“Why did I decide to set up my own business? I ask myself that in times of crisis!” he jokes. His self-deprecation belies the company’s success. His clients include160 of the FT Global 500 and 40 of the FTSE 100. Is there a secret to winning such heavy-weight clients? “We never promise what we can’t deliver,” says Evans. “We also recruit employees with a background in industry and commerce, not just consulting.” Evans has survived three recessions and advises other entrepreneurs “not to batten down the hatches just yet”. “The media has a responsibility for the emotional economy of this country,” he warns. “You can talk yourself into a recession. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t react by cutting their costs too quickly. Remember: you can sell your way out of a downturn.” His own business hasn’t suffered so far. “We’re in a lucky position where we have huge balance sheets and the banks just love us!” He’s even taking on new markets and will be opening an office in Beijing shortly after the Olympics. “I spent nine months reading up on the history of the country and studying Taoism,” he says. “I also sponsored conferences out there, where I was the key speaker. The best litmus test of whether your business is ripe for a country is how many business cards you get at the end.” In October this year, he’ll be taking another important trip – to Buckingham Palace, where he’ll be receiving an MBE for his services to CSR. “It’ll be a bit of a do. I’ll have to dig out a hat and a suit.” “If you can do something in return for the community in which you work, you’ll get more respect for the company,” he says. Grass Roots is allocating 11 per cent of its planned commercial budget for this year to CSR projects. This includes sponsorship of local events, waste management, environmental accreditation and investment in energy-efficient lighting. His company also owns the local theatre, which it rents out to the local community for a nominal fee. “I took my five-year-old son to the matinée performance of Oliver. At the end of the show, the director stood up and gave a speech about all the things I’d done for the community,” he says. “I got a standing ovation from the audience. "It’s things like that that make running your own business so worthwhile.”
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