089: Top 3 Business Challenges – Electrician

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David: "It's David Lee here from Instant Internet Identity. Today I'd like to ask you Emmanuel from Eco Electrical Engineers Ltd what are your three top challenges as an electrician running your own small business?"

Emmanuel: "My top 3 challenges in electrical engineering is

  1. leads to the right type of clients,
  2. competent staff to carry out the job,
  3. my lifestyle.

The first one, the leads. There are quite a lot of electrical work out there, but getting the right kind of people, the right type of clients, it's a bit [inaudible]. One of the experiences I've had as an individual when I carried out electrical work on 110 flats and offices in the city.

Unfortunately, the client paid...the arrangement was for four instalments, and he paid three, and at the third time unfortunately he disappeared. These are one of the challenges. I had to go through the courts to get my money back, but unfortunately that's the legal way it is in this country. I lost the time. I lost quite a lot of money, about £200,000, and finally at last I never got the money back.

The second one was staffing. In electrical engineering you might have the good quality in terms of qualification, but something you need to add to it is the practical know-how. You can't have one without the other.

So, the staff, getting the right staff that is competent, academically up to date. That requires what the British standard requires which is what they call BS7671, as well as inspection and testing of properties, or whatever, installation commercial or domestic. It's a very important factor, because any error committed on this installation carried out in any way, you are responsible.

Thirdly, lifestyle. Because of my nature of work, and I've been in it for quite a long time, I am more or less work 7 days a week. And I don't have time for my own self-luxury, comfort, like that. So that's the three challenges I face."

David: "So, if I could just summarise, you are probably typical of many small businesses in a variety of ways. You work in a specific industry, but you are dealing with customers, staff and yourself.

Your difficulties is not with your competence. You're doing the work. It is all the peripheral things that make running a business quite different to being an electrician."

Emmanuel: "Yes."

David: "Where did you get training at your electrical college to do all this Emmanuel?"

Emmanuel: "Oh, that's quite interesting because I've been  electrical competent when I was around 11 years I followed my dad who was a mechanical engineer. And those days I use to alkaline batteries. I can align the batteries, 50 of them."

David: "Who told you how to run a small business? How to manage staff? How to manage your own time? And how to get customers? What manual was that in?"

Emmanuel: "Well there was no.. I didn't have any practical, no I didn't. Because when I went to technical school I came here and did my electrical engineering at the university... and those management aspect... the literal, general management aspect is what I tend to gather and do it myself."

David: "That is why, as we conclude, that is where many small businesses come undone. They have no training in how to be a business owner, a business entrepreneur, but they very good at what they do! But never got training."

Thank you very much for this insight into your business as an electrical engineer. Thank you."

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