It is with great pleasure that I help and support the Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge. This challenge is a perfect opportunity for young people to get a taster to what it is like becoming your own boss and starting your own business.
When I was 22 years old, I had a vision to change the face of technology. With the World Wide Web taking shape, I knew I could offer something to businesses across the UK and abroad. So from my back bedroom in Droylsden, I started by own business, ANS Group.
I have a passion for enterprise and I have always encouraged young people to start up businesses in fields they feel most passionate about. From a young age, I did anything to gain a bit of profit. I sold cockles and whelks in the East of Manchester and I even appeared on TV shows like Jossy’s Giants. I never went to University, but I certainly made sure my 5 years after school didn’t go to waste starting an apprenticeship (known as a YTS in those days) at the age of 17.
I am proud of ANS Group’s achievements. I started the business almost 18 years ago with almost nothing. However, I knew how important it was to maintain and gain positive relations with business connections. Because of this, in addition to the hard work of my staff members, ANS Group’s profits have exceeded expectations through the toughest economic climate. We have received back-to-back profit growth over the past eleven years.
When it comes to running a business, I always do things the traditional way – putting cash-flow and profit before top line growth.
As Chairman of ANS, I always look for potential and profitable investment and I always find ways to getting involved with start-up companies. In 2008 for example, we took over the struggling Manchester Company Gödel Technologies; under our stewardship the company has increased its staff numbers from 30 to 150 and is now showing a healthy profit.
We oversaw a merger of Gödel with a similar technology company, and because of this, we gained valuable experience of international business as we helped to expand Gödel’s operations in Belarus.
Another example I can recall in regards to looking for profitable investment was in October 2012 when we funded fellow Manchester entrepreneur Jasen Jackiw’s start-up company Prymo. Since its launch, it has already landed a £200,000 contract with Laing O’Rourke to work on the extension to the Central Reference Library in Manchester.
One of my biggest passions is youth employment and training. I see that the education system is well behind when it comes to teaching young people ICT. It isn’t their fault entirely, but it is because technology is advancing so fast, Universities and schools simply cannot keep up. That is why ANS Group last year launched the ANS Academy which provides opportunities for young people in Manchester to begin a career in the IT industry.
One piece of advice I’d like to give budding entrepreneurs is that reputation is key. Get involved in as many entrepreneurial events as possible, make yourself accessible in the very competitive business world. Once you get yourself recognised, you’ll have a better chance of getting rewarded. Having won Entrepreneur of the Year for the North West at the National Business Awards, IOD Young Director of the Year and The PLUS Markets Chairman of the Year, they can not only boost your morale, but it also boosts the reputation of your business.
This is an exciting time for young people in the UK. With the declining unemployment rate and economy strengthening again, what better time is there for young people to make their dreams a reality? Their incredible journey starts from this exciting Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge.