I personally have over 40 years’ experience in exporting agricultural machinery to the African, Middle East and Far East/Asia Pacific markets.

This has involved managing international market surveys to determine the viability of establishing new markets for a Manufacturer’s products and identifying the various routes to export markets.

I have also worked as Managing Director for an SME Company and I am well aware of the advice SME companies need when entering export markets for the first time. I have also helped SME companies to identify government grants for export sales development and project funding. This has included advice and direction at Director level for the implementation of sales and financial forecasting along with new product information.

I am also an Accredited Associate of the Institute for Independent Business (IIB) which helps SME companies with all types of business issues.

Our 7 Questions

1 ) When did you realise you wanted to go into business for yourself?

September 2009

2 ) Were you confident you would succeed or were you nervous of failing?

A bit of both

3 ) Did you seek advice from your family or friends? Did anyone close to you suggest it was a bad idea to go into business for yourself or did you receive a lot of support?

Yes – I joined the Institute for Institute for Independent Business which had a lot of members who had become independent consultants and so I had the benefit of their experiences and I also talked to friends for their advice. I found most people were very happy to provide advice.

4 ) What was the biggest obstacle you had to face and overcome in order to start your business?

Cold calling potential customers – very little response from companies in Agricultural Engineering

5 ) Do you remember your first customer and can you recall how you felt when you delivered what they were prepared to pay you for?

TATA Engineering in India. A project involving a survey of markets interested in importing TAFA products in to their markets. Great to be paid for something I enjoyed doing!

6 ) What would be the ONE thing you would do differently and where do you see your business in five years’ time?

Avoid of cold calling. Have a good supply of warm contacts and never give up! Hopefully providing me with sufficient income to work a 3-day week.4 day weekends are great!

7 ) What would be your advice to any start up or to anyone thinking of going into business for themselves?

Be totally fed up with Corporate life and have sufficient income to survive for a year or two before drawing a salary from the business. Have a passion for running the business the way you want to.

We would like to thank Paul Baskerville for submitting this article for our readers!