Blue10: Thomas Boyd
Thomas Boyd started his business from the kitchen table
Thomas Boyd’s father ran a business with a turnover of over £10 million, but his own entrepreneurial quest started on a laptop from his kitchen table. Name: Thomas Spencer Wilson Boyd Age: 29 Business type: Media Headhunting – Business Consultancy Business name: Blue 10 Number of employees: 8 Turnover: £500,000 What made you take the plunge and startup your own business? Realising that I would always feel unfulfilled as a follower. I wanted to lead. Also realising that if I got it right, every aspect of my life would improve.
At what age did you decide to go it alone? 26
Where did the idea for your business come from? I worked in a large recruiment firm and saw how much money they made doing the job in a poor fashion, and simply realised that we could provide a service that would be better.
How long did it take from your startup idea to your first day trading? Six weeks.
How much did it cost to startup your business? £9.000
Where did you get the funding to start your business? My business partner Steven Allcock and I both put in equal amounts borrowed from our families. The business started from a laptop on a kitchen table, but we had already made placements and generated revenue before generating overheads.
Did you have help from friends and family? Yes, constant support from friends and family. Friends gave us as many leads and contacts as they could, and we set about networking furiously. My father also ran his own business for 30 years, in deep sea fishing and with a turnover of £10 million per annum. Although London media and Atlantic cod may seem world’s apart, the business principals are the same whatever you do. His advice especially was always insightful, calm and straight to the point. What academic qualifications did you get? Ten GCSEs, three A Levels, and a degree from Newcastle University in Ancient History and Sociology.
Did they help you and if not then what course would have helped you? Lots of things have helped me to be a successful business partner, not just the academic side of my past. I captained a lot of rugby sides with people from very different backgrounds, which was helpful in a ‘people business’ like ours. However, I would have liked to have done a course in business studies or economics. That way i wouldn’t have to ask Steve so many questions!
What jobs did you do before you started your own business? I played professional rugby, worked in advertising, and also for the family company, Boyd Line, before moving to London to work for a large recruitment company.
Did they help you? Absolutely. Each period of my working life taught me lessons that have been invaluable in running blue10. You learn from positive and negative experiences, and some of the most valuable lessons I learnt were how not to do business. As General Rommel said: “I am not interested in learning from my mistakes, I want to learn from other people’s.”
What skills and personal characteristics do you need to start your own business? In terms of skills, it’s important to be a good numbers person; someone who understands tax, and accountancy. With regards to characteristics, and without going on for too long, i would say the 4 D’s: Dedication, Discipline, Devotion and Desire. Apply these honestly to a good business idea and you should make it happen.
Tell us about your website Our website – www.blue10.net – has been a useful addition to our business. I designed it in a day with a friend. 90% of our business is generated though phone calls, but we wanted a website that reflected the ethos of the business; dynamic, efficient, smooth, energetic and approachable. it is important for us to have a smartly functioning, aesthetically-pleasing public face for clients.
What’s the single most important thing that helped your business succeed? Our determination, and the quality of our team.
How many hours a week do you work now? It really depends, it can be anything from 4 to 7 days a week .
How many hours a week did you work when you started? Around 45 hours a week What has been your main business problem? Cash flow.
Was there ever a time when you thought you were close to failing – and what did you do to overcome that? Yes. We took an honest look at ourselves, weighed up our strengths and weaknesses and how the business was configured, decided we were on the right track and worked harder.
What is your top tip to anyone wanting to startup his or her own business? Make sure that your team/partner compliment you. Steve and I are very different but as a whole we cover pretty much the whole spectrum of what our business needs to be successful. Don’t just concentrate on the stuff you enjoy, either. Make sure you have all your bases covered and read as much as you can on business startups.
Is there anything you would do differently today? I would have started a year earlier. Where do you see your business in a year’s time? Larger, stronger, generating more revenue and still providing the best possible service for our clients.
Are your main ambitions financial (to make a lot of money) or lifestyle based (to enjoy what you do)? For me, in large part, they go hand-in-hand. But if i had to chose, I’d say the most important thing to me is to enjoy my days. When the business runs well, life is good.
Would you start another business? Absolutely, and we are always looking for good ideas. For example, an arm that we’ve added to Blue10 is business consultancy to startups.