What was your first job after leaving school/further education?
I worked for SKY TV when I left University, first of all on the customer service line, then moved onto their SYSCAN line for customers who hadn?t paid and had their SKY switched off.
When did you start your business & what prompted you to do it?
My employer at the time brought in a new regional manager who had some odd methodology, we didn?t hit it off and this provided the catalyst to do our own thing. This occurred in Aug 2004
What did you find most challenging at the beginning?
Access to credit is very difficult starting out and getting knowledgeable banking relationship managers was impossible. Combine that with HMRC rules on gross payments to ?subcontractors? only kicking in after sufficient turnover has been achieved, allowing our suppliers to deduct 20% from our invoice totals, and you can see life was challenging in the beginning.
Who did you ask for advice & why did you choose them?
We enlisted expert help from an experienced ?angel? investor but also someone who owned their own construction company. This gave us access to industry knowledge and we piggy backed on his established relationships with banking, insurance, mobile phone suppliers etc.
How did you fund your business?
We sold 50% of the equity to the angel investor and another operational director which provided seed capital to allow us to better plan our banking facilities.
What would you do differently now looking back?
Our cost control process was not ideal and we should have invested in dedicated back office staff earlier with specific knowledge of recruitment business processes.
What or who has helped you to grow your business the most?
The general market conditions in 2005-2008 was like shooting fish in a barrel. The recession has actually been extremely useful for providing focus into the areas of the business which promote growth. Cost control has been brought sharply into focus and more creative ways of identifying new workload has had to be developed.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Identifying customers who had no intention of paying!! There is a certain type of ?entrepreneur? out there who?s business model centres around getting subcontractors to supply the labour and then simply not pay them, fold their business, and then start up the following day as a phoenix from the flames.
What are the future plans for your business?
We are looking in the short to medium term to expand our proposition into Glasgow and Aberdeen, double our headcount to 28, and establish ourselves as the principle supplier of labour and trades to the construction market in Scotland. We have no plans to expand outside Scotland at this time.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to set up their own business?
Don?t fear risk. Risk is the foundation on which all profits are based. Where there is risk, there is the probability of reward and the possibility of failure, and the possibility of failure is a hugely motivational positive force so don?t fear that but use it.
Tell us something about you that isn’t commonly known.
In 1986, David Wilkie attempted a come back at the Scottish Long Course Swimming Championships, only 10 years after his Olympic Gold in Montreal. He came 3rd???.I was 2nd. I was also Scottish breaststroke champion over 100m in 1991. In my spare time, I also coach swimming with Haddington Swimming Club.
And finally, why did you join WeDO?
I was made to by Paul Atkinson, he said it was a good networking opportunity!….Who am I to argue with that??
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