Shaun has set-up and managed multiple successful businesses. One of which - Charge - is a Multi-Award Winning Social Enterprise that improves students employability through work-based activities. This organisation has integrated some of its services with the University of Wolverhampton and has partnerships with companies including: Carillion; Marston's; and Enterprise Rent a Car.
Another, is ProjectPros. ProjectPros is a business facilitation service aimed at facilitating construction professionals to a larger and wider audience through innovative marketing methods and also ensuring customers receive high-quality and reliable construction professionals.
Shaun has extensive experience in the areas of: Business Management; Project Management; Marketing Management; Quality Management and Strategy Consultancy.
He is also exceptionally commercially aware due to him regularly researching and writing articles; which have been published throughout the internet - including the internationally acclaimed marketingexperiments.com.
Shaun is a unique individual - with a lot of successful traits, and he adds a significant amount of value to any role he undertakes.
When did you decide that you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
Since school I found business to be very interesting. I enjoyed considering my own business ideas and how I would have the business models work; sometimes I would consider popular business models and add my own innovative twist to it.
Over a few years a number of ideas occurred to me and I would always write them down, once they are on paper they are safe from the possibility of being forgotten. I would then consider other possibilities regarding the idea e.g. design, delivery methods, feasibility, other ways of doing the same thing in a better or more effective way.
At the age of 16 I had considered a very beneficial idea that would prevent a common crime. Unfortunately I pondered on it for too long and after having the idea in my head for about four years, when I researched current patents online I found out the same idea had been patented only six months before hand; so with this in mind I would highly recommend people to act on their ideas straight away.
I believe I decided to become an entrepreneur during my 2nd year at university. One day I decided to visit a part of the university I would not normally go to due to a seminar being on I found interesting, and while there I popped into one room to enquire about it and it just so happened I walked in to the wrong room for it and instead I had actually started talking to a careers advisor who also represents the SPEED Program (business start-up course). During this conversation I was inspired to apply to it and present my current business ideas.
I did apply, passed all the relevant stages including a presentation to a panel of judges and started the course during January. Also during January I was presented with the opportunity to undertake a project to raise money for Compton Hospice. While other groups ended up doing one-time things such as car washes or auctions, I had the vision to set-up something that would be ongoing; I presented the idea of Charge and it took off from there.
How did you know your business idea was the right idea?
Say for example with Charge, we knew it was a good idea because it solved common problems and integrated a number of benefits. Charge provides opportunities not available anywhere else, and it fulfills a need that is common among students.
So if you have something that is different, and/or innovative and you know there is a market there for it, you know you are on to something.
What was the most difficult part in getting started?
It depends on the circumstances, sometimes it seems the initiation may be quite challenging - especially when you are under pressure to conjure up a winning idea; and being a competitive person and one who enjoys challenges I was ensuring we get this stage right, because the idea is the fundamentals.
But once the idea and concept is down in black and white, the real challenge begins; making it a reality.
What is the top skill (or skills) needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
A successful entrepreneur, especially one starting from the ground up requires a number of skills, in no particular order these are:
- Project Management Skills
- Marketing Skills
- Communication & Negotiation Skills
They also need good business acumen, be creative and also innovative. Most successful entrepreneurs say they are still in business, not for the money (as a lot have more than what is required to live for the rest of their lives luxuriously), but for the challenge that every day brings. This is an important motivational factor that must be present in someone to be able to aspire to being a successful entrepreneur. The challenge of overcoming the obstacles brought each day; because they propose opportunities to improve and develop personally as well as the business.
What motivates you and/or keeps you motivated?
The challenge of making a success of it and the rewards it entails; from personal development; personal satisfaction and fulfillment; and a better quality of life.
A strong motivator for me is picturing where I want to be in a few years time and then translating that in to the things I need to do now to get to their.
What do you think is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
I believe there are a number of characteristics that split entrepreneurs from employees, and these are:
Employees are risk averse, they want to take the job that is offered and settle at that
Employees seek security and that is what a fixed salaried job offers (depending on the economy and performance)
Entrepreneurs will never settle for less than what they set their goals on
Entrepreneurs like to use their skills and knowledge to their maximum potential - and their potential is never restricted because there is always room to improve and learn
Entrepreneurs are not gamblers but calculated risk takers; they consider the risk and reward and depending on the possibilities they make their decisions
They are generally creative and innovative people who offer alternative ways of doing things
What has been one of your failures, and what have you learned from it?
One of my lessons, as previously mentioned involved not exploiting one of my ideas straight away, which left open the opportunity for someone else to do it. What I have learnt is, identify opportunities, research them thoroughly, and then exploit them straight away.
Henry Ford once said that "A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one." What are your thoughts on that quote?
What he is saying is, people can never get enough of a good product.
But the argument is open to what is determined as a good product. Any product could be perceived as brilliant and get sold out; this would be perceived as a good thing, but if everyone on the planet bought it, clearly the market is saturated - and what's worse is, if it's a stand-alone product that would be the end of sales.
For this reason, I believe Henry Ford is relating to a product that is disposable or one that is replaced over time as this ensures the market is never saturated. What makes it a good product is the fact that people will be willing to purchase it again albeit an updated version. We see this all the time e.g. iPhones, Playstations, Macs etc.
Walt Disney once said that "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." What are your thoughts on that quote?
I completely agree with this quote. It identifies what separates the dreamers from the ones who will undertake it and begin living it. And of course, the most difficult thing at the start is taking the business from an idea and manifesting it into reality - which is what Walt Disney is referring to.
Zig Ziglar once said "If you don't see yourself as a winner, then you cannot perform as a winner." What are your thoughts on that quote?
Successful entrepreneurs are successful because they believe in themselves and they believe in their product/service. On top of this it is important to have a positive frame of mind and maintain an optimistic way of looking at things, for example: seeing problems as challenges and opportunities to improve, rather than in a negative way.
The essence of entrepreneurship is most likely 100% psychological. Some break it down to: Talent; Temperament; and Technique. These are all pivotal areas.
Overall, there will be times where it seems you are going nowhere, but this is where the positive attitude comes in to play and takes your business to the next level.
What was the most crucial thing you have done to grow your business?
Invest a significant amount of time in learning about marketing, as the tools and techniques I learnt dramatically benefited my businesses.
What advice would you give an entrepreneur who is just starting out?
One piece of advice I was recently told by an experienced entrepreneur was - make the most of the opportunity, make the mistakes and learn from them. So what if your business fails? Your next one will be even better than your first, and the next one after that will be even better again.
Essentially, treat it as a learning experience, one that teaches lessons money could never buy. And over time wisdom shall enable more fruitful outcomes.
One more example: I read not too long ago that it takes a baby hundreds of attempts to learn to walk; if we applied only a fraction of that amount of determination to business we would all be successful.
Finally: Make the Most of Every Opportunity.
Shaun's website: www.shaun-gurmin.co.uk
Charge on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/chargesociety.wlv