Opinion

How do you grow into a successful entrepreneur? It's all in the climb

5 min read

19 February 2019

How do you become a self-made entrepreneur? Through hard work and sheer determination. The way you get there is through the experiences you build, and the important decisions you're bound to make. In other words, it's all in the climb.

I’ve been lucky enough to have several life-long passions, the most important being my family, boxing and, of course, plumbing. With my early years divided between setting up the fledgling Pimlico Plumbers and practising the noble art, you could say my life was metaphorically and literally quite a fight.

Whilst injury forced me from the ring, the sport taught me many lessons which I transferred to the world of business, such as dedication, discipline and determination. However, another passion I quickly developed was that of being an entrepreneur.

From an aspiring boxer to where I am today

I’m immensely proud to have grown the Pimlico Group into the UK’s largest independent home services company and even prouder to see it develop into a real family affair – involving two of my children, four grandchildren, two sons-in-law and my wife, Julie.

Last year, I considered the possibility of offering an investor 20% of the business, with the aim to inject some new perspectives and finance into the business.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a financially comfortable fella who loves getting behind the wheel of my beloved Bentley or enjoying the odd exotic holiday or two. But I’ve never forgotten my working-class roots – on the tough streets of London’s Elephant & Castle – and the amount of blood, sweat and tears willingly given to get me where I am today.

“That’s why I recently concluded there will be no share sell-off; Pimlico will remain 100% Mullins-owned.”

Naturally, my desire has been reinforced by the fact that Pimlico Group achieved record revenues of almost £44m last year, following a record-breaking summer.

As the business gets more successful, I only want to get MORE involved

I don’t wish to take a back seat because I realised my passion for the business remains as strong today as it did in 1979 when I first started out.

In fact, I feel I’m even more qualified to be an entrepreneur, with a wealth of business experience, contacts, and a strong determination to be the best – together with plenty of fresh and innovative ideas.

Entrepreneurialism has no age

That being said, I don’t think maturing age is a restricting factor in business. Look at entrepreneurs like former Dragons’ Den star, Duncan Bannatyne, whose rise to business brilliance began with a £450 ice cream van. He recently celebrated his 70th birthday but still takes a keen and active interest in his nationwide empire of fitness clubs, hotels and spas.

Then there’s 68-year-old Sir Richard Branson who founded the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies. His first venture, at the age of 16 was a student magazine, before launching a mail-order record business.

I’ve previously touched on the new (or should that be old!) generation of ‘oldpreneurs’ in the UK, who are setting up and running their own successful businesses in later life.

“One study of over-60s in work found 38% believe it is beneficial to their physical and mental wellbeing, a further 38% enjoy the work they do while 15% like working alongside other people.”

That also remains true even when you are a millionaire, whether it’s me, Duncan or Sir Richard.

Moving forwards: The climb continues

“I receive great satisfaction in seeing Pimlico’s record revenue figures, knowing that I was able to take on 50 new engineers and tradespeople, as well as 20 staff in head office – bringing the workforce up to more than 450 people.”

Like many SME owners, such success is a real vindication and I remain truly excited about the next chapter of my expansion plans.

I realised that I still have plenty of fight in me and I’m determined to remain at the helm, striving for even greater success. It’s not about the money – but about continuing to nurture what has been my life’s work.