Chance always favors the prepared mind. In 2001, Jez Day, CEO of Rustic Stone, started with his business idea after helping a friend engrave stone tables at Chelsea Flower Show.
Photo Courtesy of Jez Day, CEO of Rustic Stone
Day used his knowledge to cut the design templates while his friend was the one who supplied the engraving equipments. Inspired and happy with this work, he decided to start up his own company. This was in spite of being in a difficult stage of his life as his first child was born the same month. Since 2001, Rustic Stone has been specializing in natural stone memorials and house signs in the United Kingdom working primarily with Welsh slate and York stone.
In an email interview, I’ve gotten to know Jez Day better and let’s learn from his story of success as well as some of the challenges which we could learn startup lessons from.
With his courage to leave his job and take the risk, Day has an effigy of a person who was born to be entrepreneurs. “I had had a few jobs with small businesses before this and was never entirely happy working for someone else,” Day shared.
Like in any craft, Day also encountered many challenges along the way. One of which is setting up his own business website. “Looking back, it was pretty awful,” Day remember.
He wrote the HTML code all by himself but as soon as he can afford it, he decided to ask for some help so he could focus on his expertise which is running the business. He suggested that asking for help is not something business owners should be shy of. In fact, he thinks it can lead to faster business growth.
Sticking to the price structure is also one of the personal concerns in the business. Quality wins the day and people are prepared to pay for it.
Day advises the business owners to: “Don’t drop your prices to keep up with your competition when you have a better product”.
One of the best moments in his career is getting his work featured in The Guardian newspaper. “This taught me the power of social networking as it was one of my Pinterest pins that were featured,” he told me.
To make it more exciting, I asked him what will he tell his 20-year-old self if given the chance.
“Take some management courses! Managing difficult customers is a doddle,” he quipped.
Day added that dealing with employees is challenging, to say the least. Aside from making sure your business is up and running smoothly, it is important to take a holiday, relax, and not to stress during the slow periods.
“Switch off from business at the weekend – there’s no need to let a customer’s complaint about clumsy / rude couriers spoil your family time.”
Finally, he said it’s important to trust your judgement – listen to the advices of your trusted mentors, but you need to trust yourself when you think that you are right and they might be wrong as it’s only your own experience that you could truly count on.
To the millennial just starting their careers, Day said it will help to work hard and work smart.
Get the difficult tasks out of the way before the easy ones.
“As an employer, I always take note of the people that attack their workload and take out the difficult tasks while they are still fresh,” he shared. He also advised playing hard when you earned it and worked hard as there’s more to life than just work and you only get one go at it.
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