In Conversation with Sam White

Going it alone. Are you ready to start your own business? 

Northern Power Futures want to say a big thank-you to Jane for conducting this interview with Sam White, of Freedom Services Group. Sam will be attending Northern Power Futures on Friday 25th November, where she will be hosting the Going It Alone session. After you’ve read this blog, and feeling inspired to go it alone yourself, join Sam and 100+ speakers at Northern Power Futures by purchasing your ticket here!

Jane Dalton has managed brand strategy and innovation projects for companies with global brand reach. Jane began her career as an Art Curator and has a First Class MBA from Cambridge University. In 2008 she founded Groundswell Innovation, a company whose specialisms include opportunity identification and strategic planning for innovation, new product/service development and qualitative market research.

You could talk to 50 entrepreneurs and each one would tell a different story.

“I started on my own when I was 21.” “My redundancy payment kicked me in to gear”

“I’d just had enough of working for them.  I knew I could do it better”

Anyone with a decent set of skills, a strong work ethic and preferably also a clear business idea can run their own company.  Sometimes that comes with age, sometimes that comes with the lack of fear that only youth can give you.

As a business owner myself and as a supporter of start-up entrepreneurs, it’s fair to say I’ve heard my fair share of different experiences.

But the story I want to focus on here is about Sam White, CEO of the Action 365 group, Pukka Insure and Freedom Brokers.  Yes, that’s right.  Why start up one company, when you can build an international empire?

Superhuman talents required?

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m in awe of anyone who can start a business at the age of 24 and still be in the ‘same’ business 20 years later.  So, when I met with Sam White a couple of weeks ago, I think I was expecting to meet someone with the ability to walk on water.  Someone with an air of superhuman invincibility about them. On the contrary.  Sam is grounded, extremely open and seemingly lacking in any of the arrogance her talents as a business woman would allow room for.  What Sam has to share is a zig zagging journey into dizzying success.  But it isn’t a story of calm seas and blue skies.   So what can we learn from this award-winning entrepreneur about starting a business?

Advice from 20 years in.

To hear more of Sam’s views about what it takes to go from setting up a business in your sister’s conservatory to running an international business empire, come along to Northern Power Futures on Friday 23rd November where Sam will be hosting a panel discussion about becoming an entrepreneur.

In the meantime, here are a few pointers from Northern Power Women’s 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year, Sam White.

1. If you start a business when you’re young, what have you got to lose?

Responsibilities can be a great way of anchoring yourself to a job or career that pays a decent wage and ‘isn’t that bad’. If you start a business when you only have yourself to take care of, what’s the worst that can happen? If the venture succeeds you win. If it fails, you learn. And you move on to do better next time.

2. By all means write a business plan.

But it’s ok not to have all the answers before you start. And at the point where you need to pluck a figure out of thin air to say how much turnover you’re going to make, remember that you are now in the land of crystal ball gazing. Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity. So ‘projected’ turnover can be more like lunatic prophecy.

3. Work with blinkers on.

Once you have a broad plan in place, don’t obsess about where the money is going to come from 2 years down the line. Focus on making the money you need now, to stay in business this month. Then next month, and for the next quarter.

4. Points of crisis in life, and in business, don’t mean you have failed.

They can sometimes be just the slap in the face you need to put you on a better track. There is no controlling what life throws at you. There is never a ‘good time’ to start out on your own. But there is never really a bad time either. The one thing you have to remember is to keep getting up and moving forward. Personal resilience, wherever you pick it up from, is absolutely essential to staying in business and growing your company.

5. Treat people who work for you as guests in your home.

Make them welcome. Show them you are a good host by treating them with respect and understanding what will make them feel comfortable. It’s probably worth bearing in mind, that this goes deeper than setting up a ping-pong table and buying a couple of bean bags.

Sam White will be hosting a panel discussion at on Friday 23rd November. Get your tickets here.

Article written by Jane Dalton, Creative Catalyst at Groundswell Innovation.

Volunteer Ambassador for Northern Power Women


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