Getting to know you: Craig Busst

What do you currently do?
I’m currently the Managing Director of City Numbers. We provide inbound telephone numbers such as 0800 and international phone numbers for businesses. The company was acquired by j2Global in January this year, so it’s been all change for me and the company in the past few months.

What is your inspiration in business?
I want City Numbers to be the go to company for businesses looking to acquire an international presence, and reaching this goal is what drives me every day. Expanding abroad is always an exciting time and natural evolution for any business, and I want us to be the first port of call (no pun intended!) for all those looking to do this.

Who do you admire?
It might seem an odd choice for a male, but I really admire Karren Brady. It’s not often you get a female director turning around an underperforming football club (Birmingham City), into a profitable, Premier League organisation. She was only 23 when she started at Birmingham City too! Of course she’s most well-known now as being the left hand lady to Sir Alan Sugar on The Apprentice, but it’s what she achieved as such a young female in the business world that I admire the most.

Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
During the first two years of City Numbers, it was a struggle. Through hard work and determination, we turned it around and built a very successful business. But in hindsight we might have made greater strides in those early years if we had expedited the process of getting overseas carriers to work with us. This might have accelerated our growth a lot earlier.

What defines your way of doing business?
The customer really is at the heart of everything we do. It sounds clichéd but they’re the people who can make or break a business, so they’re always our highest priority. When something goes wrong – which fortunately isn’t very often – we admit where we’ve been at fault and accept responsibility. Despite everyone’s best intentions and efforts, mistakes will happen in any business, and we’re always honest with customers. I think that should be everybody’s way of doing business– people respect honesty, even if it’s not what they want to hear.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Firstly, make sure you’ve got enough money saved up to last at least two years to protect you during the early days of a business. Secondly, don’t just listen to those in your inner circle; listen to people in the industry who aren’t friends or family. If they say your idea isn’t good, then it probably isn’t.

Lastly, I’d say it’s better on the whole to stick to what you know. My background lies primarily in telecoms but I’ve tried to experiment with other industries in the past, with limited success. If you do want to venture into new territories then make sure you’ve done thorough research first and think about partnering with those that do understand the market you are going after. Apart from anything else, if you’re not already recognised in the industry, it can be hard to make an impression on it, so having a business partner with a little black book of contacts can prove invaluable.

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