27 November 2015 | Career Advice | Guest Author
Formed in 2006, Jonathan Warren launched Time4Sleep.co.uk in response to the boom in online shopping, and it is now a well respected brand in the home interiors world, regularly featuring in home interiors magazines each month. Here, Jonathan speaks to Grad Jobs about how he created his successful business.
What made you decide to start your own business?
I always had a desire to run my own company, and at the age of 32 I had few ties and commitments, some capital from inheritance and the security of having a partner who had a stable job and income. The only thing holding me back was the fear of the unknown – I felt like it was now or never and so I decided to go for it!
How did you get in to the industry?
I had experience of working for a Divan bed manufacturer as their Marketing Manager, so the interiors sector, and the bed sector in particular, felt like a natural choice.
What is the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
Running a business means the working day doesn’t really end. It is extremely full on and can be quite all consuming, which means the biggest challenge is stepping back and balancing family life and friends with work.
What are the biggest benefits?
Doing something that you enjoy (most of the time!) and are passionate about is definitely the biggest benefit. Having greater flexibility in terms of the hours that you work is also fantastic, and there can be financial benefits too.
What is your advice to graduates hoping to start their own business?
My advice would be to be totally focused on your business and be very determined, resilient and resourceful. At times you will need to keep the faith in both yourself and your business idea – expect it to be tough and challenging, yet rewarding.
You might need to be honest with yourself and ask ‘is it really for you?’. You can expect to work up to double the hours that you may work in a normal job for the first few years, so be prepared to make a few sacrifices along the way. Finally, don’t be seduced by the lure of money.
You have to have the drive and commitment to succeed along with an abundance of perseverance, and money shouldn’t be the main reason for becoming a business owner.
What did you study at university?
I studied BSc Business Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, and feel like it has really helped me, especially in the early days of running Time4Sleep. The course gave me a great start in my career and I would highly recommend it to young people who might be interested in starting their own business.
What work experience did you have prior to setting up your own business?
I had all the part time jobs under the sun! I’ve been an ice cream seller, warehouse person, labourer, painter, petrol forecourt attendant, and barman to mention but a few. I believe there’s no such thing as bad work experience, and all of the above have helped develop my key skills in different ways.
What’s a typical day in the office for you?
There is no typical day, which is part of the fun. It could be spending time talking to the team about operational issues, developing new lines with suppliers, or working on accounts and day to day admin. Being the boss means you can create your own working week, which is definitely a plus point!
What are your top three tips to successfully running your own business?
1) Focus and simplicity – try not to be all things to all people. Do your research, understand your market, work out what you want to be good at and stick at it. Keeping things simple is the hard bit.
2) Treat people fairly and always be respectful to everyone, including colleagues, customers, and suppliers. It will help your business massively in the long run.
3) Try and enjoy the journey and have some fun along the way!
Jonathan Warren is founder and director of online bed retailer time4sleep.co.uk, who are currently offering design students and graduates a chance to take their first step at running their own business by having their design sold on the Time4Sleep website.