How did you get into the business you are in?

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by Bigred2019, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. Bigred2019

    Bigred2019 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 3
    Hi all,

    I’m new to the forum, but have been lurking for a little while. Just want to start by saying what a wonderful forum this is. I look after sales and marketing for my business, so finding a place with a bunch of likeminded individuals is so refreshing

    Anyhow, on with my thread. Super long story short, I’m the part owner of a distribution business which specialises in renewable heating products. We do well in a very small market which is going to get much bigger over the next few years (relatively new technology, consumer awareness just tipping in to mainstream).

    I fell in to my industry about 10 years ago, having no idea about the kit I now spend every day selling and supporting, working from the absolute ground up (internal sales to external sales, to sales manager to sales director). I really enjoy the distribution and technical sales part of what we do. The fact that I sell a specific piece of equipment is irrelevant sometimes. For me it’s much more about understanding what the customer is after, providing a technical solution and maintaining the relationship.

    With that in mind I’d be really interested to find out how anyone else got in to their industry, and what it is that keeps them happy coming to work every day?
    Posted: Oct 12, 2019 By: Bigred2019 Member since: Oct 12, 2019
  2. Onthebrightside

    Onthebrightside UKBF Contributor Free Member

    43 10
    I have had to retire due to cancer (doing OK now though), but I used to run a small jewellery shop, handmaking the jewellery myself. I ran it for 9 years and it was absolutely wonderful, I didn't feel I went to work at all. Jewellery making had always been one of my hobbies, but after looking at lease costs, the mark up of handmade jewellery etc. I decided to be bold, get a loan, shop and get going. I will never regret it, it was the best time of my life in many ways. But if you had told me whilst I was working as a research assistant in London that I would pack it all in for a small shop making and selling my own jewellery I would have just started laughing hysterically. But there you are... dreams come true :)
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 2:00 AM By: Onthebrightside Member since: Oct 29, 2018
  3. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    3,480 1,045
    Honestly. Got a job after leaving college with a bank-owned finance company. HD no idea what I really wanted

    here I an35 years later doing essentially the same thing (albeit in a far more focused way)
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 8:33 AM By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
  4. SpikeFMT

    SpikeFMT UKBF Contributor Free Member

    37 12
    I had lots of factory jobs but really didn't like the clock orientated working patterns ie a bell would sound for the start and end of the working day as well as for the break and lunchtimes and wobetide you if you needed the loo in between them. In the late 1980s I got a tyre fitting job at a local place and really enjoyed how flexible this type of work was, you could be flat out for a couple of hours then quiet for a bit and you had your breaks around this sometimes they were short other times quite long and you could go to the loo whenever.
    I saw an opportunity of a gap in the market for a mobile car tyre fitting service for the general public to have their tyres fixed or replaced at home or workplace and within a year or so in 1990 I packed in my job and went it alone as probably the UKs 1st fully mobile tyre fitting service which while it was a struggle to get it going and earning a wage I believed in it and stuck at it really enjoying the whole concept and the people I met.
    So here I am today 9am on a Sunday morning in the office waiting for 1 member of staff who starts at 10am and who will work with me today till 4pm (5 for me) still doing the same business but I now have a tyre depot of my own and employ 4 members of staff with the mobile tyre fitting vans and still enjoying the work I do.
    Looking back now to when I first spoke with work colleagues and friends back in the 1980s about starting this up it was surprising how many doom and gloom merchants there were telling me this would never work and why chuck your job in etc etc I am just so glad I did not listen to their moans as there are now loads of mobile tyre fitting businesses out there now big and small and I would have been so gutted to have not followed my dream to work for myself and I have had no regrets in doing so.
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 9:51 AM By: SpikeFMT Member since: Jan 13, 2018
  5. Bigred2019

    Bigred2019 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 3
    That is such a brilliant story
    I love what I do day to day, but there are times I wish I was a little more passionate about the product we distribute like you were with jewellery.
    With that said there does seem to be a direct correlation in many cases between passion for work and lack of remuneration (fiancée is a midwife - incredible job satisfaction, but nowhere near the remuneration for the stress involved)
    I hope everything continues going well regarding the cancer
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 10:53 AM By: Bigred2019 Member since: Oct 12, 2019
  6. Bigred2019

    Bigred2019 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 3
    thanks for the reply Mark . Is it the kind of thing you could imagine doing till retirement?
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 10:54 AM By: Bigred2019 Member since: Oct 12, 2019
  7. Bigred2019

    Bigred2019 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 3
    Thanks so much for the reply Spike it sounds like you have a very cool business there. Was there ever a dream to take it national? Perhaps franchise out?
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 10:57 AM By: Bigred2019 Member since: Oct 12, 2019

    JEREMY HAWKE UKBF Legend Full Member

    4,031 1,276
    Owner driver - 1 more van then another - company
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 11:25 AM By: JEREMY HAWKE Member since: Mar 4, 2008
  9. Socio South West

    Socio South West UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    870 214
    A topical question just at the moment as it's near enough 25 years since the pivotal moment in my working life when an American dairy farmer opened my eyes to what was about to happen to British farming, and within a year I had sold everything, including about £300k's worth of milk quota which was valueless within three years.
    I then embarked on a varied selection of hands on management jobs including some prestige historic building projects and a waste paper company servicing the major porn magazine printers in Bristol and the New Look import warehouse among other clients before I embarked on a vertical learning curve with the purchase of a small photography studio equipment suppliers business.

