The Business Owner: Jonathan Bird, Warehouse Dating Ltd

The founder tells us why one of the most challenging – and important – aspects of running a business is managing your staff

The Business Owner: Jonathan Bird, Warehouse Dating Ltd

Founders: Jonathan Bird
Location: Guildford, United Kingdom
Proposition: Online Dating
Size: Worldwide

How did you finance your business?

I raised my own start-up capital. It was a tough call at the start of the venture but now I’m so glad I did it. It’s a fantastic position to be in where we don’t owe a penny to anyone.

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

In my mind, that’s simple. Finances. If you’ve got a clear idea of what’s coming in and out you’ll be much better equipped to make informed decisions. When you are doing well, it’s time to make sure you are expanding in the right way. When you’re facing tougher times, you need to make immediate decisions to stay on course.

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

I think it’s all about my people. I’m not saying they are a challenge (actually my team are some of the finest people I’ve ever worked with). But when you add more people to any organisation, they each bring with them a unique set of skills and sometimes challenges. As their line manager, it’s my responsibility to look after them.

You’d be amazed by how much time is taken by people. Get it right and you are onto a winner.

What marketing techniques do you use to attract new customers?

I’m a huge adapter of social media. During the journey, we’ve tried many different networks and tools and sifted through to find which ones work for us.

It’s fair to say that the best marketing tool is your customers and their recommendations, which is why 80% of our marketing budget is spent on social.

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

Very, a sale is a sale and sometimes you’ve got to go further afield to get it. I’d recommend joining your local Chambers of Commerce who will be able to help with exporting questions. It’s important to do it. It’s important to get it right.

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

I use three day to day apps.

  • Freeagent – which is out accounting software. It’s invaluable and simple to do.
  • BBC news – might sound silly but reading a couple of business articles in the morning helps focus me for the day ahead.
  • Twitter – OK technically it’s not a business app, but you try to not ask someone a direct question like “Would you like to do business?” when you’ve only got 140 characters to use.

Describe your company’s culture in three words:

Creative, Deliberate and Fun

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

I think the greatest thing the government could do is invest in one centralised website where all the information can be found. I’m always attending different courses and seminars which all have their own identity (sometimes contradicting another government body).

I’m an engaged business owner and I find it hard. It’s a minefield out there.

Who’s your biggest small and medium enterprise hero?

It’s hard to pick just one person. Lots of people have given me inspiration and great advice during my time. A very good friend of mine, Eye Mayer, is a huge inspiration to me.

Having recently advised NATO on social media, it just goes to show that you can do anything you set your mind to.

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

Growing, and three years after that I want it to be still growing. Only when a business stands still should a director be worried.

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

Don’t spend what you don’t have. Think about your cashflow and consider every action you take. Even having a wasted meeting costs you money so make sure you stay on top of things.

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