We talk to Rob Stone, founder of the UKs largest storage solutions supplier Instaloft on his inspiration to starting the company
What do you currently do at Instaloft?
Instaloft is now the UK’s largest installer of loft storage solutions – we install loft ladders, flooring, and insulation in 900 to 1000 homes per month, via 6 different depots and 127 experienced employees. In seven years, the business that has grown from zero to a turnover in excess of £14 Million in revenue, with 127 employees so I would describe what I do now as ‘steering the ship’.
I sit at the back and steer the team and the business depending on which way the wind is blowing. By doing this I’ve built up a strong team who knows what the company vision is and where the company is going, where they’re going as individuals and what we’re trying to achieve. They know what their roles and responsibilities are but my job is to steer them in the right direction along the way
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Desperation. I had nine children and no money, and I was in a difficult place. In my previous business I’d been involved in loft installation, and I wanted to know how I could set up doing similar but with a unique selling point to differentiate my services over others. I found out about LoftZone and I thought I’d really like to do this but I didn’t have £10,000 to buy a franchise.
I found a way to get started but I knew this was my last shot at owning and running my own business so I had to give it my all, otherwise I would find myself back to square one looking for work and struggling.
Who do you admire?
I love the stories of people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and the way that they started was very similar to what I’ve done and experienced. I also enjoy the Grant Cardone TEDx talks. These are very Americanised but it’s like someone grabbing you and saying ‘you can do this – you’ve got to think bigger you’ve got to set your goals bigger’ and that really works for someone like me. If you work out what your plan is for the next year and then you triple it then you’re more likely to achieve that rather than if you’re just dabbling at something half heartedly
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have introduced systems and processes a lot sooner and I would certainly have invested in learning more about the financial side of the business as you don’t know what you don’t know. We think we know, but we learn as we go along. Getting a business coach as soon as possible and reading more are also key elements as you learn from people who’ve been there and done it and you learn how to handle stuff. You need to set up your business with an end goal in mind and not just pay yourself a wage. if I’d known some of these things at the beginning, I could have saved myself a lot of stress
What defines your way of doing business?
I’m obsessive. I go all in; if I have an idea I don’t do it half baked, I gather as much information as I can, I study, I read, I listen to YouTube tutorials, I don’t let anything stop me. Too many people focus on their doubts, but I look at what might go wrong and ensure that it doesn’t go wrong
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Don’t underestimate the importance of numbers. People often go in and offer the best price guarantees and the cheapest prices. For example, you look at a job and think you could earn £100 but if you say that you could earn £200, you can pay someone else to do it that way you can replicate this across the business. Don’t just think about giving yourself an income, look at how you can grow. Always have a plan and work to that plan and listen to others who have succeeded.