    As that reached maturity I branched into some minor business consultancy work, and after selling the company 5 years ago now mix a few consultancy and troubleshooting assignments with a couple of VA roles in rather a hectic semi retirement.
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 11:32 AM By: Socio South West Member since: Mar 24, 2013
  10. MBE2017

    MBE2017 UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,066 278
    Although the industry changes I am almost always in sales, it fits into my lifestyle with a disabled daughter. I just do not travel as much anymore, I used to travel across the world and stay away for weeks, now I only travel up to three hours from my house.

    Since I currently sell heating products, what renewable heating product OP are you in?
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 1:27 PM By: MBE2017 Member since: Feb 16, 2017
  11. gpietersz

    gpietersz UKBF Regular Full Member

    193 27
    My previous career was a bit different, to say the least. I was an analyst working in stockbroking and fund management (so I have worked "buy-side" and "sell-side" and in two countries) and I had worked for an investment research and advice dotcom.

    I got made redundant and took a few months off, and go offered a job at a software company that develops trading systems for stock exchanges. My job at that point was to talk to clients and document requirement and trading rules, explain what was needed to developers, etc. I had done a bit of this before at the dotcom.

    I left to start my own business, and one thing I did was develop the (fairly complex, entirely custom) website for that business. I had been a hobby programmer since I was a child, done some programming courses as part of other degrees and done some OU courses for fun, I had done some simple websites etc.

    The business failed, but a spin-off website got a lot of traffic. I stuck Google Ads on it, improved it a bit, and it provided a good part of my income for the next few years.

    I then went more seriously into developing websites. Someone I knew slightly whether I could make some changes to his website. I had a look and found the worst website I had ever seen - insecure (every single form was vulnerable to SQL injection, a Webui to manage the database anyone could access if they knew the URL), hard to manage and SEO that relied purely on keyword spam (and the same keywords and meta description on every single page). I told him he had to scrap it and start and that was my first big customer (his requirements did demand a custom site by the way). I am doing some work for him at the moment, a decade later.

    From there I started using a freelancing site and gradually got more customers. Over the years my work as got more varied - in the last few years I have worked on a CRM, machine learning, a data viewing app for medical devices, a niche search engine and a lot more.

    I now find a lot of the time the most valuable thing I do for my clients is give them good advice rather than just implement what they ask for. A business and finance background really helps with this and I am thinking of making it a separate line of business rather than an add-on.
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 1:48 PM By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
  12. SpikeFMT

    SpikeFMT UKBF Contributor Free Member

    37 12
    I suppose I could have done but I was in my own bubble at the time so didn't really think of doing it, there are a few franchises for this service now but some of them crashed such as Event Tyres and I would not have liked to have had people that had invested in doing this and perhaps lose their money if it had of not worked on my concience however I am always happy via this and other forums to give my honest advice to anyone looking to do this and perhaps help them avoid some of the mistakes that I made along the way.
    As for making it national but not franchise then that would be difficult as the only true one that does this without any depots like Kwik Fit, ATS etc or fitting partners like Blackcircle etc would be Tyres on the Drive but they found it a hard market and went bust earlier this year for millions of pounds, however they still trade because an investment company took on the business afterwards pretty much debt free. I am happy to keep small and local
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 3:33 PM By: SpikeFMT Member since: Jan 13, 2018
  13. Onthebrightside

    Onthebrightside UKBF Contributor Free Member

    43 10

    Oh, my Goodness, will someone pleeeaase pay the midwifes more money and give them free housing. Do any of us have a more stressful or demanding job than making sure a new life is given the best opportunity to enter the world safely and well?
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 5:46 PM By: Onthebrightside Member since: Oct 29, 2018
  14. Bigred2019

    Bigred2019 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 3
    Wholeheartedly agree
    My fiancée quit a really well paid job in recruitment to train as a midwife after the birth of her son. She saw issues in the support she was given, so she put her money where her mouth is and when back to Uni to retrain to try and make a difference. 13.5 hour shifts and your constantly dealing with life and unfortunately sometimes death. She’ll come back after work tonight, and she’ll be physically drained. I’m genuinely in awe of her. Really helps put in perspective a bad day at my office.
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 6:26 PM By: Bigred2019 Member since: Oct 12, 2019
  15. Bigred2019

