Starting up your own business can be both rewarding and challenging. We caught up with Craig Dessoy, who set up Bathroom Heaven in 2002. Now employing 22 people and enjoying 15 per cent year-on-year growth, Craig knows what it takes to succeed in business. We asked him how he’s done it…
What made you decide to work for yourself?
I wanted to run my own business ever since I was a teenager, but it wasn’t until I hit 30 that I had the courage to make the jump. There is something incredibly exciting about being in charge of your own destiny.
In the world of business the possibilities really are limitless, the only limitations are your own imagination, ingenuity and ability. We can’t all be Richard Branson, but so long as you are growing your profit – then you’re on that road. The road itself is an interesting one. No two days are the same. In an average day you could be doing any of networking, recruiting, people-managing, strategic planning, marketing, financial management and so on.
As the business grows and you take on more people you start to create and mould a culture, and the organisation kind of becomes an extension of you. For me business is a hobby, it’s not just a means of paying the bills.
Money is secondary, it’s the rollercoaster ride, the potential, the depth of different human interactions, the achievements, the pride and the pain – those are the things that make me get out of bed in the morning.
What are your top 3 dos and don’ts for following a small business path?
- Always believe in yourself, even in the bad times. Every problem has a solution – you just have to find it.
- Stay focused. Avoid trying to do too many things. Find something that works and then put everything into that.
- Invest in and look after good people. Having a low staff turnover and a motivated and happy workforce is one of the key ingredients for success.
- Don’t borrow money, unless it’s against a tangible asset that you can easily turn back into cash if you need to.
- Don’t let your overheads get out of control. Ensure you can cover them even in a bad month. I use a daily cash flow forecast spreadsheet, which goes out at least 6 months, and I assume sales expectations at the lower end.
- Don’t keep hold of stuff that could be delegated to someone else. For me this has always been one of the biggest challenges, since as the business owner you think you know how everything should be done. In order to grow you have to become good at delegating.
What are your tips for keeping your team motivated?
- Be approachable and immerse yourself in the team along with the day-to-day running of the business.
- Good people are hard to replace. Make them feel valued and pay more than the market rate.
- Financially motivate your staff to help you grow your profit by recognising their efforts. I currently do this with an annual bonus scheme based on gross profit.
- Create friendly competition between different parts of the business. We use an escalating sales commission structure for sales staff, and have divided the company into profit centres for the separate profit-related bonus scheme.
- In my experience, reviewing performance against objectives quarterly is important for staff motivation and development.
- Encourage feedback. Show you value your team’s opinions by encouraging them to let you know if you’re doing something right or wrong instead of keeping it to themselves.
What advice would you give yourself if you were 21 again?
I would have told myself to start in business then, rather than spend 10 years working for other people first. In my experience, you do make a lot of mistakes in the early years and spend a lot of time with your head in your hands. But you also learn fast. Life is short, and I wish I’d got all that stuff out the way in my 20s.