The Resource Broker: Steve Christian
Steve Christian realised there are few places where buyers and suppliers can meet. His new firm aims to change that
Steve Christian realised that there was no single market place that brought buyers and suppliers together, this is why he hopes his business the Resource Broker could be set for success.
Name: Steve Christian Age: 34 Business: The Resource Broker Type of business: Online business services marketplace Start date: Launched May 2005
When did you first decide you wanted to start your own business? Running a business has always been my ultimate aim. But I also understood very early on the importance of gaining direct industry experience first, which I could then apply to my own ideas.
Tell us about your businessThe Resource Broker is a business services marketplace bringing buyers and suppliers together. It is designed to save businesses time and costs when buying services and outsourcing projects, jobs and tasks. It also provides suppliers with free business leads. Membership and use of the site is free and available to businesses of all sizes and in all industry sectors.
Was it your first business idea and where did it come from?No, I’ve had thousands of ideas over the years, but most of them were terrible. The idea for The Resource Broker is based on experiences I had while working within a blue chip, two smaller businesses (one of which was a start-up), and as a contractor. In all cases I found there was no existing marketplace where buyers and suppliers could meet and trade. It was the simplicity of the idea that appealed.
What makes you think there’s a market for your business? All businesses need to buy services and therefore the idea of a business services marketplace that brought buyers and suppliers together seemed to be a great idea from the outset. I sought feedback from relevant organisations and people in industry and the feedback I received was very positive.
Once you’d decided to start a business, what did you do first? I realised I needed to increase my skills and experience. I enrolled in an MBA and then worked for three years in IT. I think you need both the theory and the practice. Although my role now is not IT focussed, my business is internet based, and I believe you need to understand how your business works from the ground up in order to really make it a success. I then waited for a good business idea to come along.
What research did you do? In the first instance I researched the companies that would be most likely to find The Resource Broker’s services useful – companies that buy and outsource many services. Then I contacted the managing directors and technical directors to gauge their response to my initial idea. The feedback was great, with around seventy percent being very positive.
What advice did you seek? The best advice I received came from people already running successful enterprises, as they could guide me towards the methods that work and steer me away from those that don’t. I also did a brief business planning course organised by the Prince’s Trust and I spoke with the local Business Link advisor.
What other help did you get? I received some useful advice from business advisors at Lancaster University and Lancashire Business School.
Does the government need to provide more help to people trying to start a business? If so, what should they do? Ultimately, however much help or guidance the government provides the question of whether a business succeeds or fails comes down to the perseverance of the individuals concerned.
Talk us through the process of writing your business plan. I learnt the fundamentals from reading books, on business courses and I sought advice from business advisors.
How useful has your business plan been and do you think you’ll stick to it as your business begins to grow? The business plan was very useful in terms of gaining investment as it forces you to analyse how it will actually work in black and white. It’s the time when it stops being an idea and becomes an action. The business plan has evolved greatly as we’ve brought it to market and more and more people have come on board and contributed ideas. The original plan has evolved to incorporate a business model that provides our members with a wider range of clear benefits, from the simplicity of using The Resource Broker to find suppliers, to the cost and time-saving benefits.
How much did it cost to start the business?I sought an investor to provide the infrastructure required, from marketing and IT expertise to office space and administration.
Are you working from home or from premises? We have an office with all the necessary resources.
How many hours are you working at the moment?The Resource Broker is very much a full time job.
How are you managing your day and what steps have you taking to ensure you’re able to get everything done without working around the clock?Again it’s self-discipline, just as you need the motivation to put in hard days work every morning, you also need to know when to switch off and relax, as being tired and stressed does not help anyone.
What about staff, is it just you? We have a full team in place now – IT, marketing, PR, admin. We are currently growing the sales function also.
Is the amount of red tape that comes with taking on an employee something that concerns you? If it is, what will you do about it? The important thing is the value that the employee brings to the company. If the person contributes a lot to your business any amount of red tape is worth it.
What marketing and advertising have you done so far? We’ve launched across the UK and engage in regular marketing and PR campaigns. Much of our advertising and marketing budget is spent online, due to the nature of our business.
Where do you hope to be in 12 months time? I hope that we will have built on our position as the leading UK business services marketplace and have many more happy clients.
What are the main obstacles to growth?The biggest obstacle to growth is awareness of The Resource Broker – a high percentage of visitors to our site register, so our focus is on driving more people to the site.
What are your main ambitions, to make a lot of money or enjoy what you do? To enjoy what I do and spend as much time as possible with my family.
What have you found difficult about starting up and what do you wish you’d done differently? Starting a business has been an emotional rollercoaster – there are good days and bad days but I just continue believing in myself. What skills and personal characteristics do you need to start your own business? A strong belief in yourself and a supporting family.
So what advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting a business? Believe in yourself and be prepared for the good times and bad times too. Don’t give up – you make your own luck.