How and why did you start Instaloft?
Instaloft was started in October 2014. I was completely broke, and having to borrow money from my dad, and sell DVDs and other items for £1 each at car boot sales just to pay the bills. I remember sitting on my living room floor and looking through various business opportunities when I stumbled across an advert for a loft boarding franchise. I applied for a bad debt credit card and was accepted for a £200 limit card.
I created a Facebook page and began placing ads in the hope of gathering some interest, and it was here I learned about Loftzone, a manufacturer of raised loft floor systems. I called them, asking them to supply me, and they eventually agreed to supply me on a “per job” basis.
That is how Instaloft got started, a tiny shoestring budget, a bit of begging suppliers to help and a determination that I could no longer live the way I had been living.
What was your experience of growing your business?
The start-up was very much a beg and borrow situation, scraping together the few basic materials I needed, and once I had completed my first installation, I just had to get on with it.
Just as I started to garner some stability with the business, I fell down someone’s stairs while doing a quote, spraining both my wrists, which meant I was suddenly unable to work. This was a huge turning point for me and the business, because I could work “on” the business, and not just “in” it. I realised that I could work on more quotes as I had the time and I started to work on the growth of the business. It was a light bulb moment that if it works over here, I can then replicate it over there and the business began to grow.
What have been your biggest challenges since starting and growing Instaloft, and what would you have done differently?
I would have introduced systems and processes a lot sooner and I would certainly have invested in learning more about the financial side of the business. Getting a business coach as soon as possible and reading more are also key elements as you learn from people who’ve been there and done it. You need to set up your business with an end goal in mind and not just pay yourself a wage. If I’d known some of these things at the beginning, I could have saved myself a lot of stress
What defines your style of doing business?
I’m obsessive. I go all in; if I have an idea, I don’t do it half baked, I gather as much information as I can, I study, I read, I listen to YouTube tutorials, I don’t let anything stop me. Too many people focus on their doubts, but I look at what might go wrong and ensure that it doesn’t.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
Don’t let others tell you that it can’t be done, if you are determined then anything is possible. If it doesn’t work, try again, find something else and don’t give up.
My second bit of advice would be to never underestimate the importance of numbers. Set your pricing so that you can afford staff when you need to, don’t go out there trying to undercut everyone else. Focus on providing a great service and experience at the right price so you can grow, and you will do far better than always offering the lowest price possible.
How do you define success as an entrepreneur?
At one point it was just about being able to feed my kids. Over the years it’s become more about empowering people to grow and giving them opportunity to excel where they may not have been able to otherwise. It may sound crazy but I’m sure many entrepreneurs will agree that as time passes the money becomes less important than the people you meet along the way.
Has Brexit affected your industry?
One of the biggest problems that we are facing at the moment as a result of Brexit, and actually a combination of Brexit and the pandemic, is the supply of materials. The steel and timber we need to make the LoftZone systems have become increasingly hard to get hold of.
Since Brexit we’ve had a lot of battles trying to make sure we’ve got suppliers for materials so that we can get the installation completed in the time frame that we have quoted.
What does the future have in store for Instaloft?
Getting through the pandemic has been my main priority of late as we had a couple of shaky months when it all began but then business boomed as people were stuck at home and started to spend money on home improvements and fortunately, were still allowed to function.
We are on target to turnover in excess of £14 million and generate £2 million in profit by the year ending 2021, and my plans are to double revenue to £30 million within the next three years.