

And who on earth wants to get tangled up in production? That's where Aurion Media steps in, they are the backstage crew that makes sure your show goes on flawlessly. You get to do what you love. Let's just chat into amazing people and Aurion Media gets to take care of all the nitty gritty for you.

So if you've been wondering whether podcasting is the missing puzzle in your marketing strategy, it's time to have a chat with Aurion Media. Check them out at aurionmedia. com. That's A U R I O N media. com. That is the amazing Aurion Media. Now with over 20 years in the game, Stephen is a seasoned investor and turnaround maestro in the B2B software sphere.

After a victorious exit from QADEX in 2023, he is now at the helm of NED Holdings steering underperforming [00:03:00] businesses towards profitable shores. Oh yes. Always on the prowl for new investment adventures, Stephen is the guiding force behind a burgeoning portfolio of tech success. That's an impressive bio there, Stephen.

Welcome to the show. Great to have you, man. How are you doing?

Stephen Whyte: Thank you very much, Matt. It sounds so impressive. I don't believe it, but it's not quite as good as you've made it sound.

Matt Edmundson: We never live up to the hype, do we, in our own bios? It's quite funny. It's good to have a go. Now, before we get into the conversation, it's fair to say that you were introduced to the show by David Johnston, who has also been a guest on the show.

previous guest. How do you know David?

Stephen Whyte: Oh, David and I have intersected in the GRC space, governance, risk and compliance space here in the UK over the past two or three years, or probably no, probably past five or six years. And David is a [00:04:00] real taught leader in what's happening in GRC, which for most people is quite a boring space because it's in the background.

It's Businesses, whether it be service businesses or software businesses that are helping make the world a safer place. And we only realize that the world is a safe place when stuff happens that we realize it's not a safe place. So keeping air airlines in the sky, keeping planes landing without crashing.

There's a lot of GRC in the background that no one even knows is happening.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah, it's one of those things, isn't it, where David was a great guest, by the way, and if you haven't heard the episode, do check it out dear listener but it's one of those things, like you say, where I'm very grateful for stuff that I don't know about, all this sort of stuff that happens in the background that we just take for granted now, like a plane, we just assume the plane's going to land when we get on it.

And there's a lot of people in the background making sure that actually happens, which I'm, and if that's you, I'm very grateful. No [00:05:00] doubt. Stephen, let's jump into this. First question we like to ask guests. Although technically, I appreciate this is the second question we're asking you if we're going to get pedantic, which my son is, if he's listening we love to ask guests if you had your own podcast, cause this show is sponsored by Aurion Media.

We're big fans of podcasting to, use podcasting to grow your own business. If you did have your own podcasting, you could interview anybody on your show, past or present, that's had a big influence on your life. Who would you interview and why?

Stephen Whyte: Probably a bit cheesy, you've probably heard this before, but I'd interview my dad.

My dad passed six years ago. I'm now a dad myself to an 18 year old and probably my biggest success I think to date has been my son and seeing him grow and evolve and being a parent. Is the one thing you don't get a second chance at. There's no training course, there's no manual, there's no [00:06:00] operator's manual for becoming a dad.

So we all muddle along through it and the mistakes you make can compound quite quickly. Whereas the stuff you don't see the return for many years. So yeah, I'd go back and interview my dad because We all are turning into our parents. So what my wife will frequently remind me of my bad traits that I have picked up from my mom, for example, without the positive traits, et cetera but yeah, I think understand my dad more and his decisions and his life journey, because his life journey became the formative years of my.

Personal journey.

And I'm a big believer in both nature and nurture. I think as human beings, our nature [00:07:00] gives us possibly a leg up in life, but the environment that we are born into and how we're nurtured in that environment also has a massive impact. So I'm certain that my dad has had a huge formative influence on me, so a conversation with him would help me understand myself better.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah, that's really interesting, isn't it, that you talk about that, and I think, Were you close to your dad? Were you and your dad mates? Was that a good relationship?

Stephen Whyte: Yeah, we were always very close. We were always good friends. But when I suppose I'm coming towards the end of my parenting journey with my son being 18.

