What I’ve Learnt: Lizzie Withington

May 31, 2018

Lizzie Withington starting working as a digital copywriter at a large Leeds agency before moving to the North East in 2006. Two years later, she was part of a team who founded learning technology business The Test Factory, which was acquired in 2014. Following the sale, Lizzie joined Michael Dunn and Ryan Davies to run Gospelware, which had a reputation for delivering innovative and forward-thinking mobile and web applications. But Gospelware shocked the local business community earlier this year when it was announced the company was being liquidated. Lizzie has since begun a new chapter with Michael Dunn by establishing RaisedBy, a company that looks to use technology to make a sustainable impact in organisations

There is a balance between an emotional and logical approach to business. Too much emotion and you can lose perspective, too much logic and the processes can get in the way of your sense of judgement, gut feel and connection to the values of the business you are building.

The biggest mistake you can make is complacency. I get a real buzz from pushing myself out of my comfort zone and trying something new. I’ve used this mantra in my personal life and in my career – alongside my professional career working in technology I’ve studied yoga, trained as an NLP therapist, attended improvisation classes and have become a keen potter. I believe this keeps me open to new ideas at work, comfortable in the discomfort that even if I do fail, I’m learning and growing and am a more rounded person than if I hadn’t invested in the new skills.

Failure can be lonely but you must learn from it. Michael and I were left to shut Gospelware – this process took about a month and when the news first broke, it was a shameful and embarrassing time. But it also turned into a gift. We were forced to take the time to reflect on what had happened, the lessons we’d learned and really consider what was the right next path for us. It is a testament to the business community, especially the tech community in the North East, how quickly we were able start up our new business. We had so many messages of support for our new venture, offers of encouragement, a coffee and advice, with many people stepping forward to ask how they can help. It was this sense of community that gave us the belief we had more to achieve and a refreshed sense of purpose.

Fight through the fear and self-doubt. A sense of greater meaning and purpose is what keeps me interested in business. Technology is an enabler, and I’m proud to have been a driving force in transformation, growth and change in many organisations, communities and businesses. However, the gap between those who have an understanding of how to access and implement technology-led change, and those who know they could benefit but don’t know where to start, is growing and the language is getting more exclusive. We set up RaisedBy to be the conduit for businesses who want to use technology to change and the tech community that can make that happen.

Be interested and interesting. This was told to me by Richard Lane. Prior to starting DurhamLane, following an extremely successful career in software sales, Richard worked as a consultant for The Test Factory and I was his first customer. Richard’s insight gave my incessant curiosity a sense of purpose and a framework of how to be consultative in my approach and build stronger relationships with customers.

Change starts with you. Tony Wright from PWA Unlimited told me this. He’s been instrumental in my success and development and is still someone whose advice and guidance in business is unrivalled. The essence of Tony’s advice is that you should take responsibility for yourself, look inward, think about what choices you have, that’s where the lesson is and that’s where change and growth happens.


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