National Business Awards Entrepreneur finalist focus: Piers Daniell, Fluidata

Tell us about your business.
Fluidata is the Data Delivery Network that provides business-grade data and connectivity services to UK companies and the industry. Fluidata’s network is cutting edge, ensuring the next generation of Internet technology is supported.

How did you fund your business?
Originally it was with credit cards that were then replaced with Angel investors. However, we did not receive the agreed sums within the timescales required. This meant I had to think laterally to keep the business alive during its inception. Mortgaging my parents’ home replaced the funds necessary to build the business into the profitable and cash positive business it is today. Loans were repaid within three years and the business has managed to achieve healthy profits so dividends have been possible to be paid to shareholders for the past four years.

What is the biggest challenge entrepreneurs are facing?
The biggest challenge is managing people. Nothing prepares you for the variety of issues you have to tackle when dealing with people. Finding the right people, training them and then retaining them can feel like a distraction from the core activity of driving the business. In reality, the people are what makes the business, so the earlier you can bring in HR is crucial to success.

Can you give any advice to others starting up businesses?
Many people aspire to run their own companies but aren’t happy to do the same things over and over again. People need to be prepared for this, as it is what a start-up is all about. To begin with it’s not fun or sexy and there is little to no recognition – most people don’t understand what you are doing or why you are doing it.

This is why determination is key. No matter what challenges you face, don’t give up. You will make a lot of mistakes but instead of getting disheartened, learn from them and be prepared when you inevitably have to do the same thing again.

Also just get on with it. If I could have planned everything that happened to now I would have not had the will to start. You need to have a leap of faith and while I wouldn’t recommend blindly jumping into your own business, you do need to be pragmatic. The business will look nothing like you envisaged in a few years’ time but much easier to change and adapt it if it is a real thing rather than just an idea in your head.

How do you think we can encourage entrepreneurialism in young people to create a generation of entrepreneurs?
Being an entrepreneur was instilled in me from a young age – my family was often discussing business around the dinner table when I was a child. My parents also didn’t believe in pocket money so I was always motivated towards gaining some financial freedom.

I think some people are born to work for others and some are born to work for themselves. The key is to ensure that the later are encouraged to pursue their dreams and to not settle with ‘any old job’. It is often a life-changing moment, a redundancy or similar, that gives people the motivation to start up a business.

Parents play a crucial role in developing the entrepreneurs of the future. Young people need to be forced to take responsibility, whether that is to pay rent when living at home, or justifying their decision whether or not to attend University, in order to grasp the determination needed to start up on your own.