Surrey Business Awards - Andrew Reynolds
As regular readers will know, Surrey Life is sponsoring the Business Person of the Year category at this year's Surrey Business Awards. To find out more, we spoke to last year's winner, Camberley resident and self made multi-millionaire Andrew Rey...
As regular readers will know, Surrey Life is sponsoring the Business Person of the Year category at this year's Surrey Business Awards. To find out more, we spoke to last year's winner, Camberley resident and self made multi-millionaire Andrew Reynolds
Describe your career to date...
Tired of corporate life, I had a chance invitation to attend a seminar in the US being held by a quiet reclusive self made millionaire. Inspired by what I saw, I returned to the UK, handed in my notice at work and started a small business in the spare room of his small three bedroom house on the outskirts of Camberley - using a pre-Pentium computer and an old clackety clack printer that woke the neighbours every time I fired it up!
Eleven years and �30million later, I now run a profitable seminar and conference business and also recently launched the Entrepreneur Channel on channel 682 of Sky's digital platform - selling self improvement and business training materials for aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses. Both businesses are run from my offices in Camberley.
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How did it feel winning last year's Surrey Business Person of the Year at Sandown Park?
It was a complete surprise. Unbeknown to me, several of the charities that I work with, together with some of my own team, had got together to put a nomination forward for the award. It wasn't until one of my guys asked when I would be available to meet the judges that I knew anything about the nomination and I felt deeply honoured that they should even consider that I deserved the nomination.
I was even more surprised when we then got a letter telling us that the nomination had gone though and that we were now in the final four!
As the nominations were read out on the night of the ceremony - I was convinced that I had no chance of winning against the very stiff competition - the quality of the entrants seemed so high and unreachable.
I have to admit that when I stood up on the stage and was asked to do a little speech, I had a lump in my throat and almost couldn't get the words out.
Here I was, the guy that as a boy was brought up in poverty, living in a caravan in the early years of his life - who had stared a business in his spare room despite having no formal business qualifications (I left school with just four O-levels and one is woodwork and one is drawing, so I never considered myself to be ideal business material) - now standing on stage as Surrey Business Person of the Year. It was a very moving moment for me.
What have you been up to since winning and do you feel that the award has helped in the past year?
I am passionate about the role of business people to help the community in which we live and work. Each year, I organise and host an Entrepreneurs Bootcamp Event with all of the ticket proceeds going to a charity.
This year, the event attracted over 4,000 delegates, raising �468,000 for the Camberley-based Make A Wish Foundation UK.
Holding the title of Surrey Business Person of the Year certainly helped me in getting entrepreneurs from around the world to fly in to speak at the event - including one American gentleman who, despite many years as a public speaker, had never spoken outside the USA.
Being Surrey Business Person of the Year certainly helped with raising my personal profile when it came to marketing the event and this year we had the largest audience to date.
Would you recommend the competition to other Surrey business people and how would you suggest they approach the awards?
I would recommend it wholeheartedly. I can't give tips on how to enter - as the charities I was involved with put the entry together, with the help of some of my staff members, without my knowledge. However, I believe the judges looked not just at the profit and loss account of the business - but more at the person - what they stand for, what their involvement within the wider Surrey community is, and how they make a positive social as well as economic impact.
Do you remain active in Surrey and if so what recent projects have you been involved in?
I am more active than ever in my local area in Surrey. I continue to work closely with local organisations such as Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in Farnham. After meeting with them last year, it soon became clear that they needed help, not just in capital projects - but also with ongoing funding for their wonderful community nursing team. I have provided them with funding for a vehicle, laptop, phone, nurses salary etc, for the next three years so that they can enhance the work they do in caring for people in their own homes. I also worked with them and funded a ground breaking marketing DVD that they now use to raise awareness of the hospice within the Surrey business community.
I am also working with Disability Initiative, in Camberley, to help them continue to offer a range of activities and courses for their clients but also assist with their long term strategies for expansion across Surrey to help the wider disabled community. We are in early discussions and planning regarding the possible funding of two new Disability centres in Surrey and I hope to devote a lot of time to this project in the coming months.
You seem to support a number of charities, do you feel this is an important aspect of being a rounded business / business person?
I have a belief that as business people we should judge our effectiveness, not just by the profits we make, but by the way we use those profits and reinvest them into the community in which we live and work.
Do you have any tips for anyone who might be struggling in the current economic climate?
Money is there to be made in so called good times and bad. The sign of true entrepreneur is that they will constantly be on the look out for new opportunities. They will adapt. If you have a business that is struggling - scale it down and 'tread water' - and take time out to look for other opportunities that are emerging in the current economic climate - and don't get sucked into the gloom and doom that we get presented with each day. Fortunes were made in the 1930's and the 1980's crashes. Fortunes are there to be made today too.
PROVE YOU ARE AN AWARD WINNER!
If you would like to follow in Andrew Reynold's footsteps, Surrey companies and business people have until Friday November 21 2008 to send in their applications for a chance to triumph at the most prestigious business awards in the county. Entry is free and can be done online at www.surreybusinessawards.co.uk or call 0870 609 3048 to order a free entry booklet. Winners will be announced at the glamorous awards ceremony and dinner at Sandown Park Racecourse on Thursday 2 April 2009.