In the space of six years, Barry Randall has gone from working in the music industry, to becoming partner of a hugely successful landscaping company that has worked on a host of projects; one of which was part of a huge undertaking filmed for the hit BBC television programme, ‘DIY SOS’.
It’s an incredible story, which appears to be just getting started – and one in which the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity has played its part.
Barry, alongside his brother, Jeff, started Leicestershire Garden Design under the name Small Landscapes in 2007. Providing services including decking and timber solutions, driveways and block paving, garden design, lawns and soft landscaping, and patios and flagstones; the company has grown by leaps and bounds – although, as Barry reveals, it wasn’t the brothers’ first venture in business.
“In many ways, ours is a strange story,” explained Barry. “Of all things, we actually started a record company – with the help of the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity – back in 2002. The aim was to use the record company to help distribute music, some of which we had written ourselves, as we performed in a band. The company never did what we set out for it to do. We paid the loan back and thought that, whilst we weren’t perhaps so good at being musicians, we should definitely carry on doing landscaping, something that we had done since we left school. We went back to the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity with the idea of our landscaping business and everything went from there.”
Having already worked with the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity to get their initial idea off the ground, Barry admits that there was a sense of familiarity when it came to applying for a business loan; however, he was pleasantly surprised with the application’s ease and revealed that many people he knows have also contacted the Charity for assistance.
“Even the first time, we found it (loan application) a really easy process to go through,” he said. “I would say that the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity’s assistance was essential. We didn’t have anything to start a business, so without the Charity’s input and the money that they lent to us, it would have been impossible for us to get started.
“I know a few people that have obtained help through the Charity,” Barry added. “My wife also started her business with help from the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity and she is still running that business today. Her business started before we started Small Landscapes.
“For people like me, earning a very average wage, to go from that situation to running my own business without any input from the banks; there’s no other organisation that provides the service that the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity does.”
Having endured tough times during the course of the nationwide recession, Leicestershire Garden Design has come out on the other side literally blooming. Currently recruiting to expand the company’s close-knit team, plans are afoot to launch an exciting new premises which will deliver a completely different dimension to the company’s offering to the public.
“Since we started, business has been a real roller-coaster,” Barry said.
“After six-and-a-half years, I feel that we’re starting to establish ourselves and that’s down to getting a slight lift in the economy and us having clarity as to how we want the business to look once it’s finished. This year, we have moved into bigger premises and we’re building a sample centre and indoor showroom, which will allow our central customers the opportunity to see what we do in a nice environment. This is being done without any support from banks, through hard work and watching our figures.”
As far as business stories go, Barry’s is one that can provide inspiration to budding entrepreneurs looking to make their ideas a reality – and his words of advice are simple.
“Do your research,” he insisted. “Especially today, it is really important to find your niche market, because there are a lot of businesses popping up. If you can find your niche market, you just need to work really hard to make your business a success. If you can get a foothold, you next need to get some clarity as to how you want the business to look once it’s finished. If you get that clarity of how you want the business to look once it’s finished, and you have your end goal, it’s much easier to put processes together to make it happen.”
For more information on Leicestershire Garden Design, Barry and his team – and to take a look at their extensive galleries of completed projects – visit www.leicestershiregardendesign.co.uk