Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Vincent Stevenson, CEO of College of Public Speaking 2006 Ltd, located in London, UK.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I am the CEO of the College of Public Speaking 2006 Ltd. In 2006 I introduced Fear of Public Speaking Courses to the UK. Since then, the company has grown exponentially, and we've developed into Train the Trainer Courses, Leadership and Management Courses, and all things communication.

Tell us about yourself

I came from an IT background working for large banks and energy companies working in all forms of change and configuration management. I like end-to-end processes. They give you an in-depth understanding of the business. Then I moved into programming and became a corporate trainer for Sun Microsystems and Oracle. Running a business is hard work, but it's also great fun. Creating great learning experiences for my students is the top priority. Although I generally work in King's Cross, London, I always embrace the opportunity to travel and widen my knowledge and experience of my students and their cultures. In recent years, I've worked in Malta, Israel/Palestine, The Faroe Islands, Kurdistan, Bangladesh, Mauritius, France, and Spain. When you have interesting and pleasurable work, the motivation flows quite naturally.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I built the business up from scratch. The first year we had a web designer (who did a great job), but then I took over the website, integrating payment systems, redesigning the website, creating a house style for the blog material, writing posts regularly, and occasionally winning awards for the website's achievements. To be on the ground floor of a successful start-up was a wonderful experience, and to be able to use all of my technical and artistic skills in developing the website into what you see today.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

I think the hardest thing was to ask one of our fellow founders to stand down from his position after he became seriously ill. But from a negative situation, something positive happened. We introduced an accountancy package at the back end of the business, which gave us considerable new control over financial decision-making. It was a bitter-sweet situation, but you have to handle the low and high tides when they arise.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Be committed and demonstrate that you and your business are customer-centric. Be prepared to work on the train, in the car, on the bus, and in the evenings. Look after your physical and mental health. Take time out when you need it. When you outsource various aspects of your business, ask your supplier to commit on paper to their responsibilities and timeframes. This will save you disputes further down the line. A salesperson will answer yes, yes, and yes to your questions, but they will not be the person delivering the product/service. Communication across teams/departments isn't always as good as you hope. Hire a reputable accountant. They're worth their weight in gold if you create a close working relationship. Closely follow the accounting schedule, and pay your taxes on time. It saves a lot of time/energy/upset further on.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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