This week, we feature James Howard of Yorkshire Payments, who looks back on his business career to date.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
I felt underwhelmed by the lack of customer service offered by big, corporate, high street banks. I knew that small businesses were another number to the bank and service wasn’t necessarily reflected in how they advertised themselves. I therefore wanted to create a Yorkshire brand for Yorkshire businesses where they can call a local telephone number, speak to local people, and receive service which is as good as expected.
What is your business motto?
Straight talking card solutions
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
Be tenacious and never judge a book by its cover. You just don’t know who you are going to be working with. That one customer could be a secret millionaire – you just don’t know. Treat everyone exactly the same.
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
Building credibility was certainly a challenge whilst setting up. I was entering a market which has been dominated by the banks for the past 50+ years. To offer a product like the well-known banks do, and ask new and established businesses to work with a new and unknown firm over a high-street name, was initially a tough ask.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
The freedom to dictate how we operate. Having the ability to speak freely as opposed to working for a big corporate and being told how to act or what to say is great!
What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?
The red tape – as much as Yorkshire Payments is a flexible, free-speaking and accommodating company, we do work within a heavily regulated sector. I understand why but it can limit us which is frustrating.
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
I admire local businessman, Gareth Henderson, founder of Orchard Group. He is local and similar to me in that he is a young entrepreneur who sought similar help from Eric Binns, business adviser of Calderdale Council as I did. He had an idea that he came to fruition and, operating in a difficult sector, dominated by high street corporates, he competed very well and has recently sold the company for a healthy profit. Gareth portrays the traits which I believe are key to a successful business – tenacity and hard graft.
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
We are proud to support the local community but I am really proud that we have very recently started to work with a lot more large, national and even global enterprises. We’re now working with large local businesses Wilby’s, HTAFC, J&C Joel, Ossett Brewery and Snickers Workwear.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
Over the next five years we will be rolling out a number of franchise opportunities for other geographic areas across the UK. Developing a similar strategy based on the success of Yorkshire Payments, this will provide other emerging entrepreneurs the opportunity to take the reins in their local areas, to provide a local option for businesses rather than businesses in their regions having to rely on the banks.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
Something for charity where people could walk past a poster / billboard and scan a watch to make a charity donation.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
I would enjoy a day working for Huddersfield Town HTAFC organising match days because I’m a huge football fan.