Putting a face to a name

As the founder of multiple start-ups, I'm no stranger to the marvels of modern technology.

Putting a face to a name

David Graham, CEO and co-founder of Code Ninjas, is
passionate about the importance of kids learning to code. As an expert in
technology, entrepreneurship, and franchising, David is proud to represent his
brand across all channels both in the UK and the US. He knows, first-hand, how
playing an active part in business can positively impact the perception of a

As the founder of multiple start-ups, I’m no stranger to the marvels of modern technology. Nowadays, thanks to the convenience of 5G wireless internet and free video-conferencing software, many businesses can be operated from almost anywhere in the world. So, whilst I’m not writing this franchise diary from a beach in the Bahamas, in theory, I could if I wanted to. The ability to disconnect from the corporate world is a goal for many business owners but I’ve come to the realisation that this level of detachment can risk the credibility and productivity of a brand.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about micro-managing. I believe that you must give your team ample room to own their work and drive your business forward. But I am of the mindset that a leader’s presence and proactivity are fundamental components of good business. Whether you play a lead role in your franchise, or you’re more of a silent investor, it’s imperative that you make efforts to put a face to a name. And whilst I’m not suggesting your attendance is required at every ribbon cutting or staff meeting, building a culture of consistent presence from the very beginning is a great way to establish belief in your brand.

If you’re the figurehead or the active spokesperson for your business, then it goes without saying that you should be instantly recognisable to anyone who comes into contact with your brand. But before you start pasting your face onto bus stops and billboards, might I suggest you start – much – smaller. I suggest a strategy of ‘little and often’, by proactively seeking out relevant opportunities to raise your profile. You’re of no use to anyone if you’re so busy at meet and greets that business operations fall by the wayside, so don’t set unrealistic expectations of yourself.

Meeting with prospects – whether that’s prospective franchisees, customers or staff – early on in the buying process is crucial. I can vouch for the impact this has, having attended numerous Code Ninjas Discovery Days since we first arrived in the UK. I revel in the opportunity to be involved in someone’s decision making process by answering questions in a personable and relaxed way.

That’s another point I’d like to stress – avoid using business jargon, complicated acronyms or cheesy sales messages. Often, the most influential CEOs are the ones who keep it real and communicate with humility and confidence. Before attending any corporate event, establish the audience and their motives beforehand – if you’re meeting with prospective clients, get ready for questions about your service or brand culture. If it’s a charity fundraiser, prep for media questions around your commitment to the community. Judge the audience and communicate accordingly – it’s as simple as that. Soon, you’ll be regarded as someone who knows their stuff. That’s the sort of profile raising that money literally can’t buy.

With that being said, not all business owners are customer or employee facing. Many franchisees appoint a manager to operate their business for them, as they run things remotely or, at the very least, check in for regular updates. In this instance, it’s still imperative that you set the example to your team by remaining proactive and contactable. How are you supposed to understand the culture of your own business if you’re not playing any role? There’s that age old saying that you’re only as strong as your weakest link, so checking in from behind the scenes where appropriate is a great way to establish those weak – or, sometimes, missing – links.

Despite the fact that my schedule is as crazy now as it has ever been, as Code Ninjas prepares for the opening of our first UK centre, I manage to remain a constant brand ambassador by doing just that – constantly representing my brand. It’s not without hard work or commitment – and a lot of air miles – but the investment is well worth the rewards.

Bio: David Graham is the founder and CEO of kids coding franchise, Code Ninjas – launched in Houston, Texas, in 2016. Three years on and the former programmer and entrepreneur has taken the business to incredible heights, with an international franchise network and more than 200 Code Ninjas centres.

David Graham
David Graham