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Steve Finch left a job in the City to start Click Europe Ltd, which makes the boppi and bopster toy and entertainment brands. It’s now a multi-million pound business.
Beginning in a spare bedroom in a shared house, dad-of-three Steve loves the fact that the products his company sells remind him of his children, including the popular Tiny Trekker luggage range. It’s also very flexible, running around his family life. We asked him how this entrepreneur success story happened and how he manages it.
I always wanted to be creative in a business sense. It’s about having the freedom to try new things, finding out if that idea you’ve had can become a reality and strengthen the business you are trying to grow. I love finding and developing a product – with my amazing team – and bringing it to market.
I don’t allow myself to get overwhelmed with the jobs and tasks that need doing within the business. This gives me time and space to enjoy my family. Once a week, I take my daughter swimming. Sometimes I do the school run in the morning or the post-school drop-off at various clubs. I make up the time with the odd early morning or late evening, when the kids are in bed. Building a fantastic team at Click has allowed me to do this. Three or four years ago it would have been more difficult because we didn’t have so many brilliant people in key areas.
We have let people work flexibly for a while now. Team members with family outside London can visit their loved ones for a decent length of time. They take some days as holiday and work remotely on others. People can come into the office a little earlier or later, within reason of course, and opt to work from home one or two days a week if they need to. Five or ten years ago that sort of thing was pretty rare. But I think it’s really important to help people stay connected with their families. The fixed nine-to-five is a thing of the past. The pandemic has just sped up a change in working habits that was already underway.
Where do I start? Financing. It is still very difficult to get funding from banks and I think governments should do more. To help companies like ours expand into new markets, I would give out business grants for taking part in trade shows around the world. The more exposure good products get, the more they will sell. I’d also like to see more of a level playing field for British business. The big overseas corporations – you know who they are – are just not paying their fair share of tax and that hurts.
Hiring people who do the things I’m not good at! That’s the key to making the switch from a small business to a larger one. Bringing in talent and developing talent is so important. Also, having people around who think differently to you. You need that diversity of thought, and people you can trust to run with new projects. Not being afraid to make a mistake, that’s also been really important. You have to have faith in your instincts and go with a new idea, even if you haven’t tried it before. In the end, that’s what makes your business and your products stand out.