Everyone thought I was mad. Even my Grandmother looked up at me from her deathbed and said “Don’t do it!” the day that I announced that I was going to leave my well paid job as a gas service engineer to start my own business.
For years I had dreamed of starting my own business and now I had taken action (and a massive loan from the bank) and opened up a convenience store and post office. I figured that people always need to eat and therefore opening a shop selling food was a guarantee for success.
Did I enjoy overnight success? NO.
The reality was that I ended up working 18 hours a day, seven days a week for 9 months, sacrificing valuable time with my young family in the process, before finally things started to improve. I went on to open another two stores and won many national competitions including an all expenses paid trip to New York sponsored by Sir Richard Branson.
I thought that I had finally cracked it. Life was good, or so I thought. Then a Superstore opened up nearby and my landlord also opened up a convenience store next door to me. Suddenly my sales dropped.
How did I survive?
I looked for new ways to make money in my stores. I added new lines and introduced more promotions and slowly my customers returned to my store and life was good again.
I then decided to embark on a new adventure-namely building my dream home. I bought a field that had planning permission and split it into five plots.I sold four of the plots almost immediately and kept a plot for myself. The revenue that I made from selling the other plots paid for the infrastructure and towards the cost of building my dream home.
As I was fortunate enough to have good staff to run my stores for me whilst I project managed the building of my house, I was able to process my paperwork from my home office. I began to enjoy not having to travel daily back and forth to my businesses and this got me thinking about working from home permanently.
Not being one to drag my feet I sold my retail stores business and started my own construction and development company that I ran from home. My business specialised in buying and selling land and project managing building dream homes for others. This became a successful business very quickly and again life was good. However just at that time the recession came and the demand for wanting to buy land and build houses decreased dramatically. This was a big shock and a massive worry for me as I still had outstanding business loans to pay, staff to provide work for as well as a family to feed. I needed to act fast. I desperately needed to find a way to make more money.
I quickly diversified my business to concentrate more on smaller building works like extensions, loft conversions and conservatories. This took a little time as I needed to rebrand the company to focus more on building works. However once I had tried and tested and found the best marketing methods my company went from strength to strength.
That was until three customers in succession took advantage of my good nature and did not pay for the work that I had carried out for them, due to them running out of money. This was a very stressful time as it resulted in lengthy, costly legal proceedings to recover monies due to me which caused massive cash flow problems within my business.
This is a major downfall for many bricks and mortar businesses especially as you have to outlay lots of capital for materials and labour before you receive payment from the customer. Many businesses have then sadly gone into administration when customers have then failed to pay for the goods and services provided.
Fortunately I was able to survive but it made be re evaluate what I wanted from life.
I knew for sure that I definitely wanted to still run a business. It was what I had done successfully for over twenty years, but I began to look into other opportunities. I still wanted to run a business from home, which in effect was what I was already doing with my construction company, but without the responsibility that the bricks and mortar business provided, namely having staff to find work for and customers delaying in paying for their goods.
That’s when I began to look into opportunities for online businesses. As an established successful businessman I quickly realised that this type of business could provide me with the perfect balance that I needed in my life.
I would still be my own boss, I could still work from home but with this type of business there was a huge global audience to market to and better still they would pay for their goods in advance and the only staff I needed to recruit was my wife.
Julie, my wife had never been that active in running my bricks and mortar businesses but she was very excited about embarking on an online business together especially as this meant that she could work from home around the needs of our young children…Something that she could not have done with our bricks and mortar businesses as the working hours were dictated by customer and supplier needs.