How to start your own business
Most of us aspire to start our own company, however few go on to achieve this ambition. James Bolton is managing Director and co-founder of Wealth Management firm Atkinson Bolton Consulting, based in Newmarket. He graduated from London University in 1989 before training with Willis in London, and moving to Beckett Financial Services where he became Client Servicing Director responsible for the management of key corporate clients and the Employee Benefits team. He left his position in 2001 to help found Atkinson Bolton Consulting. In this exclusive interview, Bolton speaks to Palatinate about the truth of starting your own business.
Why did you decide to start your own company?
Largely I believed I could deliver a better service than my employers. I was a director in the company but with no real control. I could see what my clients appreciated and wanted to deliver a more personal service with greater control over the company I worked in. The incentive of a potential financial reward was secondary to this.
Were you concerned about the risks involved with starting your own company?
Younger people are in a better position to take a risk because they have fewer commitments.
The main risk for us was the investment of capital from each of the partners. This was necessary to purchase the equipment, office, and additional employees we needed to hire to begin the business. As it was a service business we did not need to purchase any additional machinery, however this is often also necessary.
The second difficulty was the regulatory side to the company. The financial services are heavily regulated. We were required to be approved by certain bodies to trade properly, which is similar in many businesses.
Any skills from University that helped?
At university I studied biochemistry, so my degree was not directly related to the financial sector. However we do work with biomedical companies and this basis of knowledge has been extremely useful in maintaining an understanding with some of our clients. University taught me self-reliance, routine, and how to work hard. University and further qualifications are also necessary in the financial services, so my degree enabled me to reach this position.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own company?
You have got to have knowledge of the business you wish to create. Or else have a strong business idea you are confident with and committed to. Personally I had over 10 years’ experience working in the industry before I decided to set up my own company.
It’s like having a child, you never feel ready for it or financially secure enough, but if have enough drive and ambition then you’re likely to succeed.
To anyone looking to start up their own company, I would say… go for it. Do it.
Helping you to get started:
- Businesslink is a government body from the department of business innovation and skills, which runs a Small Firm Loans Guarantee scheme- encouraging high street banks to lend to high risk small firms. It also provides online advice for anyone interested in starting up their own company. For more information, go to:
- Prince’s Trust is a trust established in 1976 to provide practical and financial support to individuals. They have an Enterprise Programme which lends up to £4,000 to a new business start-up. You can also attend regular sessions with a free mentor, provided to help young people start up in business. For more information, go to:
- The government has recently announced plans to expand the scope of its proposed New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) to a loan package of up to £2,000 available to unemployed people wanting to set up their own businesses. For more information, visit:
- Durham Blueprint Competition 2012. The Blueprint business plan competition has been running for seven years. Each of the five Universities in the North East run their own individual competitions which then feed into the regional grand final, which usually takes place in October.
- Cash prizes will be awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners for the best business idea submitted by current students and recent graduates of Durham University, studying any degree discipline.
To enter visit: http://www.dur.ac.uk/blueprint.durham/ and submit your business plan before 17th January 2012