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How to start your own business: learn from the best

Write a business and marketing plan
Escape the nine-to-five world by branching out on your own. It may be hard at first but the pay-offs can make it well worth it.

Entrepreneurial Australians, Kiwis and South Africans are making waves in London with their own businesses involving everything from making furniture to makeovers.

These budding directors usually form their ventures on one of two basis – that they believe they can offer better than what’s currently on offer, or they’ve identified a gap in a market.

Stephanie Beitzel is the founder of Aussiepreneurs, an organisation that supports and celebrates Australian entrepreneurs the world over.

Beitzel says that once wannabe entrepreneurs have taken the first step in the UK, “then there’s that feeling of wanting to take over the world.”

She adds :“But there is a revolving door aspect. After they’ve overcome obstacles such as getting credit in the UK to get a business off the ground, they create jobs for British people. Aussie entrepreneurship may not be massive just yet, but it’s bubbling under the radar and boy-oh-boy, is it big!”

We meet a few who are taking London by the horns.

Winter Sports Guru

Hayley Melidonis
32, from Sydney.
Company name: Total Heliski
Founded: December 2009
What is it? A winter sports company providing access to remote adventure destinations and heliski, catski and ski touring operations across the world.
How it happened: After trying heliskiing in Alaska, I saw an opportunity to start a company offering reliable, informed advice.
Turnover: A 500 per cent increase in bookings since last year.
If I knew then what I know now: I’d Factor in the full complexity and cost of building a great website as it’s the face of your brand and costly if you get it wrong.
» See totalheliski.com

The Souvenir Guy

David McLagan
30s, from Melbourne.
Company: Tosh
Founded: 2006
What is it? We produce stylish, fun, yet still affordable, London souvenirs.
How it happened? We saw that souvenirs, particularly in London, were horrible, cheap tat so we created a collection of original and intelligent products.
Turnover: £500,000.
If I knew then what I knew now: I’d have started earlier in the UK. Trading in retail at the moment is very tough and a VAT increase isn’t going to help.
» See thelondoncompany.net

Personal and Professional Consultant

Rachel Lynch

From Palmerston North, NZ
Company: Personal Best Colour and Image Consultancy
Founded: 2007
What is it? I assess people’s professional and personal situation and help them create an appropriate image.
How it happened: I was dissatisfied in print production, so after consulting a career coach I transfered my awareness of colour and detail to helping people look and feel good.
If I knew then what I know now: I’d write a business and a marketing plan first.
» See personalbest-image.co.uk

Expat Expert

Reg Bamford
43, from Cape Town.
Company: 1st Contact
Founded: 1995
What is it? Financial, immigration and professional services to SMEs, high net worth individuals and expats in the UK.
How it happened: After three years in the City as a chartered accountant I wanted to run my own business and harness my knowledge to assist young South Africans arriving in London.
Turnover: £23m p/a.
If I knew then what I know now: I’d have hired an entrepreneur to advise me.
» See 1stcontact.com

Serial Entrepreneur

You might recognise Tim Oberg from TV’s Dragon’s Den, where he pitched his celebrity tours enterprise, Celebrity Planet London, to four merciless judges.

The pitch fell flat on its face but Oberg, 32, who describes himself as a “finger in the pie kinda guy” had plenty more up his sleeve.

In his first foray into entrepreneurship 10 years ago, he ran weekend tours to Europe and boat parties under the company name Tim The Tourman.

“My first-ever tour was to Berlin with 30 people – 10 were my mates. I never ran it thinking it could be a business, but I had people asking me when the next one was and I thought, ‘hang on I’m onto something’.”

Oberg also ran Monopoly pub crawls under the company name, Wicked Pub Crawls, once breaking a Guinness World Record for amassing 2000 punters for a single crawl. He’s now  focusing on an active escapes business.

A word of advice from the serial entrepreneur: “You’ve got to get your books in order from the word go because playing catch-up is too hard.”

» See globalactivegroup.com


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