This post is the first in the series of our ‘Guest Articles’ which aims to inspire students. The series uses influential Entrepreneurs that personally write posts for the Enterprise Academy. This week’s post is by Liam Saunders, managing director of VIP IT.
If someone had told me that I would be in business while I was at Secondary School or Sixth Form, I would not have believed them. Nevertheless, that is where I am today. Although I had entrepreneurial ambitions from a young age, I believed that I was destined for a conventional career. For me, my entrepreneurial intentions became clear while I was studying for my bachelors degree in business management. After learning how to run a business, I decided that instead of helping someone else to make money I wanted to make money for myself.
My first lesson in business and advice to you is to embrace new things even if you are not entirely comfortable with them. My current business started when a property business asked me if I could build a website for them, at the time I was far from being an experienced digital marketing professional but I accepted the challenge and my experience of digital marketing began. Today, I have my own digital marketing company called VIP IT, which helps businesses across Hampshire and beyond grow online. This demonstrates how an unlikely request can kick-start an entrepreneurial career.
Since starting VIP IT, I have encountered a number of challenges including running and growing a business while studying full-time for a Masters degree. During the course of studying for this, I quickly learnt my second lesson – that you must be organised. In business you are frequently working under tight time pressures and against an ever more daunting schedule, failing to plan will lead to failure. I started to plan my entire week in advance; on a Sunday evening I review my tasks for the week and allocate blocks of time to complete them. This is something that I still do today; I have found it to be incredibly effective as I start each week with a strong sense of focus.
Finally, I return to the issue of someone not paying for your work, this is something that I encountered early in my journey and at first I did not know what to do. In response to this, I did what every entrepreneur should when they do not know something; I sought advice from someone already in business. They advised me that I should keep trying to contact the company via email and phone; and if they do not respond to this that I visit the business to ask for payment. Visiting that company was by far the most daunting thing that I have had to do since being in business. However, it taught me two very valuable lessons – firstly, that you need to strictly enforce the payment of invoices and secondly, that if you are serious about entrepreneurship you need to be willing to be uncomfortable.