Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mike Maynard, Owner of Napier Partnership Limited, located in Chichester, West Sussex, UK.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are an integrated PR and marketing agency that works with business-to-business technology clients. We help companies in industries ranging from semiconductors to industrial automation systems raise awareness and market their products to other businesses. Our clients are some of the largest global companies in the world in their sectors, including Microchip Technology, ABB, and Nokia.
Tell us about yourself
I started my career as an electronics engineer but realised that I most enjoyed discussing the application of new products and technologies, so I moved into marketing. I spent several years working for a semiconductor company as their European marketing manager but then heard that the owners of the agency I used were looking to sell the business. As the saying goes, I liked the agency so much that I bought it!
I love being able to help companies develop marketing strategies and then see those campaigns deliver results that measurably affect the bottom line. In particular, I enjoy working with them to speed up the customer journey for their prospects, something that is not only good for our clients but also helps their customers too.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Although I had grown the agency to now be more than 5x bigger than when I acquired it and opened an office in the US, my biggest accomplishment was surviving the dot-com crash. I bought the agency a couple of weeks before the crash in 2001, and it was the worst time ever to own a technology agency. When you couple this with my lack of experience in agencies and the fact that it was the first business I had run, surviving this traumatic time was definitely the biggest accomplishment and has laid the foundations on which later achievements were built.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things is the feeling that it's all down to you. Whether it's sleepless nights worrying over whether you can keep everyone employed or having to make difficult investment decisions, the buck stops with the managing director/owner. I've been able to deal with this by being part of an agency network that allows me to discuss the issues I can't talk about with the rest of the team with other agency owners.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Ideas are easy; execution is difficult: if you run a business, you'll probably have a lot of ideas. But the challenge is not thinking up ideas; it's putting in the effort to make them a reality.
- Everyone has challenges when running a business: even when you see people who appear to be sailing along without any problems, they are likely to be struggling with many issues. Don't feel that you are the only one with problems, and find people with whom you can talk and get advice.
- Control the controlables: this is advice that was given to me by my speed skating coach. There are things that you can't control, and the best thing is to accept them and worry about what you can impact.
- (Bonus tip!) Don't buy a technology agency two weeks before the dot-com crash! Actually, this is not as outdated as it might seem because what I am really saying is that timing matters a lot in business, often more than the quality of your ideas.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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