Getting to know you: Derek Kelly

What do you currently do?
I’m the managing director of ClearSky Business. We provide specialist, fixed-fee support and advice to start-ups and small businesses on a range of business issues, including accountancy, payroll, HR, employment law and health & safety. Clients gain access to CIPD-qualified consultants, expert accountants and tax specialists. We solve problems so businesses owners can concentrate on growing their business.

What is your inspiration in business?
I love to watch people succeed, whether it’s our small business clients or our own in-house team. I’m a strong believer in backing the younger generation, which is why we employ more than 25 apprentices across the Optionis group. It’s fantastic to bring in employees of such a young age and watch them develop over time as they gain skills within their area of expertise.

Who do you admire?
I couldn’t possibly pinpoint one single person who I admire, as there are so many individuals who do such great things. People can’t be experts at everything; therefore my admiration would have to lie in a collection of individuals. Steve Jobs is a great example of someone who pioneered groundbreaking innovations that have changed people’s lives. On the other hand, there are countless small business owners and ‘one-man-bands’ that have extremely admirable achievements to their name.

Looking back, would you have done things differently?
I believe that everyone should learn from their mistakes. It’s easy to say ‘I shouldn’t have done that’ or ‘that should have happened quicker’, yet if you hadn’t made those mistakes then you wouldn’t have learnt a valuable lesson. Hindsight is a great thing, but business owners can do little with it. Doing something differently will ultimately achieve an alternative outcome, but that isn’t necessarily the right thing.

What defines your way of doing business?
It would have to be doing what’s right, not what’s easy. Some business owners focus too much on figures and numbers, which in turn can mean delivering a low quality service. Yes, the right thing may not make your business as much money in the short term, but when you’re stood in front of those pearly gates your honest approach will truly pay off.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
If you’ve got a good idea and you’re passionate about it, then you’ll succeed. Creating and growing a business is not easy, which is why only a select few people choose the path of an entrepreneur. It’s easy for others to think ‘I can achieve that’, but running your own business is a tough task. At the end of the day, believe in your idea and more importantly, believe in yourself.