Monthly Archives: February 2014
Posted on February 1, 2014 by Catherine Howard
What led you to starting your business?I lost my job after my previous role in newspaper production management became redundant. After applying for numerous jobs at all levels and getting no replies, I decided I’d got to try and help myself. I drew a mental line under what I had been doing for the previous thirty years. With the economic downturn I figured that there should be plenty of bankrupt or liquidation stock available to buy and sell on, so began to do some searching online.
How did you raise the start-up funds you needed?I initially bought some customer returned stock online for £54.54. I sold these for a profit and bought some more. This gave me a bit of confidence and so my wife and I decided to invest a small amount of savings into a business and see what happened.
What was the most significant lesson you learned in starting your business?To analyse your successes and failures. All experience is useful.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read, business or non-business?I haven’t read any business books. Keep the aspidistra flying – George Orwell. Some snippets re advertising.
Who is the entrepreneur you admire the most?Michael O’Leary. Ryanair have revolutionised air travel to the benefit of the customer. They give incredible value for money as far as I’m concerned. Plus he replied personally to a letter I wrote to him.
What have been the biggest challenges in your business to date?Negative people. The old boys network that looks to stifle newcomers. Lack of broadband where I live. Poor mobile phone coverage. Poor quality service for P.O.S. terminals charged at premium rates by merchant banks.
What has been the proudest moment in your business so far?Selling my products to some well known Irish racehorse trainers.
What was the best piece of business advice you ever got?1) Don’t be a busy fool and2) There are no problems – only opportunities.
Can you recommend a good time management technique for other entrepreneurs out there?No I’m still looking for that myself, but I’ve found that trying to get an answer from anyone on a Monday, a Friday or between 12.25 and 2.15 seems to be more difficult than it is at other times during the working week! So I spend that time doing something more productive instead!
What magazine do you never miss each month?None, I don’t buy magazines or newspapers.
What is your favourite film?The Godfather Part 2, Kes, Quadrophenia, The Shining…
What is your favourite ad?I normally switch channels when the adverts come on. If pushed I would pick something amusing like a Paddy Power ad.
What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business?Keep all costs to an absolute minimum and in particular don’t waste lots of money on branding or advertising early on. Test the water first, see if there is a demand for your product or service. Don’t spend money you can’t afford. Be confident in yourself. Analyse your mistakes and learn from them.
What do you like to do when you’re not running your business?When in full time employment I had much more free time and I used to go to the gym, spend time gardening, I took up water colour painting, I like music, I quite like cooking, I like watching sports. Since starting my business most of these have gone by the wayside due to time pressures and a lack of routine, my aim is to get that free time back. Gym membership is first on the agenda!
Have you found the self-employed formula for a work/life balance?What is it?! Unless you class 95% work/5% life a balance then no not really.
What’s your website?www.agent74.com
Do you have a Facebook page?https://www.facebook.com/pages/Agent-74/412317452130556?ref=hl
How has Wicklow CEB helped you and/or your business?I did a ‘start your own business’ course and a basic SEO course, which have been both helpful and have given me some confidence, in that one meets other people in a similar situation, with similar questions, worries and doubts.
If you could start up all over again, would you do anything differently?Well I suppose there are mistakes that I wouldn’t make again, but I didn’t know they were mistakes until after I’d made them!