7 lessons I learned about growing a startup from Ben Francis, CEO of Gymshark.

7 lessons I learned about growing a startup from Ben Francis, CEO of Gymshark.


I'm a big fan of The High Performance Podcast.

I came across the podcast at the start of 2022 and it's quickly become a favourite of mine and part of my weekly rotation.

Each episode is packed full of nuggets, with entrepreneurs, coaches and professional sportsmen and women sharing their high-performance habits.

A little while back I listened to Episode 69 featuring Ben Francis, CEO and founder of Gymshark.

I knew very little about Ben before listening to this episode. I was interested in learning about his story from launching Gymshark at 19 and growing it into the first Direct to Consumer brand in the UK to achieve Unicorn status (£1billion+ valuation) without any funding.

Here are the 7 lessons I learned from Ben's experience of launching a startup and growing it into a billion-pound business.

Lesson 1: Short-term vs long term thinking

If you want to start a new business, you cannot subscribe to short-term thinking and making a quick buck.

Being passionate about the business you start will carry you through the challenging times and help you win in the long run.

Lesson 2: Consistency is key

Identify key milestones early on in the business and create a roadmap for getting there. As you progress on your business journey, develop a tangible list of improvements to make along the way.

"When you have something to aim for, all of the opportunities in daily life illuminate in front of you because of the list you’ve got and the direction you’ve set for yourself."

Ben Francis, CEO of Gymshark

Lesson 3: Grow from solid business foundations

Don't become too infatuated by the business brand and the front end of the business without appreciating the importance of the back end of the business - systems, processes and operations.

If you don't have a strong back end of the business, you can't have a strong front end either. Having solid business operations in place will help establish solid foundations for growth.

Lesson 4: Having a niche is a superpower

The internet enables people that have a niche interest to turn that into a career. Many of the greatest businesses were created around times of chaos. Now is a good time to double down and create specialist businesses around what you’re truly passionate about.

Find your 1000 true fans to make things happen for your business.

Lesson 5: Building a Team to increase productivity

One additional person added to the business can increase productivity massively. Start building your team as soon as possible in your startup.

Prioritising building a team to delegate responsibility to allows you to focus on your strengths as the leader of the business.

Lesson 6: Leaning into skillsets

To create a great team that's pulling in the right direction, place people in roles that lean into their skillset.

When the whole team is focusing on their strengths it negates individual weaknesses.

Lesson 7: Empathy and Humility are closely aligned

“Don't ask someone how they are and then don't wait for the answer. If you truly care about people and believe that there’s inherent value in every single individual then you realise that no matter how successful you are it makes no difference ultimately and that’s really important.”

Ben Francis, CEO of Gymshark

Final Thoughts

One of the key takeaways for me from this episode was Ben's willingness to evolve from a startup founder into a CEO and always looking for areas where he needs to improve in his own personal development in order to fulfill that role.

The constant drive to grow, develop and improve is an underlying theme in the episode and I highly recommend that you listen to the whole interview.