The number of new business start-ups is rising significantly as more and more people are opting to be their own bosses. They take the biggest risks . . …entrepreneurs. Here, we talk to two local ones; James Harris and Matt Haythornthwhite, writes Barry Hook
Risk is a word which figures highly in the life of any entrepreneur. So too is the word ‘reward’ because if our entrepreneur does a good job at keeping all the plates spinning, he should be passing ‘GO’ regularly and collecting his money.
Risks are too much of a danger for the majority of us but the willingness to embrace them is what separates the bulk of us from the risk-takers; the entrepreneurs.
Matt Haythornthwaite from Macclesfield is one such risk taker. He had worked his way up to the position of general manager of one of the country’s flagship dealerships in the town, selling luxury brands such as Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz.
When faced with redundancy, instead of taking a similar position with another car dealership – a position he could have walked into – he started to look for an opportunity where he knew his skills could flourish to build his own business.
That’s also what James Harris did in Knutsford where he has just set-up Cheshire Brick Letting & Management. His idea, he told us, was to create the only purely lettings agency in the town and the only agent offering a bespoke service. That makes James’ company unique so little wonder that it is becoming well known in the area.
As for Matt, he didn’t rush into things after his redundancy. He spent a period doing market research before creating Aquatec – his own company in which he could put to use all the skills in customer service which he had used when running a top-end car dealership.
Aquatec is a service business offering all things to do with water cleaning technology. Aquatec Window Cleaning Services offers regular pure water window cleaning as well as conservatory and fascia cleaning.
Aquatec External Services looks after driveway and patio cleaning including decking as well as gutter cleaning. And when we spoke to Matt he had just launched Aquatec Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning Service.
He told us he was investing £18,000 – another risk for our new entrepreneur – in the latest equipment and pure water cleaning techniques to ensure an eco-friendly and stunning result.
The machinery Matt has bought was specially designed and built in the USA and is classed as top of the range in terms of performance and is capable of both carpet and upholstery cleaning and hard floor cleaning too. “That’s another area we will be moving into during this year,” he says.
Whilst Matt now has over 5-year’s experience in risk taking as boss of his own group of companies, James Harris is a relative newcomer, having taken the plunge last year.
He completed his A-levels at Knutsford Academy, passing them all with very good grades. He studied information technology & communication, media studies and graphic design. Already his studies have paid off. “I was not only able to design all the artwork for my company, Cheshire Brick Lettings & Management but, also, to maintain the technology side of Cheshire Brick including developing the website without outside assistance.”
He has also worked for a local building company, Tatton Build, in his spare time for the last 3 years. This has made it easier, he maintains, for him to now run the maintenance side of Cheshire Brick, where he deals with the day to day upkeep of properties.James and Nicky Harris
Once Cheshire Brick was set up James took on a partner, Nicky Harris, who has 18-year’s experience in the lettings industry. Both James and Nicky live and work in Knutsford. It’s this local knowledge which enables Cheshire Brick to offer a property finder service with development opportunities for landlords and property developers.
In creating Cheshire Brick, James saw an opportunity which others did not recognise enabling him to both meet an unsatisfied demand and to radically improve upon the service available in the area.
He has an unquenchable self-belief that his new company can be made real, through hard work, commitment and the adaptability to continue learning along the way.
“The business name took a long time to create,” he says. “Much thought was given to other alternatives but eventually the name Cheshire Brick Lettings & Management was chosen as this registers easily with clients being the name of a well-known local building product.”
He says that the main hurdle in establishing the business was trying to stand out from the other estate agents in the area. James overcame this by making the company very user friendly. It also has the unique selling point of being the only purely lettings agents in Knutsford and the only agent offering a bespoke service.
Meanwhile in Macclesfield, when establishing the Aquatec companies, the biggest challenge Matt has overcome has been that of constantly delivering a high level of customer satisfaction and service. “Another challenge that faces all businesses is cash flow and capital investment. But as I say – we only deal with nice people and nice people always pay!” he says. Close financial controls have ensured that the business has never had a bed debt . . . customers are obviously happy with the service.
Over in Knutsford, James tells us that the Cheshire Brick success story is due to a proactive, modern vision enabling them to become more successful every day in a market where older established agents are finding it hard to compete.
James’ short term vision is to dominate the market in Knutsford. His long term plan is to roll out his business plan across the country.
You just cannot stop entrepreneurs taking risks.
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