An Insight into local businessman Andy Harris from Canterbury based A1 Webstats as he answers our Kent Entrepreneur Interview Questions.
Name Andy Harris
Company name A1WebStats Limited
Your business ‘elevator pitch’
Small businesses don’t get enough from their websites. Our cheap software and valuable insights turn business websites into true winners.
How did you get started in business?
Through being unemployable! Always thinking I knew better than my employers ultimately ended up with starting a business to be in complete control.
If we asked your staff what you are like to work for, what would they say?
Apart from the swear words, they’d probably say that I have more ideas than time in the day.
What was your biggest ever business challenge and how did you overcome it?
Business is always a challenge (but also fantastically exciting) – you only overcome it when you’re in a long dark wooden box and the flames are licking around the outside of it.
What do you see as your biggest success to date?
Our creation of the A1WebStats software product and the great feedback gained from companies who benefit.
How many hours sleep do you get on an average night?
6 – and thankfully I sleep really well.
How has the recent recession affected your business?
It’s actually helped – it’s focused companies on the need to get more results out of their collateral, which includes their websites.
If you could offer a first-time entrepreneur only one piece of advice, what would it be?
About any given subject (e.g. cashflow) ask numerous different people the same question and see which answers become consistent.
Looking back at your career, what’s one thing you would do differently?
I would have found ways to outsource certain activities instead of doing them ourselves. For entrepreneurs, money can be tight in the early months but there are ways (e.g. bartering, which I wish I’d discovered many years ago) that non-core activities can be outsourced without costing a fortune.
How does being Kent-based benefit your business?
Our product/service is national and international so we’re not so much ‘Kent’. However, it’s a lot easier getting the buy-in from people who you can physically meet. Also, people moan about transport links but I think that with the M2 and M20 most places are pretty accessible – even sticking within speed limits!
Where do you see yourself and your business five years from now?
Putting aside financial benefits of where the business is heading, I’d like to be in a position to be ‘giving more back’ to businesses and people in general. If our legacy is that we have helped thousands of small companies gain more success from their websites, then that would make me very happy.
Which top three skills have made you a successful entrepreneur?
Ability to type fast; Thinking as a customer would; Not accepting limits.
What has been your biggest failure, and what have you learnt from it?
This could be seen as a failure but also a positive – spending too much time with people who need help with their websites. That benefits much of the time but it’s also a huge time drain. Once upon a time I was proud to have built up £Xthousand a month in income through consultancy work – then I realised that I had actually created a problem in that the business was purely ‘me’. That’s what led onto the creation of the A1WebStats software.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I don’t have anyone specific but I do respect those who have achieved what they talk about. I suppose that, if pushed, I’d have to say Steve Jobs – I don’t necessarily admire his ways of handling things but I do admire his tenacity.
What are your hobbies?
What do you do in your non-work time? Non-work time – what’s that? Apart from family, one of my passions is retro video games.
Excluding yours, which company do you admire the most?
I don’t admire companies – I admire individuals working within them.
Which business book has inspired you the most?
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
There are many – every phone call or email that highlights where a client has benefited from our expertise.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
Uh-oh, confession time: around 15.