From petrol pump attendant to Chairman of the British Franchise Association has been a varied and interesting journey for Brian Lewis. This week we were lucky enought have a quick catch up with Brian Lewis, the found of Cash Generator, Princes Trust business mentor and much more.
Can you start with a brief introduction about yourself and your business?
I am now retired, but I started 10 different businesses from the age of 20 years to 60 years of age, ranging from pizza restaurants, serviced rental offices, finance and finally Cash Generator.
As a child did you have an entrepreneurial attitude?
To be honest I had no entrepreneurial ambition until i turned about 17 years old.
How did you get your idea or concept for your first business?
For my first business, it was simply a friend asking me to be involved in the tyre industry, really simple.
Why was you in business?
I wanted material wealth, especially fast cars.
What was your mission at the outset?
Mission was not to go bust, it was as simple as that. I was fully focussed on my business and making sure it was a success.
How did you advertise your business?
We used to mainly advertise in newspapers alongside direct marketing to companies.
How different would your marketing be now?
If I was starting now I would certainly be using social media at it’s max capacity and direct adverts to special consumers. I believe that my business would have grown much quicker than it did in the first place, now you really have the opportunity to market to anyone and everyone. It is very exiting.
Do you miss being in business? If the right opportunity came along would you take it?
I do not miss business as 40 years of employing people was enough for me….
It would need to be a special situation to get me back in business and the person / people would need to be special.
Who did you seek advice from for your business?
In the first business that i started, my friend guided me. After that for my other companies, I only had myself to help me and had to learn quickly and adjust to each scenario.
To what do you attribute your success?
My success was down to very hard work, perseverance more than others and a sprinkle of good luck! I believe most people can be succesful if they have a talent and work harder than all of their competitors – but that sprinkle of luck certainly helps.
Have you ever turned down a client?
One of the perks of being your own boss is not having to deal with those you do not want to do business with, so yes.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
My advice would be to research the business you want to start, start it and never stop working harder than your competitors.
You obviously volunteer as a business mentor for the Princes Trust now, how did you get involved in that?
A financial advisor introduced me to the Princes Trust and I was and am very impressed with the way they help so many people, that is of course how I met yourselves over 2 years ago.