How I decided to suit myself in business

Leeds retailer and entrepreneur Gordon Inglis on how he swapped accountancy for rapid success in the competitive world of textiles.

With the end of another year in sight, how many of us will be making the usual resolutions in January to make a big change? For many, working flat out in workplace – or worse, contemplating possible redundancy next year - that potential ‘big change’ might be the leap into self-employment.

Being your own boss, taking back control over your own future and seeing the fruits of all those hard hours going directly into your pockets rather than lining those of others seems an incredibly attractive prospect. So why don’t more of us follow through and turn those day-dreams into reality?

The truth is that most new business start-ups fail. The banks are not keen to lend money these days and it takes a real leap of faith to leave the comfort of a familiar role and a regular monthly salary.

Nonetheless, that’s what I did this time last year. I’d been a chartered management accountant working in the financial services sector for some years, but had always planned to work for myself. I’m quite a considered sort of chap and cautious by nature, so I spent plenty of time researching my options.

My investigations led me to franchising as a safer opportunity to be my own boss, but with the safety net of an established brand and an experienced management team to guide me. What’s more, I discovered that failure rates for franchised businesses were minimal compared to the start from scratch, go it alone alternatives.

The next surprise was the huge number of business opportunities there are to choose from, covering just about every market sector; different formats – from man and a van operators to retail, business services, fast-food and more – with investment levels ranging from less than £10,000 up to £350,000+

I looked at several possible alternatives, read articles, visited exhibitions and took plenty of advice. I didn’t want to work in financial services any longer and ultimately opted for something completely removed from anything I’d done before.

After all, I reasoned, this was my chance to change direction and do something that would bring not only financial rewards, but variety, challenge and real satisfaction.

In the end, I chose mobile made-to-measure tailoring franchise, Suit the City. A far cry from accountancy, but it appealed to me because I’m from a corporate background I liked the aspirational nature of the product; I felt that I understood the market for smart, well-fitting suits that look great and feel comfortable, I could relate to my potential customers and, most importantly, I could see how I could make money. It helped too that there’s a long history for the textile industry in this region.

Of course, I ran the figures obsessively before making the commitment, but almost a year later, I look back and can honestly say I have no regrets.

I don’t miss the pressures of the corporate world, I have independence and autonomy, although support is always there when I need it, and now I have the best wardrobe of suits in town!