And as I frequently remind him, he'll be leaving next year. And we'll be pushing him out to fly on his own. And we will not be boomerang parents. Fingers [00:08:00] crossed. When I was young, my dad was very busy making ends meet on a very small Irish farm.

Matt Edmundson: And

Stephen Whyte: it was a very tough environment. He was building a farm from nothing where farming was not his actual vocation.

He was reluctant farmer. He didn't, if he had his time over again, he would not have been a farmer. He would have been a medic or a legal professional. That was his real calling, but he had to farm because that's why the way Irish economy worked back then. So when he, when I was young, he was very busy. So that juggling of work life balance, we're all dealing with it today.

My dad was dealing with it as well.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah. Yeah. It's some, it's not a new thing, is it? The work life balance is something that we've always had to juggle with, I think. It's interesting. Your son is now 18. And you'll come into that sort of phase of life, which we call the [00:09:00] empty nester phase, isn't it?

So two of my boys I have three kids, two boys and a daughter. So my two boys have. They're both over 18. They're both at uni. They both left home. And it's just a really interesting phase of life now, for me and my wife, where a daughter in a few years time, she'll be moving away from home.

And you're starting to think of life, I think, in a, in quite a different way all of a sudden, and I have you thought about that? The empty nester thing? How's that sort of impacted you guys?

Stephen Whyte: Yes gearing up for it, gearing up for it. We've been very fortunate in our personal circumstance that the exit.

From the quad X business in eight, nine months ago has been a catalyst for a complete new chapter. So we're actually relocating our family next year from the UK to Ireland. So after circa 30 years in the UK, I would be relocating back home, technically back to where I was born. So it, we're [00:10:00] having to rediscover one another.

Be, and I know a lot of relationships can struggle in that transition because you've spent the last 18 years or whatever length of time as parents on a joint enterprise, trying to raise kids, trying to make ends meet, trying to get your own personal space and work life balance, and suddenly you're you.

Your face with empty nesting and it catches up on you a lot quicker than you realize. So far, so good. I'm really looking forward to it.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah, no, absolutely. And it's awesome that you guys are moving back to Ireland. Is that something you've wanted to do for a while?

Stephen Whyte: It's well, I relocated to the UK in 1994 and it was for one year.

So I said to my family, I'm going to the UK for a year, a career opportunity was presented to me with the company I was working for to move to the UK, to work on an acquisition and an integration of a [00:11:00] business within the corporate that I was working for at the time. So I said, yeah, I'll give it a year.

29 years ago

Matt Edmundson: that's really funny. When I moved to Liverpool, I was like, I'm just going up for university which in my head was three years. And there I am 31 years later, I still live in the city which is, I think in the UK is probably as close to Ireland as I can get whilst being in the UK.

Stephen Whyte: That's right, that's very much I spent a lot of time in Liverpool, beautiful city.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah absolutely. New chapter awaits, what you had this company QADEX if I'm pronouncing that right, Stephen. What was that and why did you feel like it was time to exit?

Stephen Whyte: So QADEX was a business that I founded in 2007 as a software platform to manage risk within the food supply chain.

And I had worked in food manufacturing for the previous nine, 10 years of my career as a corporate, as an accountant, I was a qualified accountant, but I always, I suppose from my upbringing for my farming upbringing, I always had this [00:12:00] itch to run my own business or be involved as a shareholder in my own business.

So I set up the quad X business in 2007. I did not have a clue what I was doing. I just thought there would be an opportunity. This was if you think this was the start of SAS in 2007 software as a service was only really a merging as an opportunity. So there were so many spheres of business and industry that were manual, that were still manual, that were open to be digitized.

So I could see the opportunity to digitize risk management of the food supply chain. So I said, I'll do that. I'll set up a software business, having no idea how software is going to work. Designed or built or deployed, et cetera. I just gave it a go. And it's, so I started in that journey in 2007. I was very lucky in so much as the business didn't fail.

It, it stumbled from small [00:13:00] success to small success and just got slightly bigger each time. We bootstrapped the business. So I never had external shareholders. It was myself. I was a single loan founder, bootstrapped the business. And it just. Didn't fail. We got product market fit. We got some customers.

We kept reinvesting in the platform. And I suppose 15 years later, it was an overnight success.

