Welcome to Saturday Business chat. Today we’re back up North after a quick trip to America, talking to Rob Hyde from Yorkshire-based Communyx Telecom who has been running for about a year as a company after being self-employed for a while. It’s interesting to read about the negative reactions he’s had to starting a business at this time of recession – I can’t recall off-hand that I’ve experienced that myself, but I suppose I could counter it with the safe and protected way I did it. Have any of my readers had naysayers and doom and gloom merchants predicting disaster? I’d be interested to know.
Another interesting point, to me, is that the reason Rob gave up working in London was to spend more time with family. This bears out my findings from my informal survey that our motivation is not so much about the financial rewards as about family, freedom, and being in control of your own day and schedule.
Let’s meet Rob.
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called Communyx Telecom, I officially started about a year ago but I’ve been self-employed for years.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I started Communyx Telecom because most of my work as a sole trader was in London and some of it was outside of the U.K. I have a daughter and I wanted to make sure I was at home each evening and could enjoy her growing up.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I’ve always worked as a cable monkey in one form or another. I’ve been doing this for nearly twenty years. I’ve been through college to qualify as an electrician and I’ve lost count of the telecom and network courses I’ve been on!
Had you run your own business before?
I’ve spent most of my working career as a self-employed engineer one way or another. I’m not sure I could go back now!
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I started out sub-contracting, as I had done for years, but under the Communyx banner. Over time I’ve carried out less and less work out for other companies and mainly work on my own jobs now.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
I wish someone had told me not to listen to the purveyors of doom and gloom. The people who draw breath through their teeth when you tell them you’re setting up a new business in the middle of a recession. This is a great time to set up: bigger companies cannot compete against SMEs on either price or quality of work. Nobody can afford the over-inflated prices of the fat cats and so they look elsewhere. Once you understand this you realise that this is the best time to start up!
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
To have faith in myself and to just be myself. Oh and to buy the new BMW you were looking at; it would be nearly paid for by now!
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I wish I’d done it much earlier – it turns out I’m quite good at running a business.
What are you glad you did?
I’m glad I networked again. I’d tried it a few years before and it’d left a bad taste in my mouth. This time around it was much easier and I’ve enjoyed it; it was with a very different network this time though!
What’s your top business tip?
Don’t look at the big picture: break it down in to smaller pieces that you can manage.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
I’m still doing the exact same thing I did when I started, the same thing I’ve always done. What I tend to find is that I push different aspects of the business at different times, just so everyone is aware of the different things I do.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
Well, the first twelve months have been great; we’ve gone from being basically unknown to ranking highly on Google. We have repeat customers and, my personal favourite, we have people recommending our work to their customers and friends.
Well done on a first good year! I always hear that recommendations are the best form of advertising / marketing and I really think that’s true: it’s free, and in my experience, someone who’s been recommended to use you is more likely to convert into a paying customer than someone who finds you randomly or responds to an advert. I look forward to catching up with the world of cabling in a year’s time (I used to work for a cable phone/TV company: I wonder if I can still install a phone from the main hub through all the boxes into the person’s house!)
Rob didn’t provide any further updates after this first interview. It appears that the company has now been dissolved. We wish Rob the best in his future endeavours.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my new book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.