mono motorcycles journey to date. A very personal reflection.
Written by Katy. A personal reflection.
“Starting your own business is a huge decision to make.
The leap from the seeming security of PAYE into the world of being self-employed, seems on the surface to be a logical & in some cases simple action. However, running your own business is a huge investment, both financially & emotionally. Your business is an extension of you & as it is something you have created & cultured through passion & knowledge; how your business is perceived is a direct reflection of you & your business ethics & ethos.
So, where to begin?
Daniel was in a very well paid & secure job with the AA & had been so for ten years. However, his dream had always been to run his own motorcycle business. Having been working on motorcycles since he was a teenager, having been through an automotive apprenticeship & having worked in the automotive industry all his life; Daniel was already a competent automotive & motorcycle technician in his own right. Therefore, in July 2017 & feeling ever more dissatisfied with the PAYE expectations & with my encouragement; he took the leap & mono motorcycles was born.
It was a giant leap.
Daniel had no investment, no workshop, a considerable tool kit, one motorcycle ramp & an abundance of determination, passion & belief in what he was about to do & he had, from the beginning, my full support.
At the time mono motorcycles was born, I was still a full time teacher & continued to work full time to ensure the fledgling business had an opportunity to find it’s wings. Daniel began the business using our single garage at home as a base & completing mobile motorcycle services.
Very quickly & once the word began to spread, Daniel was working full time with a packed & varied diary. I began creating a social media presence & very soon we realised we were very much in need of a website to create an image for the business & promote what we did.
We also knew we were in need of a workshop space as soon as was possible & during an afternoon stroll, we found a small industrial estate tucked away in one of the small village around our home. Although non of the units were for rent, we stumbled across Monster Creative & wanting to keep as much of our start up investment local, we made contact the very next day.
Tom Joyce of Monster Creative built us the first mono motorcycles website & very soon I had begun blogging weekly about what Daniel had been working on. Towards the end of 2017 we had already got return customers, a website which was generating interest, a social media presence which was gathering followers & a keen understanding that Daniel needed more space & needed it soon.
Therefore, on Christmas day 2017, we headed out for a drive after our Christmas lunch, as the roads were quiet & nosed around a few of the local industrial estates.
We had seen on an online Estate Agent page that a local farm had units for rent. We initially were only looking at a single unit, as the costs for the double were way beyond our budget.
Once the agent & the farm had returned after the Christmas break, we made enquiries about the workshop space. The single units had already gone, leaving only one double unit, whose occupants were looking to be released from their contract early. With a little negotiation which benefitted both parties, we signed up to the double unit at a reduced rate for the first three months.
The stage was set. The mono motorcycles workshop had been found, rented & now we needed to move in.
Therefore, in February 2018 Daniel began the task of moving his one motorcycle ramp & his accumulated tool collection into the workshop. It all looked a little lost in what seemed at the time a cavernous space.
With the support of my family & my Father’s expert building skills; work benches, roll cabs & a small reception area were all built inside the workshop space, suddenly bringing the workshop to life. mono motorcycles had arrived & now we had to fill the diary to ensure we could pay for the rental on the workshop.
Something to consider when starting a business & taking on a premises is how much you have to turn over per month, before you can begin to make a profit. For the mono motorcycles workshop the rent, insurances, electric, water, alarm system, telephone & internet equate to approximately £1500 per month, meaning we could only ever begin to see a marginal profit beyond that sum. This of course does not take in to account the need for investment in tooling, ramps, specialist equipment & of course at some point the ability to take money from what is being earnt to pay for the life needs; home rent, food, car, etc.
At the beginning of February 2018, I made the decision to leave the teaching profession. I had nothing to go to & no plan. It was terrifying to walk away from a £30K+ per year secure employment, to nothing; but with Daniel’s support I too made the leap.
It was particularly challenging once I had left teaching as I needed to find something to pay my own bills & life needs. I found some hours with Helena Parrott of Virtually Smart Ltd as she needed someone to support her with her social media presence & very soon, Daniel realised that having me physically at the workshop, might be a good idea.
Therefore, I moved into the mono motorcycles workshop in March 2018 & began working alongside Daniel & we both began to watch the business grow around us.
One of the most important lessons we have both learnt since the inception of mono motorcycles is how important transparency is.
Transparency in our pricing right from the beginning has been key to ensuring our customers are always kept abreast of their invoice expectations. Using social media to show our customers daily what motorcycles we work on allows transparency in our actions & activities day to day. We have been praised many times that our weekly blogging, updated & photo diaries through our social media representations, are not only a strength; but they also give great reassurance to our customers that we are always acting on their behalf & in the very best interest of their motorcycle.
Since the very humble beginnings in July 2017, the move to the workshop in early 2018, mono motorcycles has seen the customer base grow & grow. We find a lot of our new customers find us through recommendations, our website presence & social media searches. We also found that during 2018 we very much knew Daniel needed more physical help in the workshop. A chance phone call from a young man seeking an apprenticeship in August 2019, now sees us with an apprentice on board. Helena Parrot of Virtually Smart Ltd has also undertaken regular business reviews with us, to enable us to focus on our goals & help us set targets for the growth of the business.
VAT registration was always something we knew would catch up with us in the end & thankfully finding out that for VAT registration your turnover is taking on a rolling year; we will be VAT registered from October 2019. To avoid fines & to ensure our returns are accurate, we have now employed a PT book keeper to process our returns, invoicing & payroll & Daniel & I have just formed a Partnership through the business to ensure it is protected.
In the space of just over 2 years, Daniel’s dream has not only become a reality, but through an enormous amount of determination, dedication, highs & lows, challenges & exhilaration; this fledgling business has now found it’s wings & is beginning to fly.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been some challenging times, which have tested us both; but with belief in the business at the very core of what we do, we have weathered the storms, revelled in the great times & learnt something new every single day. We spend time at the end of every day reflecting on how things have developed during that day, what we have learnt & how can we improve; always striving to create a better customer experience for our customers & rising to the challenges the motorcycles which grace our doors present.”
“If someone was to ask me what is running your own business like, I have recently used the following analogy: ‘Running your own business is a bit like hugging a Teddy bear in a vat of treacle; it’s a struggle, it’s a challenge, but it is ultimately rewarding’ “
Written by Katy Jane. Originally written as part of the Virtually Smart Ltd business blogs.