The long and narrow road to success is never smooth

Rich Martell and Dan Murray-Serter combined to create the Secret Leaders podcast

Starting a business is an exciting journey but it’s not without its ups and downs – the road to success can often be a bumpy one.

Someone who knows all about this is serial entrepreneur Dan Murray-Serter.

After launching his highly successful fashion app Grabble alongside partner Joel Freeman, the pair raised £4million in angel funding to scale the growth.

However, they were soon confronted with a difficult challenge.

Their business model simply couldn’t scale – no matter how much revenue they made – and it became clear that their business was fundamentally flawed.

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Rich Martell and Dan Murray-Serter combined to create the Secret Leaders podcast

After unsuccessfully attempting to rectify the situation, Dan (inset, below right) took the decision to scale back and start again instead.

During this time, Dan had also started a podcast, Secret Leaders, as he was often seeking the advice and council of other experienced entrepreneurs to help him navigate his own tricky path.

A fan of asking difficult, invasive and curious questions, he teamed up with fellow entrepreneur Rich Martell to develop Secret Leaders as a top podcast designed to educate, inspire and delight fellow entrepreneurs that might also be struggling with a difficult journey.

Launched in 2017, the show has featured interviews with the likes of Jo Malone CBE, Rankin, and Baroness Martha Lane Fox.

To mark the recent launch of season three, Dan has shared his top five tips for bouncing back in business, combining his own learnings with the wealth of insights he’s gathered after spending more than 200 hours speaking with the world’s biggest entrepreneurial minds.

Have the courage to make difficult calls

When a project you’ve put your heart and soul into fails, it’s devastating.

After enjoying such rapid success, it was hard to accept that Grabble wasn’t ready to scale up at such a pace. But taking the decision to wind down was ultimately the best course of action for everyone involved.

Biting the bullet and making difficult calls is an essential part of business and that’s something I’ll carry with me through all my new ventures.

Don’t let one setback put you off

Bankruptcy does not mean failure; there are thousands of incredible entrepreneurs out there who’ve gone bust and still gone on to achieve bigger and better things.

One setback doesn’t define you. Passion, creativity and determination is enough to keep that entrepreneurial spirit alive.

Harness this and use your learnings to refine and improve your next idea.


Once you move past the initial disappointment of a failure, you can start to evaluate how it happened.

It’s important to be honest with yourself and really interrogate your actions – ask yourself what you could have done differently. Then use these learnings to better yourself.

After closing Grabble, I was able to start my next business, Dawn – a human potential company providing content, a community and products to optimise cognitive performance – with a fresh mind and new skills to make the venture a success.

Listen to your peers

A problem shared is a problem halved. Learning from your peers is hugely powerful and means that when things go wrong you have a network of people you can turn to for help.

This is also why I co-founded Secret Leaders – to help others learn from inspirational people who have a wealth of knowledge to share.

Give yourself a break

The life of an entrepreneur is not exactly an easy one.

It’s long hours, hard graft and a lot of mental pressure – and that’s when it’s all going well.

So when things take a turn for the worse it’s important to give yourself some headspace.

If your business has failed, it might not feel appropriate to jet off on holiday – which is fair enough – but at least give yourself a long weekend to recharge your batteries and look after your mental health.

You’ll reap the benefits, I promise.

Secret Leaders is available on iTunes and Spotify.