Matt Edmundson: I love that. I've heard that before. It's such a great phrase, isn't it? Yeah. Absolutely.

Stephen Whyte: Yeah. No, no one remembers. No one remembers the 14 years of blood, sweat and tears.

Matt Edmundson: No. And especially for you as the founder, I was talking to my wife about this that, we often will read autobiographies, and you read people's story and in those books, they tell you all the good things that happened.

Do you know what I mean? This happened and that was amazing and all this sort of stuff. What you don't read in any book and what they never tell you is. Between that story and that [00:14:00] story was eight months of sheer boredom because they were working so hard to try and get from that part to that part. But it's not, and it's just not an interesting story, is it?

So we never hear that. We often hear the sort of the crest of the wave in a lot of ways. And it's funny. Yeah. 15 years to being an overnight success. And it's so true.

So the business then you exited what are you doing now?

Stephen Whyte: I suppose it's that my current career started in 2019. So the QADEX business had got to a scale where I was really fortunate to have a very good management team who were running that business day to day. And truth be told, they told me I was getting in their way.

Matt Edmundson: I've heard that so many times from my management

Stephen Whyte: team, yeah. And the individuals, the team were better at everything than I was. So there was not a job in the business in 2019 that couldn't be done better by someone else [00:15:00] in the business. So we, the team started saying, and I started to realize I was getting in their way in getting in the way of their personal development.

So one of my team who shall, a lady called Gemma came up with the concept of project mixed, even redundant. And she very passionately took the lead on the project, Make Stephen Redundant in 2018. Okay. Well done

Matt Edmundson: Gemma. Yep.

Stephen Whyte: And I leaned into that as well. I leaned into that project and basically we identified stuff that I was still doing in the business.

Delegated those tasks, those responsibilities to others, which was amazing to see how quickly other members of the team picked up those responsibilities I had and did it better than I had ever done it. That was incredibly rewarding to realize, actually, I was the limiting factor in the business.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah. [00:16:00]

Stephen Whyte: So as that project progressed, I started looking at what do I do?

Because I suppose I'm a bit like a shark. I'm not a shark, but I have to keep moving. If I stop moving, I would die. I have to keep doing. So I said, what are we good at? What do we do have? We have a lot of skills within our business and we're good at software development. And we had 40 odd engineers and testers in our software team.

So I said, okay, maybe we could acquire Other software businesses.

And help them become successful. And that, that started with our first small acquisition in 2019. And we've gone on and subsequently done seven acquisitions between 2019 and to date. And that has now become NED Holdings, which is a.

Basically a buy and build and invest platform around B2B software businesses.

Matt Edmundson: Okay. And is that any [00:17:00] B2B software business or are you sticking to a specific niche like the food industry?

Stephen Whyte: No, any B2B software because B2B software is quite a niche in its own right. So we will not look at business consumer software because I am the most unfashionable guy in the world.

Miss fashion trends and always wear the wrong clothes and always unfashionable. So I'm going to, we steer clear of business to consumer, but business to business, I suppose the business. Sales cycle and how to sell to businesses and how to support businesses and how to make money from selling and supporting to businesses, whether it be software as a recurring revenue or professional services aligned to software, I get and I understand.

So that, that's why we focus. So we have businesses that are communications businesses. That are testing GRC businesses that are medical technology businesses. So anything B2B, we will look at as long as we can see a thesis for how we [00:18:00] can help that business be a better version of itself.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah. Yeah. No, fair enough.

That sounds great. And you, I just want to go back to Project Make Stephen Redundant, right? Because this is an interesting thing. When I was working, my, my one and only job where I wasn't my own business, I was working for a guy called Simon and Simon has been on the show, Simon O'Shaughnessy, one of my very first guests, still a very good friend of mine.

Love the man to bits. We catch up every month. He now lives in New Zealand and I'm stuck in Liverpool slightly jealous if I'm honest with you, Stephen. But Simon decided he was going to sell the business. So he wanted to not, he wanted to step away from it so the business could function without him.

And he went away. I think for four or five weeks. And this was, he told me this. So I took this literally. So by the time he came back five weeks later, he had no office. I'd taken away his office and all his toys. And in fact, I'd put myself in his office and I'd given him a little desk space right at the back of the, [00:19:00] right at the back of the building, away from everything and anyone.

