What do you currently do?
I am the managing director of CallPro CRM, a cloud-based customer management system with integrated social media feeds for targeted calling and email marketing. My goal is to build the business into an established name in the field in our chosen markets. This means having the right product – and letting as many people as possible know about its special features. In the technology business things move very quickly, so the product needs to be constantly updated and improved.
Being internet based, we have sold to customers in over 35 countries around the world. Along with the UK, North America is a key sales region, and to cater to this market we created a subsidiary company with offices in Clearwater, Florida. Our UK sales doubled this year and we set up a subsidiary company to cater for Asia and Australasia
Although known as a graveyard for British companies, Call Pro CRM achieved a significant level of sales in the US from the UK office before we felt confident to incorporate in the US and make bigger in-roads to a massive market.
What is your inspiration in business?
The challenge is to build a profitable growing business ensuring all the constituent parts are as good as they can be – as well as being cost effective. So, principally for me it’s all about product development, customer service and sales. We’ve always been profitable and now we’ve got to a point where our product and organisation is outstanding, so 2015 is looking really promising.
Who do you admire?
Anyone who’s built a business from nothing: people who have started out with a concept or unique idea who have worked hard into creating a profitable venture. There are some obvious high profile British businesspeople such as Sir Tom Hunter, Sir Richard Branson, Lord Sugar), but equally there are thousands of others you’ve never heard of. Outside the business world it’s good to see people who are successful in their own field but don’t make a song and dance about it, for example Jonny Wilkinson always seems very grounded.
Looking back would you have done things differently?
The key thing is that you evaluate your situation and make your decisions based on the information available. Inevitably there are times when it’s not the right decision but that can’t be helped. If there’s one thing I have learnt it’s that you have to look after your customers and give the best service possible. Over the years there have been times when customer service has been below par but we’ve learnt from that and now have a manager dedicated to customer relations.
What defines your way of doing business?
It may sound obvious, but the key principles are commitment, honesty and fairness. I don’t agree with any “tough” or underhand ways of working – the challenge is dealing with people who do work like that! The Apprentice is certainly a highly entertaining TV show, but it’s not something to model your own business on.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
It’s a lot of hard work, and you won’t be successful if you just stick to working 9-5 Monday to Friday. It’s worthwhile putting in the extra time your business deserves.
Persevere: don’t give up when the going gets tough, instead double your efforts.
If at all possible fund your business yourself without debt. It’s a hard task, but aim to begin with a clean sheet, a bottom line that’s not in the red and as much of your business’s equity in your own hands.