What I've Learnt: Peter Watson, MD and Founder at Distract
Distract is Peter Watson's award-winning digital marketing agency, focusing on search, social, digital PR and web development.
Originally a dedicated social media agency when it was founded back in 2015, the brand has grown to cover a raft of services and now has 17 staff and looks after more than 70 clients.
A young entrepreneur, Peter founded his own agency with his business partner Bradley McKenny when both were still at university, and since then Peter has been invited to speak at the B2B Marketing Expo and the London Expo.
We sat down with him to learn about his experiences leading a growing organisation.
Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?
I decided to stop drinking at the start of this year, and to be honest, I don’t miss it at all. I feel more focused, less sluggish and I’m much more productive.
This means I can concentrate more on my business and my own personal development.
I’ve coupled this with reading every day. I’m a really big fan of business books, I find they keep my mind sharp and inspire new ideas that I can bring to Distract. If I don’t have time to read, I’ll listen to an audiobook at the gym. I’m always listening and learning.
What's been your luckiest break?
I don’t think luck exists. I’ve always been a big believer in putting in hard work, and that’s what gets you to where you want to be. I’ve always had my biggest breaks after hard work, not because I was in the “right place at the right time”.
Some people say it was luck that we landed one of our biggest clients after a chance conversation with a stranger in a London pub, but I believe it’s because I worked hard to get my business and my name out there.
What's your best failure?
A long time ago, I built a training tool for a large PLC, who then decided against it.
Sometimes no matter how hard you work you can’t always get the results you were after. Instead, I focused my time on my YouTube channel that was built on guides for people wanting to fit and work their car stereos.
I built a shop on the back of it, selling the products I reviewed in my YouTube videos, and it brought me enough money so that I could pay for university. It was also a platform to launch my other businesses.
What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?
The best investment I ever made was just taking the time to start my first business. It only made a £5 profit, but the lessons that I learned were priceless.
My next business funded the next until I found something that worked. From there I built Distract, and we’re now a multi-award winning agency with more than 70 clients.
How would you describe your work/life balance?
I don’t have a work/life balance because I truly love my work. I’ve never had a day in my life where I haven’t wanted to go to the office and start the day.
It’s great being able to work with such a talented team and have so much fun doing it. I see it as just having a life balance.
Which book would you recommend others to read and why?
An absolute must-read for everyone is ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson. It changed my whole viewpoint on business.
I’ve hit some huge personal development milestones recently after reading this book and it's put me on top of the world when it comes to my approach to business. If you feel you need to make a change in your life, no matter how small, read ‘The Slight Edge’.
What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
I’d tell myself to keep going. So often when I was younger, people would doubt me but I managed to push myself through it all and I came out on top. Ignoring the ‘haters’ was one of the best things I ever did. You don’t have to listen to everyone, just listen to the right people.
You’re on the right path, keep going!
Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?
My Dad - he raised me and my brother as a single parent when I was seven, and watching his never-stop attitude has helped me become the person I am today.
The main lesson I took on board was never to quit and never to settle. He’s always been my biggest supporter, and without him, Distract simply wouldn’t be here.
Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
I won an Instagram competition when I was 19 by using a picture I found on Google. It was a bit cheeky I suppose, but I didn’t technically break any rules.
I then sold the piece for £450, which helped me invest in my business at the time. It’s another one of those little things that pushed my business forward.
What does success look like to you?
Happiness. There will always be someone with a nicer car, a bigger house and more money. But money doesn’t make you successful.
All you can do is focus on yourself and become the best version of yourself that you can be. That’s what success is. It’s happiness.