Name: Julian Aston
Role and company: Executive Chairman and Founder – Suite Ltd
Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):
Turnover – £3.5m. Ebitda – £1.043m.
Employee numbers: 34
Growth forecast for the next three years: our business plan forecasts aggressively a 20% year on year revenue growth.
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace?
Post production is a highly segmented market. We identified a specific niche of television programming – namely comedy – and over the last 10 years have become the leading post production facility in that sector.
Our programmes are broadcast across all major networks every night of the week. We provide a boutique bespoke service with a series of creative and economic solutions for our high end clients.
What’s the big vision for your business?
To consolidate and strengthen our hold on the comedy drama post production sector…and open Suite Hollywood!
Current level of international business, and future aspirations?
We have spent the last 10 years building and consolidating our business in the UK and we now aspire to establishing Suite in Hollywood to service the West Coast network comedy market.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it?
Very early on in my career my business was over dependent on a single major client and when that client‘s ownership changed overnight we almost went under. Ever since I have been mindful of this experience and make every possible effort to ensure that no single client provides us with more than 30% of our turnover.
What makes you mad in business today?
People expecting more and more for less and less. I realise this is not exclusive to television post production but it is particularly maddening as we have to deal with this on an almost daily basis.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?
This is a technical change in the way we deliver the finished programmes for transmission on television. For the last 20 years this has been on videotape but within the next three years almost everything will be delivered as digital files.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?
The problem with raising finance is that when you most need it i.e. when you start up and have no track record, it is almost impossible to obtain. When you have – as we do – a successful, mature profitable business it poses no questions at all. This is a fact of life and I don’t know of any simple solution. You simply have to believe in yourself and take some personal risks.
How would others describe your leadership style? Stylish, approachable and focused.
Your biggest personal extravagance? My wife!
You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper…
I think that anyone with a true entrepreneurial spirit will grow and prosper however I would advise the Prime Minister that all start up business would benefit enormously from a more relaxed tax and employment regime. I would also urge him to provide some special sort of entrepreneurial relief from the standard rate of VAT. For instance, charities are VAT exempt and new businesses could be given a similar exemption for a period of, say, up to three years.
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