Ex-Army Veteran and craftsman Tony Grant from Lincoln is not someone who lets obstacles stand in his way, not even in business. Soon after losing his sight in an industrial accident, when just 28 years old, he saw that an entrepreneurial path was the only real opportunity for self-fulfillment.
He started his first business in 1992, whilst still studying towards a new direction in careers at university. This business went on to attain Government contracts for almost every region in the UK. It was also responsible for establishing new thinking for the provision of services to people with disabilities – many of those practices are now seen as commonplace throughout the industry.
Tony feels his strength lays in what he defines as Seeing Beyond Vision; an entrepreneurial asset that enables him to see opportunity where others have yet to see it even exists.
Now, after taking a few years out to re-think his life and ambitions, Tony is ready to push forward with a new portfolio of ideas. He has clear objectives and these include providing security and stability for his new and younger family.
The first incarnation was Local Global Marketing, a company that brings global marketing trends to the localised business market. This was born out of Tony’s own passion for digital marketing, and from skills he had learned from his own online affiliate marketing successes. When viewing the local online marketing landscape, it was clear that there was a lack of deep understanding around online business promotion methods. While he knew he could not change the marketplace overnight, he felt that by providing an ethical and effective service, he might at least connect with local businesses and support some of those in need of genuine help.
During the first year of trading, the business started to gain traction. This was mostly as a result of Tony’s attendance at an X-Forces Enterprise training week, held in Brighton and supported by Blind Veterans UK.
Tony reached out into the community of ex-service people, and offered support with their online marketing endeavours. However, this business model was not ideal as it depended almost exclusively upon Tony’s own knowledge, rather than the collective learning of the team that surrounded him.
“When the longer-term intention is to sack yourself, this business presented a flawed strategy.”
This realisation led to a rethink, and, while still supporting the growth of Local Global, Tony is now rapidly moving towards a new business venture that will fulfil his goal to extract himself from the daily business within 5-8 years.
Once again, this new business model is grown out of Seeing Beyond Vision. Tony has moved house twice in the past 18 months. On both occasions, he has struggled to find reliable Home Services, such as window cleaners, gardeners, house cleaners etc. He saw that the process of setting these services up is frustrating, complex and unreliable – “Frankly not something that belongs in our modern, digital society”. Even when a household finds these services, they still have to manage 3 or 4 separate business relationships, often with cash-in-hand when these trades-people arrive at the door, many a time without prior notification. The new business sets out to remedy all of these frustrations. It puts the management of home services into one simplified app, making it as easy as it really could, and should, be.
The branding of this new venture was also deeply thought out. Tony wanted a name that was related to Home Services, but not tied to cleaning or cutting grass etc. It had to allow the business to expand at a later stage, as it continues to penetrate the private housing market.
The new venture – Residentia – will undoubtedly present challenges for Tony. Not only are there day-to-day issues of business management to deal with, these are compounded by a need to access the computer using screen reader technology. Being without sight has its difficulties based in the ability to overcome what others might see as fundamental tasks. While assistive technology provides tools that have enabled Tony’s entrepreneurial endeavours, it is still far short of being wholly reliable. In the end, an entrepreneurial spirit will win through and persist, no matter what challenges are faced.
Tony explains, “There is no other way. Having your own business as a disabled person gives fulfilment, a sense of self-worth, and a status within our communities that we possibly might not hold otherwise”.
Tony feels the support offered by XFE, and the other associated organisations, has given him the strength and support to continue. He firmly believes that mentoring and networking are at the root of success and, if thinking of following your own entrepreneurial dreams or ambitions, then maybe it is time for you to reach out and connect with X-Forces Enterprise.
You can view Tony’s business portfolio at the following links:
If you’re considering self-employment like Tony, we run a series of free Self-Employment Discovery Workshops! Find out more via http://bit.ly/xfevents
X-Forces Enterprise (XFE)
Is an award-winning Community Interest Company that nurtures entrepreneurial ambition in the UK military community and are the official delivery partner to the governments Start Up loans scheme and the Careers Transition Partnership (MOD). XFE have supported over 1,300 entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and has helped thousands more through training, events and mentoring provisions.
If you would like to use Tony’s business in your publication, please contact Tenneka Richards, Marketing & Communications officer, X-Forces Enterprise on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)207 811 3237