Business and more importantly managing a business is amongst the most interesting and rewarding aspects of my life. I have owned and managed many businesses including in the late 1980s a computer business called One Stop Ltd and in the late 1990s a loft conversion company, motor repairs and moto bike restoration garage and I have even had a market stall selling second hand electrical goods bought out of the London warehouses as returns from the large retailers. In more recent years 1994 I managed IMP and Safety Matters a “not for profit” enterprise based in Humberside and London providing safety management to the Voluntary sector.
Of course since 2004 I have owned and managed two Safety Training companies. I sold my 50% holdings in the Health and Safety Training company ltd back in 2011 and as part of that deal kept the specialist arm of the business, Specialist Vocational Training Ltd, SVT.
Looking back over the 25 years or so I have learned a great deal about business and what works and what does not work. Many business leaders often tell us of some rules they work by and in the same sentence tell us when they ignore these rules because the rules do not apply. One of the leading business owners in the UK, Duncan Walker Bannatyne said that “don’t start a business looking for profit, start a business to provide a high quality of service/goods, profits will follow”. I read this in 2010 and built SVT Ltd on this concept.
A business must make a profit of course otherwise it will fail and those employed will move on. But does a business have to grow in terms of its market share? This is s question that I deal with every year. It is true to say that SVT Ltd has grown in terms of its turnover from £350,000 in 2011 to £1 million forecast for 2016 and very much on target. Growth means more staff, bigger premises and generally higher running costs. It would be true to say that in our business the greater the number of students the higher the costs of running the business. The main reason for this is our Student Support department which is the back bone of the business as our staff in this department have a main duty to ensure that each student is treated as an individual and that the student’s success is paramount. Every other department must ensure that we maintain our high quality of service and this means adding further resources. In 2011 we had six staff and now May 2016 we have 18 staff and have added specialist contractors to support what we do. In our case, SVT, the continuing improvements in quality of service means higher investment. This is my first rule of business ensuring that whatever we do we do it to the highest level of quality.
If you are considering starting a business keep this rule in mind at every stage. You like me, will have other business rules to guide you however nothing is, in my opinion, more important than ensuring that you deliver a great service every step of the way.
Mike Watson CEO SVT Ltd Dip RSA CMIOSH MIIRSM FinLM