Conwy Intensive Business Boot Camp Success With Secret Millionaire

A multi millionaire inspired a new generation of business hopefuls at an intensive business boot camp. An initiative of Conwy Rural Business Support, the Business Boot Camp at Glasdir rural development centre in Llanrwst ― the first of its kind ― was hailed an outstanding success by CRBS project officer Anna Openshaw.

‘Secret Millionaire’ star Kevin Green, a dyslexic and homeless runaway in 1984, is now the UK’s largest residential property landlord, with 648 properties. With his Aston Martin parked outside Glasdir, he told about 150 business hopefuls: “Forget recession. It only exists in your mind.”

Nikki Edwards, who set up her Crafty Kitten modelling business in Station Road, Llanrwst, only 18 months ago, found him inspirational. “I make handmade gifts out of polymer clay and sell craft materials. My grandmother bought me my first polymer clay when I was seven and by the time I was 12 I said I would make a business out of it. My dad laughed, but he’s not laughing now,” said Nikki.

With customers in Germany, USA, Netherlands, Sweden and other countries, Nikki’s business, started about 18 months ago, has gone global since she started using facebook around 12 months ago, which allows her to show customers the products on line.

“My order book is already half full and I may have to close it in the next couple of weeks and then I will be working 15 to 16 hours a day.

“I want to get kids crafting again. I’m fed up seeing kids wandering around staring into their mobiles and playing with electronic games, I want them to see the joy of making things. I run a lot of workshops and craft events at the shop which are bringing people into the area.”

It was also a good day for Anglesey IT worker Craig Hughes who was handed a gift worth more than £3,000 for putting his hand up first. When Kevin Green asked the delegates a question, Craig was the first to put his hand up and was rewarded with an invite to attend one of Kevin Green’s much sought-after high-powered business motivation courses in South Wales ― which normally cost over £3,000. Other delegates were also invited to sign up for the course for just £20 as Kevin’s gift to North Wales business hopefuls.

Craig, from Trearddur Bay, works for the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Communities 2.0, which is the Welsh Government’s flagship digital inclusion programme. Craig is an IT worker covering Anglesey, Conwy and Gwynedd, who provides IT advice and guidance for community groups and social enterprises. “He’s an amazing speaker. He just commands attention and is so inspirational,” said Craig.

A delighted Anna Openshaw said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support and interest shown in the business boot camp. This is the first we have done, but hopefully this has been such a great success we would like to do it again.

“We have had some brilliant feedback from the companies that attended, saying how inspiring and how helpful the event had been. They had all learned something useful that they could apply to their own businesses that would help improve what they do and how they do it, with the aim of boosting their bottom line.”

Hard work, self belief and not being ‘distracted’ was the message throughout the day from Llanelli-based Kevin Green. He said: “I had a job once. I think it stands for ‘Just Over Broke’!

“Identify what your passion is in life and make it your living. If you chase money it will run away from you. Chase what is true to you. Only one person is going to make a difference in your life, and that is you.”

Among the other role models who conducted workshops were Gareth Jones, MD of  St Asaph based energy saving experts Carbon Zero, and Steven Burgess, a former weapons and bomb disposal expert from Wrexham, who has set up his own consultancy company, Proactionman Limited, to help motivate and train people to start up their own business with little cash.

Gareth told his audience: “All newcomers need to be pro-active; no more 9 to 5 any more. Learn to communicate through emails, texts, twitter and build relationships. Remember, customers first and they are always right ― even if they’re not.

“Likely problems newcomers will encounter include finance to start the business in the first place, going into business with the wrong people, getting credit and an overdraft facility, getting regular money to pay staff and contractors, insurance policies with no previous history, premises, business loans and balancing work and home life.

“My secret tips to getting business? You are only as good as your last job. Join an organisation but get involved. Network, network and network. Get your customers to recommend you to others. PR does work. Create an aura around your business and finally, graft!”

Steve Burgess told his workshop: “What you need in business is discipline, being focussed on the task ahead, keeping business and personal debt to a minimum and not being distracted by everyday goings on like the internet (a great research tool though), news, gossip and negative stuff that is detrimental to your success.

“Fortitude, when times are tough and you need to rely on yourself rather than just expecting a pay cheque at the end of the month. Dedication to learning, because by increasing your skill base you push the boundaries of your minds. Plan your route, set goals. Accept responsibility for your own lives and strive for positivity.”

For more information about the free support and advice that’s available to small businesses in rural Conwy contact Anna Openshaw either by emailing or ringing 01492 577834/5.