Daniel Cook interviewed by Bradley Chapman for Raw Business
Daniel Cook [Creative Director of Dynamic Consultants] was recently interviewed by Bradley Chapman at Raw Business, here is what he was asked and had to say:
How did you start your current business?
I started Dynamic Consultants in 2009 with one for my closest of friends. I had spoken about the idea for my business for quite some time, and in the middle of 2009, after unexpectedly finishing a long-term work contract I finally decided to make the most of an opportunity and took the plunge to set the business up. From that point on I spent two long months putting together my business plan, and during that time I spent every minute of every day researching, developing and perfecting my business idea, I also went on many business workshops and also spoke to various people for advice.
Were you employed prior to starting this business venture?
Yes I was. I was working as a website developer for a very large financial data company where I was developing their internal intranet knowledgebase system. I was also given the challenge of creating an online IT helpdesk knowledgebase system which was a great success and was implemented across their entire business structure which spread over all the continents. Unfortunately my contract came to an end when nearing the final phase of development. It was no fault of my own, sadly I had been caught up in the internal politics between the two departments controlling the project and it was me that bore the brunt of the impact which ultimately left me without work, it was this that made me turn my back on the employment world and want to start my own business.
What was your biggest fear before starting your business?
My biggest fear was the lack of money, the thought of trying to survive and support my family without a regular income that I was so used to having. At the time my budget for starting a business was about £10.00, this increased my fear even more because the thought of having nothing to fall back on worried me. It was only sheer determination and the support from others that gave me the drive to succeed.
What has your biggest challenge been since starting your business?
My biggest challenge was starting my business with such a low budget, but instead of giving up I looked at what the essentials were that I needed to get started, I then made a list of everything and prioritised what was most important. With my list in hand, I approached friends, family, anyone for help in getting everything together and what I couldn’t get I took a chance and bought it using what money I could scrape together.
How did you manage to raise the finance to start your business?
Well, the short answer is; I didn’t. The thought of borrowing a large sum of money based on an idea scared the life out of me, so instead I chose to work my way through my list of requirements for getting started and found ways in getting the basics such as computers, software, a printer and so on. It was a difficult time for me too as I was in the process of moving to a bigger home, but I put my fears aside and with nothing but sheer determination and self-belief I continued to plan and researched every angle, possibility and opportunity open to me.
What has been your biggest mistake whilst creating building or running your business?
Mistake is a strong word to use, I think we all have to make mistakes in starting or running a business, otherwise how would we learn? Instead I would say my biggest obstacle was my naivety, I expected clients to start ringing my business phone ready to part with their cash as soon as I started trading. It was something that I knew would take time and I had researched and drawn up a sales chart as part of my business plan, I just hadn’t given myself enough time to market my new business because my expectations were just too high. This also put a heavy strain on my business partnership; it was even more difficult as we were very close friends and unfortunately after only 5 months, I had to make the difficult decision to dissolve the partnership and go it alone, I am however very lucky to still have the same strong if not stronger relationship with my friend to this day.
What has been your biggest success?
My biggest success? If I’m honest, I still think it is early days for my business to be called a success, maybe it’s me being modest, but I can see a long enjoyable journey ahead of me for Dynamic Consultants. I also see success as more of tool for testing what I do and use it as a stepping stone to progression, even if it means doing the same thing again and again, but in a slightly different way to make it even better than it was before. More than anything I think success is more of a confidence builder, it’s all about getting that sense of achievement from doing something and using it to do something even greater!
If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?
I wouldn’t say I’d go back and change anything, I would’ve however spent even more time doing what I did in the planning and research stages of writing my business plan. Firstly having a business plan has been a great tool in growing my business, it keeps me on track when making big decisions on the future of my company. It also reminds me why I’m doing this in the first place and what all the hard work and dedication is for.
Have you ever thought about giving up and what made you continue?
Many, many times over the past 19 months I’ve thought enough is enough and it’s normal. Sometimes it’s been from being exhausted from working so many hours and sometimes it’s because of not having a regular income to support myself and my family. It can be a very lonely world working for yourself, but with a strong mindset and a sheer determination wonders never cease. Whenever I feel I cannot do it anymore, I think about everything I have achieved so far and instead I wilfully put it down to having a bad day, it sounds simple but it’s true and it works, other than that I also look to friends and family for extra support.
What would you say is your biggest skill?
I would say my optimism, no matter how bad or impossible things seem I always believe there is a solution and never give up on finding an answer, it is this that I think gives people confidence in me as a businessman.
How would you define the role of an entrepreneur?
I’m still coming to terms with the word entrepreneur, since I was 21 I always said I would have my own business and nobody believed me. Now that I do have my own business, everyone I know calls me an entrepreneur which is understandable, but I still see big things to come for me and my business and ultimately, I see a long and enjoyable journey ahead. Again maybe it’s me just being modest but I see myself as someone doing something that I’ve so far only just scratched the surface of.
Many people are afraid to reach out and ask for help, believing that it is a weakness; I believe that it is a strength. If you had to reach out right now and ask for help, what would you ask?
Asking for help is a skill or concept that takes time to come around to, it should never be seen as a weakness, instead it should be seen as strength! It is so easy to let pride take over when making decisions that could be made easier just by asking someone you know, whether it be for their opinion or for their money. Ultimately, without asking for help you will only know the outcome of the error of not getting that help, if that makes sense?
What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses – How will you improve you entrepreneurial ability, what action will you take right now?
This may sound a little cheesy but my strengths can be my weaknesses at times. I’ll explain why, I am a very passionate person and am very much a perfectionist in everything I do.
Because I have such a vast amount of passion, I’m one of these people that become very determined when a good idea gets in my head and that’s great to put ideas into action, but not if it takes over everything else you d. I find it can also stop me taking onboard advice from people that just want to help, almost like stubbornness; yes I am also a very stubborn person.
As a perfectionist, I find it hard to finish what I’m doing, including when I’m working on a project for a client. Everything has to be right, down to the little things; I’ve always believed it’s the little things that make the big things more amazing. Unfortunately this doesn’t help me with meeting my deadlines, not that I don’t, it just means I have to work even harder to meet them all because I get caught up on one or two tiny amendments. Ultimately I don’t mind because it means that what my clients get as a finished product almost always exceeds their expectations, that is why I do what I do in the first place and so it ends as a win/win situation in my book.
Tell us about your business and what you offer your customers
Ok, my company is called Dynamic Consultants which is based in the town of Witham in the beautiful county of Essex. My business is to offer ‘Brilliant Ideas to Help Grow Your Business’ and what I do is offer Creative Web, Print & Graphic Design solutions to start-ups, small and medium size businesses in the UK that are wanting something different, unique which is at an affordable and realistic price. I’m also proud to offer invaluable advice, tips and support to any businesses free of charge as ultimately, I strongly believe that it is us all as entrepreneurs that create the backbone of our country’s future.
Article Date: 21 February 2011