Tony’s journey with business start-up programme Outset began when his former employer seemed to be using the “recession excuse” as time for a break. “It wasn’t hard to see the writing on the wall”, explains Tony, “and I had no intention of sitting about doing nothing, so I started to think about finding my own work.”
After visiting his local Jobcentre, Tony was signposted to Outset Cornwall for support in setting up as a self-employed electrician. “I am very open minded, so when Outset was recommended, I wanted to find out what it had to offer.”
Pleased with what he learned that first week, Tony signed up with Outset Cornwall’s Newquay group, taking full advantage of what was, he says, an informative, very flexible and plain English approach to business skills learning.
“Outset has introduced me to business learning, from sales and marketing to management and finance, in a way that really sticks. So much so, that many of these new skills have found their way into my daily life and become second nature to me.”
Tony’s new business, Newquay Home Electrics was launched in November 2009, offering a full range of electrical services, including PAT testing, inspection and testing and quality installations, as well as advice on all matters electrical. This company has now been rebranded Cornwall Electricians and is covering the whole of the county.
When Tony’s application for a grant from Outset Cornwall was successful, he was able to further equip the business, to take on much larger projects and consequently expand the business further. “I bought a chasing machine and a power drill which both allowed me to take on larger projects. I also bought a laptop and electrical testing instrument which together allowed me to run a slicker, more professional business.”
Early in his business planning phase, Tony had envisaged future expansion into renewables, an area particularly close to his heart. Within a year, Cornwall Solar Panels was launched, creating further opportunities for growth and job creation.
“Thanks to great advice and ongoing support from Outset advisors, I found some very constructive ways to ensure my companies remain busy. Using networking and local advertising – and taking care to target appropriate opportunities for new business – I managed to generate enough trade not only for myself, but also to bring in sub-contractors so that I could dedicate some time to expanding the business.”
Tony now employs his own staff, including an operations manager, two full time electricians and electrical manager, two site surveyors, two roofers and a full time administrator.
And with such rapid development, he is now taking part in Outset Cornwall’s Stage 4 post-start workshops, where the focus is on making it through the first critical two years, to develop a strong and growing business.
“In the same way that the start-up advisors ensured the success of my businesses when it was just me, Outset’s Stage 4 Coaching is helping to grow my confidence in my own ability to steer my businesses for growth.”
Already projecting a turnover of almost £1million next year, Tony remains ambitious to grow further. “We are now making plans for the further expansion of both businesses, with some very exciting ideas to bring more services to the market.
“It’s very simple, I could not have achieved a quarter of what I have if it wasn’t for the whole Outset programme.
“The ideas that the Outset advisors have are incredible. I have implemented many of them with great success – and still have a long list to work through! Outset has certainly helped to fill my diary and I’m really looking forward to working with them, as I expand my businesses further in the future.”
To confirm his success Tony recently won the the 2011 Hub Awards for the Best New Business at a recent business awards ceremony held in Newquay Cornwall.