Any entrepreneur that says there’s never any personal feelings involved when you sell your business is either a cold-hearted liar or has ice running through their veins.
It doesn’t matter whether the business has been running for five years or 50 years, entrepreneurs put their blood, sweat and tears into making the enterprise a success, so when it’s time to say goodbye, there’s always a sense of loss.
Having recently sold Pimlico Plumbers after 42 years, I am not afraid to admit I had a whirlwind of feelings as the sale approached.
Building a business is like bringing up a child, from its formative years through to accomplishing great things and having an excellent reputation.
In fact, many company founders will tell you their families have sometimes played second fiddle to the business over the years, which is often a shame, but sometimes a necessity. This is especially true of those who go into business for bread and shoes and to give their families a better life.
Some people, however, set out to be entrepreneurs, always thinking of the next enterprise they can start and build.
But most others are more accidental. This is sometimes as a result of redundancy or moving areas where they take a skill or trade they have and use it to start a business.
Others, like myself, took their trade and used it to start a business because they couldn’t see themselves working for anyone else.
I wanted to change the plumbing business, which, back in the 1970s and 80s, had a terrible reputation for cowboy tradesmen and rip-off merchants who’d turn up in a rust-bucket van, with their backsides hanging out of their trousers, and do a terrible job.
I could only do this by running my own business and serving the affluent parts of London and knew I had to do things differently. My customers were used to going into posh restaurants in Knightsbridge and shops on Bond Street. So why would they want to invite some scruffy urchin into their homes?
It was this approach that Pimlico Plumbers was built upon and flowed through every part of the business. From the immaculately clean vans to the crisp branded engineers’ uniforms and even putting our rates on the website ‘ something that’s still very rare in the plumbing game.
While this doesn’t sound very ground breaking now, for my industry it really stood out and became a template for lots of businesses up and down the country.
It helped us become the largest independent home services company in the UK and regularly tweaked the interest of potential investors and acquirers.
I have always kept my mind open to anything that could help the business grow, but while I loved what we were doing, why would I even think of selling.
Don’t get me wrong, up until I signed the deal with Neighborly to buy the business, I still loved every second of running Pimlico Plumbers with my family and amazing team.
But I also knew there are other things I want to do and, for the first time I was approached by a business that could take Pimlico forward in a way that I was happy with.
So, while I was sad to close the Pimlico Plumbers chapter of my life, I am really excited, as you’d expect from an entrepreneur, about what’s next.
This includes getting involved in the music industry. I’m a huge music fan, although I can’t hold a note in the shower, but I have always been fascinated by how the industry works.
I’ve got a couple of artists, including an amazing solo artist called RARA, and I am advising them on the business aspects of their careers alongside a team of experienced producers, publishers and PR people.
Also, as someone who has spent their life in and out of some amazing homes, including some of my own, I have a real interest in property and am looking at some investments, particularly in Spain to grow a portfolio.
I am eternally proud of what I achieved with Pimlico Plumbers and thank everyone in the business who has contributed to its success. While it was strange to say goodbye to my business baby, I will be proud to see it continue to grow from afar while I take my own new journey into exciting entrepreneurial endeavours.