A while ago, i did a feature on Charlie, It outlines how he started his company, Charlie webster is the 24 years old founder of albatross villa, a company he started five years ago, but i wanted to ask him a bit more, Things i could not know until i asked him, here is our conversation, Hope you enjoy it.
Hi Charlie, Thanks for taking time to speak to us on YHP, How are you doing today?
Very well thanks. A little busy after the bank holiday period!
How often do you travel?
I travel about twice a month to Portugal but it can vary depending on clients.
Can you give some brief background information about you and what you do?
I’m 24 and run 3 companies. A holiday letting company in the UK called Albatross Villas ltd, an estate agency in Portugal called Albatross Villas Lda and a new estate agency in the UK called Websters Residential Ltd.
At what stage did you realise you wanted to go into business and not return back to the university?
When the workload got too much to study at the same time as trying to run the holiday company.
If you go back in time? Would you still make the same decision?
Yes definitely, without a doubt.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
Approx 10 hours a day including most weekends.
Describe/outline your typical day?
I start by having a coffee! Can never start work without it! Then look at my emails and reply to them, which normally takes all morning. After lunch I have meetings with sales clients and conduct valuations and viewings on our properties.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
To be honest I love selling property. Its what I was born to do! I can’t lie that the money also pushes me to keep going.
Is this your first business?
The holiday company was which I set up about 5 years ago. I now have 2 other companies.
Do you have a favourite business tool or resource?
Google! Or rightmove.
How do you manage the growth of your company?
With difficulty. I find it very hard to delegate work to other staff. Its something that I certainly need to learn to do better as it will hold the businesses back if I’m not careful.
What do you think are the key lessons to entrepreneurship?
To take risks, although they have to be calculated risks otherwise you will just chuck money down the drain.
What are the revenues of the business?
The new Estate agency is a start up so no revenue yet, but the 2 Albatross companies turnover about £400,000 a year.
How have sales grown in the last few years?
We had a very good 2007/8 but the last few years sales have decreased due to the current economy and exchange rate fluctuations. Some management projects are on-going though which is bringing in good income.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
Taken risks. Although in the early years I certainly made my fair share of mistakes! I’m a bit more careful with my money now. No more big adverts in magazines which costs £1,000’s but brought no sales!
What has been your most effective marketing tactic or technique?
Probably word of mouth! But google adwords and SEO have helped promote the business online.
Do you think it is still effective to always have a business plan?
Not always but it helps to meet and reach targets you set yourself and the business to achieve. I didn’t have a business plan for my first company as it grew gradually but for my new company it is essential.
What are the best ways for businesses especially start-up to manage their finances during tough times especially in this financial downturn?
Look at all your overheads and reduce or even cut the one’s the company don’t need in a recession. You also need to cut your marketing budget otherwise you will put the company in a cashflow problem.
Where do you see in yourself and your business in the next 5 years?
Hopefully with a few more estate agent offices in the UK.
What is the most crucial decision you’ve made so far regarding your business?
To say yes to everything and not turn down any opportunities it brings.
What’s your biggest distraction?
Food! or if there’s a good sporting event on, like the Masters golf or England playing rugby!
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
I admire a lot of other estate agencies in the UK. Some of the big companies and household names that have grown from one office to over 100 in just in the last 10 years. Also James Villa Holidays are a good Holiday company that I look up to.
What sacrifices did you have to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
I lost contact with a lot of my friends but otherwise I probably haven’t sacrificed too much. Its difficult to turn my work head offi in the evening so I guess my girlfriend gets pretty fed-up with me talking about it the whole time!
What are most-does for any young entrepreneur starting out in the holiday industry?
Have contacts in the industry and knowing some villa owners to start you with a few properties will help enormously. Holidays are all about small commissions but if you obtain a lot of bookings for your owners then it will turn into a good profitable company, as long as you look after your overheads!
Thanks for your time.
Thanks for having me.
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