This week’s Business Focus is with Euan Noble, of the ROKT climbing gym in Brighouse.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
I am an entrepreneur - ROKT came along as a potential idea after I had moved out of academia and worked briefly in corporate in the pharmaceutical industry, with a series of businesses ranging from executive search to health economic consulting and property investment and development spanning 15 years, doing something well outside my comfort zone was just too tempting!
What is your business motto?
Get started and solve the problems on route, don’t listen to the arm chair entrepreneurs and naysayers and above all listen to your intuition.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
Do your research, assess the market, see if what you have stacks up, write a business plan and ask people who you respect, in business, to review it, think about the numbers, talk to the bank or many banks, I took my first business plan to 20 banks before the first one decided to lend. Start small and evolve, make sure you can afford to live off nothing for at least 2 years and then work 12 hours days until you succeed, oh and don’t forget to network, there are amazing people out there who will help, you need to ask!
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
Starting a business is a huge challenge, I have no fear of negotiating with lenders, but the world of finance today is just about as bad as it gets. In 1997 money was awash in the market, now if you want to buy new shoelaces you need to write a personal guarantee and give at least a pint of blood. Seriously the challenge is “the mindset” all the rest is just detail and lot of hard work. Don’t start a business if you want to lie in and relax at the weekends.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
Developing people, creating jobs and above creating everything from nothing.
What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?
Nothing - after 25 years in business my motivation is as strong now, if not stronger than it was when I set out on my first venture and I don’t see anything to temper that enthusiasm.
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
I read Richard Branson’s unauthorised autobiography when I was writing up my PhD in 1990 and every page, every scenario he faced and the way he dealt with them was like a blue print, he also like taking risks, something close to my heart, I love to climb, ride motorbikes, I learned to paraglide and hang-glide and in 1998 received my private pilots licence for helicopters.
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
Building successful teams and delivering results and above all staying in business long enough to make it / them successful - specifically relating to Calderdale - rebuilding ROKT after the floods - note this was driven by the incredible people who came to help / clean / donate - the achievement is building something that a community gets behind and cherishes. On a very personal note, being part of the initial group of trustees enabling someone special to set up a homeless charity.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
In the past 19 months post FLOOD, ROKT moved from being an indoor climbing wall to a whole raft of fantastic complimentary elements. ROKTFACE in collaboration with Active Calderdale will bring thousands to Brighouse / and Calderdale, we have opened an indoor spin studio which is incredible (R1DE), nerf arena (HIDEANDSHOOT), 3 escape rooms (PROJECT BREAKOUT), launched a restaurant (47Grains) and in a few months a GB athlete training facility. Honestly with plans to franchise, sell our own software solution who knows but we have the team to make it all work.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
A drug to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
I am not employable in any sense of the word, so I’d have to politely decline any offers!