Shutting up shop and trying again
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Kevin Fortune, founder and managing director of IT business Sussed IT, explains why his best business decision was to sack himself and start all over again.
I had originally set up the business with a partner that I had opportunistically met at Selfridges department store in London. But pretty quickly the two of us realised that we had different ideas about which direction the company should take.
The business was founded to provide in home installation for computers, primarily Apple products, and got up to a size where we had revenues of £500,000.
However, quite early on it became clear that we had contrasting desires: I wanted to be in it for the long haul and build a business, whereas he just wanted a get-rich-quick scheme.
I made some mistakes in that I didn't compile a formal shareholder agreement early on. Trying to shoe-horn one in when the relationship had started to deteriorate didn't help either of us (or the business) very much, and ended up making my partner feel quite cornered. I also got caught up in the idea of having my own business. I liked the idea of the fancy offices and having the biggest chair, spending money on unnecessary things when our overheads should have been quite low.
Rather than carry-on and both pull in different directions, I decided to take myself out of the company and effectively start again. At first I was a little plagued by self-doubt and thought I couldn't do it on my own. Part of me thought I’d just take my money and blow it all travelling round the world! Ultimately I didn't do that but decided, after years of struggle and having built a reputation for myself, to start all over again and create a business where I could work from anywhere.
Working without a team, as I was used to, unquestionably toughened me up, and my core survival instincts come into play (at the end of the day survival is the key to being an entrepreneur). You have nobody to lean on or turn to directly.
Moving forward, if I took on a partner I would definitely spend more time getting to know them and making sure our plans were aligned. For now I have had to seek out mentors instead, those who've been there and done it. It was a risk, but so far it's one that has paid off.
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