Working in the mergers and acquisitions team at the private bank SG Hambros, Middleton client Will Davies realised, “I didn’t want to be advising people any more. I ran my life forward five years and I decided I wanted to build something myself.”
He did just that.
Hooking up with an old rugby-playing friend, Nick Bizley, the pair founded aspect.co.uk in 2005 with just £13,500 in cash. This year the business will turn over in excess of £15m and is one of London’s biggest property maintenance and refurbishment companies.
They are not relaxing just yet though. “We still don’t call aspect.co.uk as a success, we call it a work in progress. Our initial growth was largely driven by being an early adopter of the internet and PPC advertising. Back in 2005/6 we were paying £1.50 per click and now it can be 10 times that. Now, technology is even more the key to everything we do. Ultimately the engineer must deliver what the client wants to the highest possible standard, but IT is there to assist them every step of the way”.
We put a few more questions to Will.
How many sleepless nights did you have in your first year as an entrepreneur? “I’m lucky enough to be a good sleeper so not as many as I should have had. That said, the 16 hours I was awake were devoted entirely to the business. Within a month I’d resigned from a well-paid stable job, moved house, had our first child and set up a business.”
And what’s keeping you awake currently? “The recent ruling around ‘worker’ vs ‘sub-contractor’ carries some real risk for us. Many of those we always regarded as sub-contractors could fall into the new definition of ‘worker’ – effectively an employee, which changes our model somewhat. We’ll be watching how this plays out.”
What’s happening in your market-place? “The desire of home owners to change and improve their properties shows no signs of easing up. It’s not just about whether people can sell or not, though. People think differently about their homes now and don’t want to let them get tired. Bathrooms in particular have gone crazy.”
Brexit, in a word? “Mistake”
If I were Chancellor, the first three things I’d do would be: “1. Resign – I’d hate to be Chancellor. 2. Overhaul the stamp duty system. 3. Try to find a way to keep us in Europe.”
Favourite business book: “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell.”
Advice: “Entrepreneurs often think the idea is the largest part of the business. But you’ve only got a fabulous idea if you can turn it into a sustainable business that can deliver your ultimate goals.”
Current mission: “We’re building a technology system that will run our business from end to end. Ad spend is such a big cost for us that we need completely traceability from ad to ultimate profit on the job that it generated. It is all about ROI at every stage of the customer journey.”