Q: What was the first big reality check you had as a business owner?
'I quickly realised that owning a business is not all glitz and glamour, but just plain grit. You’ll be so bored of sitting in the office doing menial jobs, or sales, or paperwork and you want to just keep putting those things off – or finish up early. They have to be done, so just push on through and get on with it! It’s an on-going thing, it’ll never go away and just a straight up reality of what owning a business looks like.'
Q: Do any of those experiences change as a business grows?
' (Laughs) Not really, if anything there’s more of it! One thing that stands out for me after being shortlisted for the award, is how being a business owner is painted as this glamorous role - full of freedom, control, success and awards; but that’s just not an accurate representation of what it’s like.
I know many business owners who feel short-changed by the way things are going in their company, myself included at times, because people don't talk about the tough parts - but hopefully this interview will help people get a better perspective.'
Q: How do you feel business owners should respond to the demands of working lots of hours?
'It’s a fact: you’ve got to be prepared to sacrifice things. If you’ve agreed with someone that you’ll do something, you’ve got to do it – there’s no two ways about it. It’s your neck on the line! Sometimes it’s an evening; sometimes it’s that yearly holiday.'
'Although I've learnt it's important to keep a good balance – it took me a couple of years of being engrossed in the business until enough was enough and I needed a break. You can't just burn out, like so many do. I came back more motivated and generally worked better. I suppose if you’re managing stuff properly it becomes less of a concern, but that’s a learning curve in itself.'
Q: As a Managing Director, where does most of the pressure come from?
'Just the responsibility of it all, I guess. If you have employees you’ve got to remember you’re paying their mortgage as well as yours – so as their boss, you get paid last. If at the end of the month everyone’s been paid and it’s a fiver in your hand, then your job is to not crumble under the pressure but work out solutions instead.
That’s a massive responsibility hanging over you, and I just think - how can you not take that seriously?'
Q: DH Business Support began as a family business 5 years ago, how has that shaped things looking back?
'As a family business you have to clearly define the roles, as it’s very personal environment. You have to sit down at the start and talk about them with each other, but those lines can be flexible and change as it progresses. Which it has done, and we're still all happy - so that's good!'
'I think being a business owner can be a lonely world, so I’d always encourage people to start a business with someone else. Multiple brains work better than one, so find a friend, family member; just someone who can share that enthusiasm you have and who can encourage you to keep going when you don’t feel like it.'
Q: Lastly, what would you say are 3 reality checks new business owners need to hear?
1. It’s going to be hard and boring at times, but just keep on going.
2. Accept that your responsibilities are massive, take them seriously and instead of crumbling: take time to work out solutions.
3. Get a partner or start up your business with someone else – so all the above isn’t as hard!