Name: Ian Thomas

Age: 47

Company: Commercial cleaning services firm Jani-King

Turnover: £15m

First job: Mars graduate trainee. Taught me a lot and made me realise very quickly that the corporate world didn’t suit me unless I owned the company. 

Dream job: Professional golfer

Car: I have five children under the age of 15 so I drive a Land Rover.

Economy, business or first class: Economy for short haul flights and often the budget airlines. You get what you pay for. Anything over five hours and I must admit I travel business or first class. I do justify it because it’s one of my most productive times for idea generation and resolution of problems (because no-one can interrupt me).

Most extravagant purchase: I splurged on a car some years ago.

Most played song on iPod: “You won’t feel a thing” by The Script.

Best business book: E-Myth by Michael Gerber. I learned many things from Gerber at the start of my entrepreneurial track but three points always stood out: i) Most entrepreneurs fail because they work IN their business rather than ON it. ii) People who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know, but because they have an insatiable need to know more. iii) The greatest business people are determined to get it right no matter what the cost. 

Worst business moment: The banking collapse in 2008.

Proudest business moment: Winning back one of my most important customers after losing them a year earlier. I was determined to get it right.

Business mentor: A private equity manager I met 20 years ago, now a big shot in Australia. He continually helps me understand how to look at a business as a stand-alone living thing.

Next big thing: Asia Pacific

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