Each week we catch up with a different entrepreneur to discover what makes them tick, their top tips and more. This week we spend five minutes with Robin Sheppard, Co-founder of hotel management company, Bespoke Hotels.
Hi Robin! First things first – What is Bespoke Hotels?
It is a hotel management company, which is the leading independent hotel management company in Britain aiming to grow further in the UK and overseas.
What inspired you to start your business?
It was a chance conversation with my present founding partner, Haydn Fentum. Intuitively we recognised a compatible skill set and acknowledgement that one and one could make three. I also knew I needed to be my own boss because I was becoming more and more difficult to control!
Initially, Haydn wanted to acquire one hotel for us to work together on. However, we didn’t want our salary expectations to overload a single asset and felt the best way to evolve was to use this first hotel as the basis to attract more contracts.
How did you fund your business?
With some difficulty! We survived on thin area for long periods of time. We used a modest amount of bank debt and tried to avoid doing this for nearly all of the time since our start-up days.
What has been the biggest challenge for your business?
Firstly, I was ill for an 18 month period and unable to contribute during that time. That was really challenging. Secondly, there are constant growing pains as you try to put sufficient resources in place to manage the estate and then the business grows almost immediately after you put the perfect balance into position.
Have you made any mistakes along the way and how did you overcome them/learn from them?
We’ve made many mistakes along the way but thankfully most of them have been absorbed and learnt from. It is the speed of acceptance which we are probably better with now, 15 years on, in that if we have made an error, we are able to recognise it as quickly as possible and correct it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to anyone looking to start their own business?
Be persistent. If you really are an entrepreneur and want to carve out a niche opportunity for yourself, you have to be as close to the business as you possibly can be every day and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
What time does your day start and end, and what do you do to relax away from the hustle and bustle of work?
I usually work from 8am to 8pm during the week and then gnaw away at work over the weekends too. Away from work I like to unwind by playing with the grandchildren and I also enjoy writing books.
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