This year, Vonage are proud sponsors of The Duke of York Entrepreneur of the Year award at the 13th annual National Business Awards. This award celebrates the potential that exists within leaders of the UK’s most promising start-ups and as an enabler of UK small and home businesses, Vonage is the perfect partner to support and celebrate Britain’s brightest new business leaders.
Ahead of the awards ceremony set to be take place at London’s Grosvenor Square, Park Lane on the evening of 11th November 2014, we caught up with the five finalists to learn more about their business story and entrepreneurial spirit.
The next to feature is Ben Weaver, owner of Outlook Publishing Ltd, a global publisher of business titles including Africa Outlook, Asia Outlook and European Outlook. The business specialises in offerings for advertisers that deserve the attention of decision-makers, placing their clients directly in the hands of Africa, Asia and Europe’s most influential people.
Ben was kind enough to catch up with us and answer some questions about his experience as a small business entrepreneur.
How did you start out? What was your industry background? Did you identify an opportunity or take a punt?
I have been in the publishing industry for over 12 years and have managed operations for companies in the sector across the UK and Canada. I saw the opportunity to take what I had learned over this period and develop my own ideas into an improved business model. I left my then employer in January 2014 and by March 2014 we were fully operational with a small team. We had been successful in sourcing funding and with new brands for Africa and Asia we set about becoming the best in our industry.
How has your role changed over time? What were your primary responsibilities during the first month/quarter/year?
From the outset I was rolling up my sleeves and getting in the trenches with the troops by making calls, selling advertising and making sure every box was ticked. Over time I have built a strong management team around me allowing me to step away and take a more strategic look at the business and plan our new products and company developments. I still enjoy the grass roots part of running a business such as recruitment and training but have now found I like to think about where we are going next and how we are going to get there.
What was the most difficult aspect of setting up the business? With hindsight, what aspects would you do differently?
The hardest part of setting up the business was controlling my need for everything to be perfect. To make the business what it is today, we took a few wrong turns and made some mistakes and initially I would try and juggle as many plates as were needed to prevent this happening. I have learnt, in hindsight, this is how great companies are built and I now have a much more pragmatic outlook. As long as we learn from mistakes and only make them once I believe they can be a huge part of building a successful business.
Did you attend any expert / networking events to further your expertise and contacts? Is this an on-going process?
To date I have not attended any networking events as such but work very hard to build my contacts and knowledge base via LinkedIn and subscribing to industry papers and reports. Our industry is a fast moving, ever-changing vehicle and to remain at the top means keeping our finger on the pulse and developing with trends and issues.
Read more about Vonage’s partnership with the National Business Awards.