So he just couldn't interfere. And whilst I did what he, I took literally what he said, he wasn't actually that happy because it just hit him all of a sudden. Actually, this is what it really means. So I'm curious when you did the Project Make Stephen Redundant? How did you feel about that?

Stephen Whyte: I felt great because as I realized, That each responsibility I had was being done better to a higher standard when it was delegated to a member of the team. It was the, that really made me realize that I was a limiting factor and I've always had this drive. For continual improvement, no matter how good something is, I want it to be better.

So it's a perennial and I suppose I have OCD tendencies as well, but it was [00:20:00] this realization that whether it be sales or finance or marketing, other members of the team were better at it. Than I was. Yeah. That then it was crazy for me to keep doing stuff. And if anything, if I had delegated stuff earlier, we would've achieved more as a business.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah. Yeah. That's very true. And I think for a lot of people, a lot of business leaders, that idea that someone in the business can do it better than. We can mentally go, that sounds great, but actually emotionally, I think it can make entrepreneurs and leaders feel a little bit insecure. Do you know what I mean?


Stephen Whyte: but we have insecurities. One of my challenges, and I know we might talk about challenges later, is insecurity. And imposter syndrome. I struggle big time with imposter syndrome

Matt Edmundson: and

Stephen Whyte: insecurities. And I don't think that ever goes away. I'm personally, I'm quite fortunate now. I've got some friends who are [00:21:00] very successful heading towards billionaire type territory.

When you sit with these individuals and you have open conversations and we have the same insecurities and imposter syndrome and fear, I think the drive that you innately have to build and create businesses doesn't go away when those businesses become successful. That internal fear and insecurity is always there.

Matt Edmundson: That's fair enough. You mentioned it challenges. So you've obviously had. An interesting journey quite a fun journey by the sound of it, and it sounds like you've got a great team behind you, but I'm assuming it's not all plain sailing. You talked about imposter syndrome. Was that, has that been your biggest challenge or is there, are there other things that you've had to deal with that were bigger?

Stephen Whyte: I think for me, insecurity. And Imposter Syndrome are the two biggest challenges because they're the challenges I have not been able to overcome. So the [00:22:00] building a business and anyone who's on here who has built and exited a business or is currently on their journey of building their business will know that you're being hit with challenges every day, every week, every month.

And just the magnitude of those challenges change, but you're constantly being hit with challenges. And. The successful business leader overcomes those challenges and there's too many, the mistakes the other challenges, learning from mistakes and not getting hung up on your mistakes because the mistakes I've made so many mistakes and some of them very bad.

Big mistakes. I'm able to move on from that,

Matt Edmundson: but

Stephen Whyte: the challenges I've not personally been able to overcome is imposter syndrome and insecurity. I know I am successful as a business person. I've achieved quite a bit with my business career. Technically, if I wanted to, I don't, I never need to work another [00:23:00] day in my life, but I'm still full of insecurities.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting.

Stephen Whyte: And where do you think they came from, Stephen? I don't know, coming back on your point earlier maybe the conversation with my dad would have helped under uncover the insecurities, but I suspect from speaking to other entrepreneurs that I know, and I'm friendly with, they're, they have their insecurities as well.

Matt Edmundson: And

Stephen Whyte: I suspect there is a. thesis somewhere in some university that needs to go away and research the insecurities of successful business people. And I would, I suspect a lot of them have insecurities. Because that's what I suppose that could be the well that this drive comes from, because why would someone give up a very well paying corporate career, which I did?

I was a board level person in a large food group in my [00:24:00] twenties. I was sorted from a career point of view. Why did I give up all of that and take the risk on an entrepreneurial journey? I don't know. I really don't know. And it's beyond me because I'm not an academic, but I suspect a lot of successful people have these insecurities underneath.

They may not say it. They may not say it. I think one of the things I think the pandemic has been really Beneficial in is it's helped us to be more open. I think blocks in particular, don't share their internal fears and insecurities. They put up a front, everything's good here. Nothing to see.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting that, it's a shocking statistic, but I think it's young men in their early twenties who are more prone to suicide than any other group of people. And a lot of it comes down to men not having the ability to talk and deal with, what is going on emotionally and internally.

