Name: Richard Sumner
Business: Spreadsheet Solutions

Tell us about your business?
I use my experience as a project manager and my advanced knowledge of Excel to create custom Excel spreadsheets for businesses. Large businesses enjoy the benefits of custom business software, but smaller businesses don’t have such a luxury. I use Excel to create custom business software for businesses that usually can’t afford it.

What motivated you to start your business?
I had a few really bad bosses, and I decided to be my own boss after I was made redundant. I realised that I love to start a new job, as I get to assess the processes and form a strategy. I then got bored once I have created a process and structure to work to. I now get to help business owners establish, enforce and track their process, and then I get to start again with someone else.

What have been your greatest successes?
My business is still quite new, so I have not had too many major ‘successes’ yet, but I don’t really measure success by money. I do the job that I want to do. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would continue to do what I do now. I won’t have any money worries, but I wouldn’t stop the business. This to me is a success. I am constantly seeing the business improve, and I will one day see it become a financial success, but right now I am enjoying doing what I love.

What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My greatest challenge is believing in myself. I am a perfectionist, I usually expect more from myself than my clients do, but this causes fear that I will not live up to my standards. How did I overcome it? I haven’t yet, but I am getting better. The more happy clients that I have, the more I realise that I don’t have to stress about not being good enough. I have yet to have a complaint by a client, and I have had many referrals, that must stand for something.

What advice would you give to other small businesses and those thinking of taking the plunge and creating a start-up?
Face the fear. Accomplishing what scares you is the best way to defeat the fears. Yes, it is scary, but there is nothing like working for yourself. Having a set salary and letting someone else have the stress of running a business, is appealing, but then you don’t have the joys of seeing your creation grow and succeed. I often get worried about having my own business, but I wouldn’t give it up. Go for it!

How has technology (the Internet, Social Media, etc.) impacted how you conduct business?
I probably wouldn’t have a business if it weren’t for the Internet and Social Media. I use social media exclusively for my advertising, and I am very active on most social media platforms. I realised that I have not actually met almost a third of my clients, as I have dealt with them via skype and emails. Technology enables small business owners to have a voice, and seeing as I am selling software, I don’t actually need to meet in person.

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