Venna Property Finders: Sharon Dziruni
Sharon Dziruni wants to take the stress out of relocations. She tells us how she plans to do it
Sharon Dziruni wants to take the stress out of relocations and hopes her new business, Venna Property Finders, will be the number one way to do it. However, first she has to endure some worries herself as she strives to establish her company in the market.
Name: Sharon Dziruni Age: 28 Business: Venna Property Finders Type of business: Property Search and Relocation Start date: October 2005
When did you first decide you wanted to start your own business? I was born an entrepreneur and grew up in a family where my father ran successful retail businesses. I have had lots of other small businesses in the past. My first business was a placement agency when I was at university.
Tell us about your business.Venna is a premier full service independent property finding and relocation service. We offer professional support to private and corporate clients and their employees who wish to purchase, rent or relocate to Maidstone, Kings Hill and surrounding areas in Kent. I decided to put my international property search and relocation expertise to good effect recognising an increasing demand of people wanting to move to the area
Was your decision to start a business inspired by any other companies or individuals?I have always been thinking of what to do and property is my passion. I hope to build on this business to become a property developer.
What makes you think there’s a market for your business?According to official statistics the population of Maidstone continues to grow by around 1% or just over 1,000 people a year. Some of these new residents are arriving from London, which saw a fall in its population of 116,000 last year alone, with the vast majority choosing to relocate to towns and villages in and around the Home Counties.
Once you’d decided to start a business, what did you do first? I saw a business adviser from Maidstone Chamber of Commerce who suggested doing a simple business plan as my business was so straightforward. I have found online resources more useful as they can be more detailed.
What research did you do?I did research and found that there were no relocation companies based in my area. I further researched on things like how many houses were being sold in the local area and on movement of people within UK. I also used information from the land registry, the national statistics office and Kent property market reports
What advice did you seek? I have spoken to Business Link and Maidstone Chamber of Commerce but what I found most useful were the online resources, particularly business forums like startups.co.uk, where you meet other like-minded people who are very supportive.
Does the government need to provide more help to people trying to start a business?I think the government have to help more start-ups especially with funding as a lot of lenders find start-ups to be more risky.
How useful has your business plan been and do you think you’ll stick to it as your business begins to grow? I am finding I have to keep changing some of the things in my business plan, but it gives me direction of where I have to be going.
How much did it cost to start the business?It cost me about £5000 to have all the things including my marketing budget and web design. I have reduced my costs by working from home
How did you fund this? I funded most of my costs from my own savings and I have now approached the Enterprise Agency for more funding. I first approached my bank, but even though they were helpful they could not provide any funding because of the risks involved in financing start-ups.
Have you stopped working? No, I am doing a gradual transition. At the moment I am working 18 hours per week to support the business. However, I am hoping to stop working soon and be fully self-employed.
Are you working from home or from premises? I have an office set up at home as I go out and visit my clients. This will help me reduce my start up costs. In six months time I hope to move into offices when I plan to have my first employee then
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? My business has taken over my life at the moment, I have put my heart and soul in it. I find it difficult to relax when I know I have work to do. However, I still try and get as much time off as I can during weekends to spend time with my family. I prioritise my workload so I don’t try and do all things at once
Is the amount of red tape that comes with taking on an employee something that concerns you? I have looked into it and I can’t really wait to take on my first. I am not really worried about the red tape. I think if it is done properly with the right advice you can reduce the red tape
What marketing and advertising have you done so far? I am working on my PR at the moment with Alex my PR consultant and I have also done local press advertising. I will also be advertising in some trade magazines and will be exhibiting at some property shows in Feb 2006. I also do a lot of online advertising.
Where do you hope to be in 12 months time? To have built a successful business, employing three people with the business getting stronger.
What are the main obstacles to growth? Being able to market my business successfully at these initial stages is expensive. My market is a niche and therefore advertising tends to be expensive too.
How do you plan to overcome these? By providing an excellent customer service so that we end up getting most of our business from recommendations. I work hard to make sure my customers have a stress free move so this should bring up more business in the future.
Tell us about your website. My website is extremely important as some of my target customers are not living in the local area. It is equally important the way it looks to be able to attract the right type of customers. The process of coming up with my website was easy as the designers had worked with me previously and I knew they did good work
What are your main ambitions, to make a lot of money or enjoy what you do? Of course making money is one of my ambitions but it is not only that. I genuinely believe in helping my people and I want to see lot of happy and satisfied customers. I also hope from the money I make I can also help make a difference to other people’s lives, particularly in Africa
What have you found difficult about starting up and what do you wish you’d done differently? It doesn’t always go the way you expect. Everything seems to trial and error at the moment.
What skills and personal characteristics do you need to start your own business? You need to truly believe in yourself and the business, no matter what other people say. Be hardworking and prepared to put a lot of hours in for what appears originally to be very little return. Have a strong positive approach.
So what advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting a business? Go for it if you genuinely believe in your business. There would be nothing worse than sitting back now and then in a few years time mourning the fact you never did it.