And I, and it's sad and it's shocking and it's true. And [00:25:00] I think one of the things success does, and maybe part of the reason why entrepreneurs Successes, entrepreneurs, when they're successful, it masks their insecurities because it's, you can point to that and go, this has worked well. I'm actually maybe people will think I'm okay because I've proven that I can be successful here.

And the other thing that I've noticed with entrepreneurs, and that again, not true for everybody, I'm definitely not a psychologist, but one of the things that I've noticed is that we work very hard and to be successful because maybe that's the only thing in life that is giving us validation for ourselves.

Especially, sad, but a lot of people might have an unhappy relationship, and they're not getting that. Sense of contentment and validation from that relationship. So they turn to their business and pour all their effort in their business because that's something that they can control in a lot of ways.

And when it's successful it validates us. But at the heart of that lies this insecurity aspect that you talk about, Stephen, doesn't it?

Stephen Whyte: Correct. I personally, I [00:26:00] also think if the entrepreneur can balance their family life and bring the, I suppose the resilience. and the effort that they make with their business

Matt Edmundson: and

Stephen Whyte: bring some of that home with them at the weekend and to their family and invest energy in their family the same way they've invested energy in the business they can actually address some of the challenges in their personal life because I have yet to meet someone amongst my friendship group who will say that their relationship with their life partner has been completely perfect from day one.

I think business is a series of peaks and troughs.

Matt Edmundson: I think

Stephen Whyte: relationships, whether it be with your partner or your children, is a series of peaks and troughs. And if you can invest your time In trying to make your personal life successful [00:27:00] in the same way as you do with your business, you can probably juggle both.

I feel, I personally feel blessed. I've only got one, one kid my son, who I mentioned earlier, I am in complete awe of Families who have three, four children. I couldn't have co opted three or four children. I was just about able to invest the time in one child to ensure I was present when I needed to be present to ensure we've got to a point where he is probably my best friend.

And probably if you'd asked me for a second person who I would like to interview on my podcast, after my dad had probably. probably be my son because I'm very proud of the young man he has become.

Matt Edmundson: That's amazing. That's amazing. And you said at the start, actually the biggest success has been your son. And it sounds listening to you, Stephen, that's been very intentional.

It wasn't by accident.

Stephen Whyte: No, I wouldn't say so. No. This might get me into a lot of [00:28:00] trouble, but I was an awful, I was an awful parent for the first 18 months.

In the first 18 months, I pretty much. Steered as clear as I could from being a hands on parent, changing nappies and getting up in the middle of the night.

I very much delegated that responsibility. And I've, I suppose I like to delegate, but that's something that most dads now don't delegate the lean in. I didn't lean in on, I would say it was only when my son probably turned four or five. And he started getting interested in sports and doing physical stuff that I started to lean in and build a relationship with him.

Matt Edmundson: And

Stephen Whyte: because there was only one kid, because my siblings all have larger families. So they're juggling work, life and family. And a bigger family. And that's a huge, you're spreading yourself very thinly. Because I only had one son. I was able to get to pretty much all sports days, get to [00:29:00] key milestone events in his life that I probably wouldn't have been able to do if I'd had four children.


Matt Edmundson: It's interesting, isn't it? I've got three and I would, like you, I would say that I have a great relationship with all of my kids. They're all amazing. And I'm super proud of every single one of them. I think they've become very good human beings and I think they'll contribute a lot to the world.

And as a dad, you when they fly the nest and they go Turn from a kid to being a man or from a girl to being a woman, you are you are both proud of them and you look at it and go, I'm super thankful I was part of that journey. And you just nothing but grateful in a lot of ways, aren't you?

And you get to play a role in that, which was lovely. And you get them to see them play their part. But I think from my point of view raising three kids and I've been married 25 years, I am still in love with my wife as I was on day one. She is, if not more, she's an absolute legend.

That, like you say, if you. [00:30:00] That's not a, that just doesn't happen. You have to invest in, in that family aspect of it. And I'm super glad that I did. And it's interesting. You talk about the peaks and troughs in relationships, with your kids, with your wife in business, I find now that it's very easy to bail when things start to get difficult when you start to get into the trough.