    Bigred2019 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 3
    It sounds like you’ve made some really good decisions along the way. Rightly or wrongly, I come from a place where bigger is better. Partly to say “look how good I’m doing” (immature but true). But if I’m honest it’s mostly out of fear. If you are a small fish in a big pond there is always a worry for me that I’ll be eaten up. I look back to when I worked in a car accessories store when I was 16. We had a Halfords round the corner which we were forever losing business too. This particular Halfords didn’t have the passionate and knowledgeable staff that we had, but they were bigger so sales came to them by default much of the time. I guess that idea that being bigger is better came from there. If I became a Halfords, the sales would come to me easier than being the small independent (ignoring the huge overheads and marketing costs for a moment ).
    Ironically within my current industry I deal with a lot of independent as well as national plumbers merchants, and a lot of the time, the independents will rule over the nationals on relationship alone.
    Back to what you mentioned, I use black circles myself and have to admit, it’s pretty convenient, and the service has always been really good front end and fitting end. I suppose it’s the same reason I use booksy for booking in at the barbers. Convenient and effective.
    I hope you don’t mind me asking, but say you were in my position (tidy business, 7 staff, huge market potential over next 5 to 10 years) and you had your time again, would you expand to try and be the biggest to take the largest market share, or would you stay small and specialised, but very lean, so you can weather any punches from the market?
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 6:41 PM By: Bigred2019 Member since: Oct 12, 2019
  16. Gordon - Commercial Finance

    Gordon - Commercial Finance UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,531 413
    I accidentally studied finance at university, and ended up working in Investment Banking as an accountant to managed funds and hedge funds.

    Then my Father in Law started thinking about succession planning and retirement, so I took a swerve into what I’m doing now, and set up my own company doing the same as what he does. Eventually I will take over all his clients when he (finally) retires.
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 7:32 PM By: Gordon - Commercial Finance Member since: Jun 26, 2017
  17. tony84

    tony84 UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    5,569 985
    Dropped out of Uni doing web design. Still had some of my student loan in the bank, combined with dole money (£88 a fortnight) I was loving life. Getting up at lunch time, going to the gym and then going out at night.

    Mum came in one day went ballistic at me, told me to get a job so I went and got a job with RBS, a week or 2 later. It was just the first place to offer me a job, I never planned on getting into finance, I took to it (promoted twice in less than 2 years). After 18 months I decided I wanted to be a financial adviser, as time progressed I decided I enjoyed mortgages more and eventually became a mortgage broker.

    My mum now works for "with" me and she still shouts at me... usually for saying "for" or asking her to do things which are part of her job.
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 7:42 PM By: tony84 Member since: Apr 14, 2008
  18. Bigred2019

    Bigred2019 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 3
    LOL that's a brilliant story! How long have you been specialising in mortgages?
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 8:04 PM By: Bigred2019 Member since: Oct 12, 2019
  19. James Johnson

    James Johnson UKBF Contributor Free Member

    32 8
    Hope you don’t mind me interjecting here but good question and I am sure many on here have come to this juncture and gone one way or the other with different opinions and experiences to add.

    My advice is you need to fully understand what type of person you truly are and how much pressure/stress/money etc you want/need and what your prepared to sacrifice or rather what you are prepared to give up for it, assuming your thinking of going big.

    I’ve had both sides and can tell you now I would rather be poor and happy than rich and unhappy.

    Some people love the constant need to be on it and chasing organising overworking thinking planning plotting talking emailing selling driving blah blah blah others happy to setup a passive income roll out of bed at 10am gym and chill others somewhere in between, so answer which one of them you want to get your answer.

    To the OP I ran a adult website with the get up at 10am gym and chill life making big dollar for little effort once established, got bored and started a event company with all the day to day headaches you would expect purely to prove to myself I can make a 2nd successful business knew jack all about the industry and jumped in purely for the challenge last years turnover over £200k now looking to get it managed and being able to stay in bed until 10am once again.
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 8:07 PM By: James Johnson Member since: Sep 23, 2018
  20. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    16,755 1,871
    Been self employed at various times, often with a full time job or 2 jobs on top.
    Set up a limited company to provide a job for my wife while I was at uni, grew it slowly to start with then faster as we became more experienced in what sells where. Mostly online but have spent years doing markets, events etc offline.

    This is our 2nd limited company (first one died), growing OK and got dozens of ideas to add on over time or split off into different companies. This isn't big enough yet for her to be paid a wage, need to grow a bit first.
    Posted: Oct 13, 2019 at 8:26 PM By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017