I am very excited about this story. It’s a great example of the power of the internet and networking to bring people together. Craig lives in the UK. Since I live in Arkansas, the likelihood of us ever crossing paths was practically nonexistent. But we found each other online and connected almost instantly. I love his story and his business. And he is the first male brave enough to let me share his success story. So, ladies and gentlemen, meet my new friend, Craig Bruun!
1. Tell us about yourself.
I was born in South Africa and grew up in Johannesburg with 1 brother and a mother. I met my lovely wife Kirsten 21 years ago and will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this year. We moved to England 10 years ago. We have one son, Tyrone who will be 19 years old in December. He hopes to study nature conservation next year.
2. Is that why you started your business?
Yes. I had worked for myself at a young age as I was forced to start a business in South Africa when we lost my step dads business in the 90’s. He was hijacked and shot for his car in his driveway and spent a month in ICU in a coma. Unfortunately the hospital bills after 3 emergency operations totaled more than what his house was worth. Mom lost her husband, my step-dad, as well as the house as she couldn't pay for the medical bills. I didn’t have a job to go to and nobody was hiring (similar for many people today really. My lovely wife Kirsten was expecting our one and only boy, Tyrone, so I had to do something quickly that didn't cost much to start. I decided to start a carpet cleaning business. It was a very successful business until I decided to immigrate to England. Kirsten’s family comes from Oxford so we had family there which helped make the move easier.
3. Tell us about your current businesses
My business, Craig's Man and Van specializes in man and van type small deliveries, eBay collections and fragile antiques collections from auction houses etc. I have been gradually building up my piano moving business, Kent Piano Movers over the last two years, which I hope will take over as my bread winner soon.
4. What do you like most and least about being your own boss?
I really enjoy the fact that because mine is a physical job, my earnings are always directly proportionate to the effort I’m willing to put in. I know that if I have a bad week, that I need to then work harder at finding business the next week. This never bothers me. I enjoy the freedom of spending time with my family without having to ever apply for holiday or ask permission. There’s not much I don’t like, but the driving can get a bit much, especially if I have to work alone on long trips. It can get boring at times. I use this time to plan my next move and to work out how I can make my man and van business different from all the others. I do NOT like the reputation that the man and van or small removals companies have and find that sometimes people do not trust me just because there are so many dishonest similar businesses out there. This is something I’m desperately trying to change. I want to help others to run their small man and van businesses properly, show them how to charge fairly, how to keep their books and pay their taxes, what insurances they need etc.
5. What personality traits and skills are needed to run a business?
Anyone can learn to run a business of their own if they are dedicated and willing to learn. I am proof that without a proper education beyond high school, that if you’re willing to work, you can succeed. I think that traits like perseverance, patience and compassion for others and the ability to be able to see things from other people’s points of view all helps. I’ve realized that when I think something is a great idea, my wife can usually tell me differently and often save the day. I know that when she disagrees with me, she's often right, so she’s taught me to take on board what others think. I used to think that only my opinion counted and that I was surrounded by idiots. I am so ashamed of this.
6. What has been the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur?
Learning to listen and take advice when I think I have all the answers. AND other peoples shortsightedness. People do not see the big picture. Paying my taxes to support the work shy.
7. Do you have any resources you have used to build your business that you would recommend?
YouTube to add videos to my websites to explain what it is I do. I'm not a very good writer and find that task of having to type out (one finger typing that is) quite challenging. I'm also starting to get the point of Twitter. I do see the potential, but have not yet fully explored it. My next goal really.
8. Do you have any tips to share on promoting your business?
I have just recently started shooting small videos for my website. Nothing fancy, but have noticed a huge increase in enquiries. I do think that it’s got something to do with my type of business where people would prefer to use a small, local business rather than a large national company and this way they can see who it is they will be dealing with.
9. What other advice do you have for someone starting their own business?
Self-discipline is the most important thing to me. If I don’t have any work on for the day, I still get up at 6am and start working on promoting my business through local website directories, washing my van or walking around handing out my flyers. If you don’t have any of that to do, then help your wife with the laundry or help a charity out by volunteering a couple of hours. It gets you out the house and makes you feel like you’re worth something. When you feel this feeling, then you will want to get better and better and eventually you’ll start focusing on your own business and you’ll look forward to getting up to do a day’s work. Hang in there and listen to the advice of others, especially those who already own and run their own business.
10. How do we contact you about your businesses?
Click on any of these links:
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