So, And I have theories as to why this is, Stephen, but it's interesting, isn't it, that if things become difficult, if things become complex, it's a lot easier to bail now and go, I'm out. Were you ever tempted in business in life when things were difficult just to go, I'm out.

I need to escape this, or was it always a case of, no, I'm in this, I've got to make this work?

Stephen Whyte: No, the temptations to give up on the business were there multiple times and in our relationship over the years, there were very low moments as well. And we had open conversations about it, but I suppose, again, I was quite lucky in that I realized [00:31:00] that.

I'm a difficult person to live with. So therefore I recognize I was very lucky that I had a wife who was prepared to live with me and come with me on the journey. So no, I suppose you get to a point and I got to get you. You don't get complacent, but you get to a point where you're actually very comfortable.

So I really couldn't be bothered now because I like you, Matt. I actually love my wife. I can see myself. Yeah. We're. I would be knowing another 29 years this year.

Matt Edmundson: Oh, congrats,

Stephen Whyte: man. I'm going to get myself into trouble now. I'm not exactly sure how many years we're married. I wasn't proud for it. We're 20 plus years married.

I know we celebrated 20 years in the past two or three years. We're 20 plus years married. I think it's 21st of April is her anniversary. I'm shit with stuff like that, but I suppose what I will, what I'm very comfortable saying [00:32:00] is I'm very looking forward to the next 20 years with my wife. And I think that'll probably steam me out because if she puts up with me for another 20 years, that's going to take me into my early seventies.

If I survive till then it'll be a good innings anyway.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah, absolutely. No, I'm, I totally agree. Totally agree. Congratulations. It's great. It's lovely to hear, and super, super awesome. So all this stuff is going on, obviously you're working hard in business. Stephen, one of the things we love to ask guests is how you, how do you recharge your batteries personally?

How do you, um, how do you do that? Because it sounds like there's a lot going on. Do you do anything intentional or is it? Is it just happenstance?

Stephen Whyte: Walking. I do a lot of walking with the dog. Okay. And some of my best thinking is when I'm out walking, put headphones on, listen to some good music, listen to some podcasts or audible books, et cetera.

So walking is fantastic from a recharging point of view. [00:33:00] But as I mentioned earlier, I'm a bit of a shark. I have to keep moving the whole time. I can say this now. Having exited Quad Exit earlier this year, I've actually gone back to my childhood love of driving tractors.

Matt Edmundson: Okay,

Stephen Whyte: so some people sell their businesses and buy a Ferrari or buy a field in the me somewhere. You bought

Matt Edmundson: a tractor. ,

Stephen Whyte: I bought a tractor and I go Tractoring. So

Matt Edmundson: fantastic.

Stephen Whyte: And. Because one of the challenges with what we do now, which is buying businesses and turning them around is you can go months and months and months with nothing happening.

So tractoring allows me to just be doing stuff yet be patient and wait for the right deal to come along because it's very easy to swing at every deal that comes at you. The real skill is only to swing at the ones where you know you can make a difference and you know you can drive real value.

Matt Edmundson: [00:34:00] Yeah, absolutely.

I love that. Tractoring. I used to when I was younger, Stephen, when I was about 18, I volunteered to work at a children's home in the States, North Carolina. And I did this as a gap year between, a sixth form in university. And part of my job at the children's home was to spend two days a week riding a John Deere tractor mowing.

Hundreds of acres of grass for this children's, land was abundant, let me tell you. And I would spend hours on this giant, became very acquainted with the John Deere tractor. And this was back in the days when we didn't have MP3 players, we had cassettes in Walkman. Do you remember them, right?

Yeah. And you were lucky to get 90 minutes on a tape and you could flip it over. And in fact, my Walkman was so advanced, you didn't have to take it out to flip it over. You push the button. Or the reverse. Or the reverse. I

Stephen Whyte: remember it.

Matt Edmundson: Amazing life changing technology. And so I'm sitting here listening to you talk about riding a tractor and I'm thinking, you know what?[00:35:00]

That's taken me back because they were some of the best days. You just, you knew you would spend two days just listening to music, thinking, just riding up and down in the North Carolina sunshine, just up and down those fields without any agenda. And it was stunningly amazing. And I just need to find someone with a field that I can ride a tractor up and down, right?

