Real Solutions - Is this a good time to start a business?

Leading industry professionals gave us their views on setting up in business in today's challenging economic environment at HW's Survival Tactics in Challenging Times seminar in London last week.

FOUNDER - Norman Hambrook, Hambrooks Landscapes

"Some of the most successful companies started up in recessions. Keep at it all the time, that's what I think you should do.

"You need to keep an eye on your competitors and not take your eye off the ball. You need to plan at least three years ahead to make sure that there's enough out there to make it worthwhile.

"You are only as good as your last job and in starting your own business you need to believe in yourself."


MANAGING DIRECTOR - Paul Cowell, PC Landscapes

"People starting up their own businesses now have some of the best opportunities because the Government has said it wants to be the greenest government ever.

"People should be working towards a whole system - we have to look at landscaping together with the building sector.

"For example, with the Big Tree Plant, people need to have the skills to be able to plant the trees and look after them. There's a whole cycle there that nobody is thinking about.When you do that, you will move forward a lot quicker. The opportunities are enormous."


DIRECTOR - Noel Farrer, Farrer Huxley associates

"The private sector is where the growth will start and that's where we need to put our efforts because I don't see the public sector being good for a minimum of two years.

"The environment is now becoming much more popular, and localism will bring big improvements and some good opportunities. I would like to think that going forward people would value design and I really hope that the environmental movement continues.

"You need to make sure that all your members of staff are aware of why landscaping is important so that they can sell it to your customers."


MANAGING DIRECTOR - Steve McCurdy, majestic trees

"It's really important to have a good team of staff who know their stuff. I pay my staff 10-15 per cent above the average and share 25 per cent of the profits every year with the whole team. You should only hire people who are prepared to work hard.

"We are a very open-book management business and we have senior management team meetings three times a year where we tell them our plans.

"We promote within and make sure that everybody on the team buys into the whole plan."

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