Ever wondered what it’s like to run your own business?

When you’re starting or growing a business it can feel like a lonely life. Learning from businesses who have boldly gone before you can be a great source of inspiration.

Here we interview Jamie Stanford, MD of Liberty Games, who sell games room and amusement products like pool tables, arcade machines and air hockey. We asked him what challenges he’s faced and what inspires him in business.

Tell us about your business

Liberty Games is a retailer of games room and amusement products ( etc) to both the private and commercial markets. We were the first full ecommerce website for commercial standard games room equipment in the UK. Our staff members don’t listen to the radio, instead they make selections of their favourite songs on our in house Jukebox!

What inspired you to start your business?

One of my good friends from school had a business renting amusement equipment to pubs and clubs in the local area. Once a product had run its course in the commercial world I would purchase it from him, refurbish the item and sell it. I set up a rather basic web page but before I knew it the number of daily sales had sky rocketed and I had two full time members of staff. From there I set up the first full ecommerce website to cater for the sales of pool tables and other amusement equipment in the UK! 

When did you know it was time to go for it?

I knew it was time to go for it when even the basic website I started with became too big to handle myself, when the turnover clocked past £1m I really knew it was time to get serious.

When people start their own business they wonder what their day will look like. What makes a “typical” day for you?

A typical day starts with speaking to each member of staff individually and seeing what challenges and opportunities they have that day. I then like to make everyone the first hot drink of the day to make sure they know that I am prepared to do everything that I would ever ask of them. Then we may have a sales strategy meeting before lunch and address any customer service issues in the afternoon. If any spare time crops up I speak to new product suppliers, liaise with manufacturers around the world and generally improve the systems operating within the business. A huge amount of my focus is on product selection and creating professional systems so the customer enjoys a consistently good experience every time. Continuous improvement of the website is also regularly at the top of the agenda.

What couldn’t you live without in business?

I would be surprised if we could have survived without the internet and our bespoke customer management system makes the sales volumes and after sales work much easier to handle

What was your biggest business challenge?

The biggest challenge was taking the steps from a one man band to a fully staffed company. The early stages of growth are financially draining on a small start up business and generating a profit during those years can be elusive. To enjoy any financial rewards you must be very patient.

Any moments where you thought you’d blown it/it was all going wrong and what did you learn?

Like any growing business we experienced some critical cash flow situations. I very quickly learnt the important lessons about credit control and the requirement to be honest with your creditors about the situation you find yourself in. Communication and compromise are the key.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received and who was it from?

‘Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity’ Duncan Bannantyne

‘Turn your weaknesses into your opportunities’ Arnold Schwarzenegger

Thanks to Jamie Stanford, MD of Liberty Games, for answering our questions. For more information on some of the topics raised by Jamie we’ve got some free guides to help you:

A step-by-step guide to employing the perfect person

How to manage the cash flow in your business