Stephen Whyte: Or find someone, Matt, reach out, I'll get you tractoring opportunities in Ireland anytime you want. Fantastic. Every summer, the farming contractors over there are crying out for able bodied people who can drive tractors.

Matt Edmundson: I'm seeing a new business opportunity here, Stephen. It's just I'm going to take burnout executives, and I'm going to send them to your farm for three weeks just to drive a tractor.

Yeah. And it'd be amazing.

Stephen Whyte: It'll be a chargeable experience. Actually, Matt, we've got a business opportunity there. If we use your podcast, we can set up a business whereby we do Tractoring Experiences.

Matt Edmundson: I'm loving that. I'm going to check the domain [00:36:00] name, Tractoring Experiences,

tractoryourwaytobetterleadership. com. You know that, I'm loving that. That's fantastic. I definitely get the Tractoring. But you like walking. Is there a specific place you like to walk? Have you got a, do you like to get up out in the hills?

Stephen Whyte: Yeah, we're very lucky here where we live in rural Leicestershire.

We're in a small village in England and the, we're near the River Soar and we have a place called Cossington Meadows, which is a nature reserve of several, probably a couple of hundred acres. So we can, I generally can walk six, seven, eight kilometers most mornings with the dog, weather permitting in the open countryside.

Matt Edmundson: Fantastic. So

Stephen Whyte: It's lovely. It's re it really does recharge the batteries. Particularly in the summer when I go out early at five o'clock in the morning.

Matt Edmundson: Oh, geez, yeah. See, that's one of the things I miss living in Liverpool. Liverpool is a great place, but it is a city. And so the countryside is a drive.

You can't just, you've got to be [00:37:00] intentional. What does growth look like? What does more look like for you? Where's the future heading?

Stephen Whyte: Growth is continuing to be free which I am, and pursue whatever projects I want to pursue. But as I suppose growth, I suppose commercially is finding more software businesses.

We can help turn around, we can help bring them to a better place. There are some, we all know the very successful software businesses, but there's a lot of software businesses and software founders who are just about surviving. They're not enjoying their business, they're not making good money running their businesses, et cetera.

We're able to work with those teams and

transition doors for businesses to be successful, growing profitable businesses. So it's my, it's finding more of those opportunities and then developing the team because I'm very fortunate again to have some, a really good leadership team [00:38:00] around me. I've got a fantastic Chief Operating Officer, Chief Technical Officer, Chief Financial Officer, helping them develop and grow and helping their teams develop and grow.

As was one of my I suppose mos are, is do as little as possible. Delegate. Delegate. Yeah, delegate. I do as little as possible so I can be off walking the dog or thinking about stuff or Tractoring, et cetera, and let the team deliver stuff because again, they're better at it than me because I fit all over the place.

So yeah, growth is, find more businesses, more opportunities where we can turn businesses around, but we're not in any rush.

We're not in any rush. We will wait till the right opportunity presents itself.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah, fair enough. What sort of businesses do you work well with? If anyone's listening, what's the sort of criteria I suppose that you're thinking about when you're looking for companies?

Stephen Whyte: So generally now we're looking at businesses that have a minimum of 1 million pounds recurring revenue, smaller than that, and they're just too small. They will have a team of people [00:39:00] already in the business, running the business or actively involved day to day. So we can basically enable that team. to deliver what they want to deliver in that business, give them the tools, give them the resources.

So typically when we acquire a business or invest in the business, we meet with each of the individuals, every person in the business currently, and ask them two key questions. What's the business doing really well that we need to preserve? And what could the business do better? And those two questions, gives us the roadmap for what we need to do with that business going forward.

Because what we have found in our past three or four acquisitions is the existing team in the business knows what needs to be fixed in that business. Yeah. What that business needs to do to get to a better place. So all we do is identify that. Agree those with the team and then give them the tools, give them the resources and give them the time to do that and then get out of their way and be patient.

