#SelfStarterStories: From being a Sales Manager to becoming the Founder of a measurement technology company
This week's #selfstarterstory features Alex Graft, Founder of Safety Monitors.
Safety Monitors Limited provide the most innovative new measurement technologies for Safety, Health and the Environment. With over 15 years’ experience in instrumentation, we have the unrivalled knowledge to make sure our clients get the right instruments for their application. Be it a new instrument purchase, hire or service we provide quick turnaround times and the highest levels of customer service. We understand every application is different and can help you identify the right requirements for your site to make sure you get the right solution for your company and colleagues.
#PickYourselfUK caught up with Alex to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey.
What was your last job?: I was a Sales Manager for an SME
When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: Around 2 years ago I was unhappy with the direction our company was going into. We had been purchased by a larger company and the care and family spirit within the company seemed to have been lost in favour of a sale-at-all-costs mentality.
I knew at this point I could either take a similar job at a competitor or do what I had always dreamed of and start up my own business. What I love most about our company is although there are only 3 full-time people including me and a couple of part-timers is we really care about what we do and they are my extended family.
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: Confidence. To stop listening to the voice inside my head telling me it would fail and I wouldn't be good enough or no one would want our service.
What is your favourite business book and why?: Entrepreneur Revolution by Daniel Priestley. I found this book so helpful in structuring my business and giving me the confidence that I had a mountain of value.
Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: I personally do all the marketing and until about a month ago I was also the salesperson. I work with management consultants to help me with strategy and keeping me on goal.
What is your favourite marketing tool ?: Agile CRM or Drift I am not sure which I love most but both are fantastic!
How do you market your business?: Google AdWords, some paper advertising in trade magazines. Events and conferences both speaking at and exhibiting and LinkedIn.
When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: I went through my black book (LinkedIn) of all my contacts and got busy on the phone!
How did you get your first traffic to your website?: Google Ads and LinkedIn
Nominate one person/friend who believed in you from the start, and what would you like to say to them today?: Sara Graft (my wife) - She is my rock and has always been the one who keeps me grounded and is willing to listen to me whenever I am struggling with self-doubt. Without her, I wouldn't be where I am.
What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: Look at your life and see what really motivates you. What gets you excited, what do you really love doing. Then look at all you have ever done and what has really lit you up. I found that what really excites me is where health meets technology.
I feel like I am making a difference in the world whilst doing something I love. If you can recognise all the things in your life which have brought you the happiness you can start to see the mountain of value you hold in your own personal experience. once you can recognise this you can create your business around that.
Do what makes you happy and be prepared for the tough times and the sleepless nights but they are all worth it when you can see something you have built flourish.
If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: Daniel Priestley. he just really inspires me to be my best and without his books, I would never have started my own business.
To stay up to date with Alex's entrepreneurial journey, please find him on his Facebook below:
Alex Graft has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2018. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.