The Business Owner: Miles Waghorn, TechSilver

The Nottingham-based entrepreneur talks to is4profit about building "a brand of trust", and has advice for business owners who want to export

The Business Owner: Miles Waghorn, TechSilver

Name: Miles Waghorn
Company: TechSilver
Location: Nottingham
Proposition: Improving later lifestyle through technology.
Size: Small

How is your business different from what’s already out there?

Not only do we provide a unique range of technology specifically designed to make life easier, safer and more enjoyable for senior citizens, not found anywhere else, but our levels of impartial expert customer service are very difficult to get hold of in modern retail, especially in ecommerce.

We also have a website that’s been designed from the ground up to be easy to use for older people, especially with sensory impairment.

How did you finance your business?

I received a grant from the EDF (Europen Development Fund) through the ‘Enterprise Inc.’ programme, this money was set aside by the EU to help develop the East Midland’s economy. I also received a small grant from my university at the time (Nottingham Trent).

What is the most important thing to keep track of in business and why?

Time. It’s very easy to drift along day by day getting distracted from the main focus, before you know it months have flown past and you’re no closer to that target. Make organised lists and plough through them every day. Ask yourself if this task working towards my main objectives?

What is the biggest day-to-day challenge you face?

Having too many tasks to do and not enough time to do them in, perhaps that ‘no-man’s land’ between needing another member of staff because you’re spending your time in (operating) the business, not on (growing) the business, and being unsure if you’ve got the cash flow to pay them.

What marketing techniques do you use to attract new customers?

Providing useful and interesting content that people really want to read, building a brand identity of trust and reliability. People will come back to someone that’s provided them something of value.

Do you think it’s important for small businesses to export, any tips?

It’s becoming more important, but not essential. I think some companies might focus too heavily on exporting from the early days when they’re not even close to dominating their section of the UK market. You’ve got to learn to walk before you can run.

Tips include working alongside UKTI to calculate the best foreign markets for your business. If you’re an ecommerce store, then features like ‘WebInterperet’ automatically translate your site and create a localised domain in many countries around the world. This is a free service for some PayPal customers!

What’s the business app you couldn’t do without?

Google Voice Search / My Google. With the clever GPS technology inside, verbal actions like ‘Remind me to call my suppliers when I leave the office’ or ‘Set a reminder to contact the printers at 3:45PM’ are instantly saved, meaning you can get on with the more important things!

Describe your company’s culture in three words:

Honest, knowledgeable and helpful.

What would you like the government to do for small business?

Make the procurement process more accessible for small businesses to access public service contracts. The amount of bureaucracy and red tape a firm has to wade through to tender means it’s normally left to the big boys, even if they may not provide a better service or price.

Who’s your biggest small and medium enterprise hero?

My biggest small enterprise hero is Carole Harvey, my mentor. She’s the ex FD of Boots and has helped me immensely in my business journey. My big business idol is a bit of a cliché, but has to be Richard Branson, I agree with many of his viewpoints and admire his ‘The sky’s the limit’ attitude.

Where do you want the business to be in three years?

Shipping out large quantities of orders from our own warehouse facility, with expansions in our growing projects. e.g. technology tutoring and in-home set up.

What’s your top tip for keeping it lean and making profit?

Use advertising and marketing methods that link well with your strengths, like writing guest articles for people and providing useful content that I mentioned earlier, this is a great way to generate leads without breaking the bank.

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