[00:40:00] So it will generally take at least one year for a business to be stabilized, then another year or two for it to start on a growth path, and then five to 10 years down the road, you will have created a fantastic business, but you have to be patient. Whereas private equity and venture capitalists. are working on much shorter

Matt Edmundson: timeframes.


Stephen Whyte: can, we work on a much longer timeframe.

Matt Edmundson: Very good. Very good. Stephen, listen I'm aware of time. So we're going to do the question box. I need to get music. I still need to get music. The question box. Oh yes. Here we go. So I'm going to take a stack of questions. I'm going to flick through them wherever you tell me to stop.

That's where we're going to stop. And that's the question I'm going to ask you.

Stephen Whyte: What if I don't tell you to stop?

Matt Edmundson: I'm just going to tell you to ask the last question.

Stephen Whyte: Stop.

Matt Edmundson: Which is ironically the last question. Okay, you've answered this one a little bit. If you had to choose between a happy home life and a mediocre career or a [00:41:00] successful career and a mediocre home life, which would you choose?

Stephen Whyte: Happy home life.

Matt Edmundson: Every day.

Stephen Whyte: Every day.

Matt Edmundson: Now I'm with you. It's an easy question. It turns out the last one was a good one. I'm just going to write your name on it. So I know that you've answered that question cause if it comes up again, it'll be interesting to hear. And I wonder if people would say happy home because they feel that's the answer they should give.

It's an interesting one, isn't

Stephen Whyte: it? There is an element to that, but also it's very easy when you're sitting in the seat I'm sitting with. I'm very comfortable with what I've achieved in my career. It's very easy now to just say a happy home life. But if you're at the start of your career and you're struggling to make ends meet.

That's a much, much more nuanced question.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah, it is. It really is. It's a fascinating one, isn't it? Really, Stephen, listen, I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, love the conversation about tractors, love the conversation about family. And just really enjoyed your [00:42:00] enthusiasm and your humor and your joy for life.

It's been an absolute treat having you on. If people want to reach out to you, if they want to connect with you, what's the best way to do that?

Stephen Whyte: I avoid all social media except LinkedIn.

Matt Edmundson: It's probably why you're quite happy in life. It's another successful thing is to avoid social media.

Stephen Whyte: I am on LinkedIn at the moment.

Who knows, I might come off LinkedIn at some point, but for the foreseeable future, I'm on LinkedIn. You'll find me there.

Matt Edmundson: Fantastic. Look for Stephen Whyte, NED Holdings on LinkedIn. We will, of course, link to Stephen's info in the show notes, which you can get along for free. And of course, if you sign up to the newsletter, it'll be coming straight to your inbox, so just click the link.

Connect with Stephen and say, how's it, why would you not want to? Stephen, thanks, man really appreciate it. Genuinely love that conversation and super inspiring and wish you all the best with with the next few years, sir.

Stephen Whyte: You're welcome. Thank you.

Matt Edmundson: That's a wrap on another [00:43:00] invigorating conversation.

A huge round of applause to Stephen. I need to do this, don't I? Hang on a second, let me get my desk. A huge round of applause. Oh yes, for Stephen for joining us today. Okay, that's enough applause. Shedding light. On his inspiring journey and it was super inspiring, wasn't it? And I hope you got a lot outta that now.

Huge. Thanks again to today's show. Sponsor Aurion Media, for all you change makers out there contemplating podcast or podcasting, should I say, as a new vehicle of expression and connection. Definitely connect with them at And don't forget, keep pushing to be more. Don't forget to follow the show wherever you get your podcast from because we've got some more.

Seriously compelling conversations up our sleeve. And in case no one's told you yet today, let me be the first. You are awesome. Yes, you are. Credit awesome. It's just a burden. You have to bear. Stephen has to bear it. I've got to bear it. You [00:44:00] definitely have to bear it as well. Now, Push To Be More is brought to you live by Aurion Media.

For transcripts and show notes, as I said, swing on by the website, pushtobemore. com. Big kudos to the team that makes this show possible. Sadaf Beynon and Tanya Hutsuliak. Also shout out to Josh Edmundson for the amazing and wonderful theme music. So from Stephen and from me, Thank you so much for joining us.

Have a fantastic week. Wherever you are, I'll catch you on the flip side. Until then, keep pushing and bye for now. [00:45:00]