A Guide to Starting and Running a Small Business by David Ashdown - HTML preview

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About the Author


In 1974, whilst still at school and at the grand old age of 13, David started his first business. Three months earlier he had started a Saturday job cleaning windows for a local firm and had quickly realized that the company offered little in terms of customer satisfaction.


"The owner simply wanted me to rush from house to house as quickly as possible, so that he could collect as much money as possible", David recalls. "Customers often complained and I got the brunt of it as the owner was never around. He would drop me off at the start of the day and then collect me at the end and all he was interested in, was how much money I had collected. When I told him so-and-so were unhappy, he would just shrug it off and say there were plenty more customers around".


Disillusioned, David realized there had to be a better way and spoke to one of the full time guys. "Dan was older than me, had a car, some ladders and the same disillusioned frustration as me but didn't have the confidence to approach customers and start out on his own".


It was a perfect match, David had no shyness in 'knocking on doors' so in July 1974 Dave and Dan started their own round. Dan supplied the vehicle and materials and David found the work, and with their combined belief of 'keeping the customer satisfied', they gained just as many new customers through recommendation as they did by cold calling.


By 1976, Dave and Dan had built up a solid round "even though school often got in the way!" David says jokingly, and had accumulated a 'tidy sum of money' simply by offering great customer service. Plans had been hatched to expand into office & industrial cleaning, until his father put a stop to it all and told him to 'get a proper job'.


Reluctantly, David sold his share to Dan and took a job in Estate Agency in North London but within a few years he had the urge again to 'go it alone' and in 1981 he started buying, converting and renovating old houses and selling them on for a profit.


David achieved solid success throughout the 1980's dealing in an impressive portfolio of property transactions, including the development of an early Tesco Superstore and the relocation of an NHS Hospital. During this time, David established himself as a successful entrepreneur and property developer. In 1988