In the latest in my inspirational parents series, the dads are coming up on the rails.
Stuart Allen is a gentleman who I’ve never met but I can’t help but feel his influence on Twitter, where his account @ has over 68,000 followers.
Stuart runs The Sales Performance Company and he was also the founder of the amazing #WorcestershireHour. This hashtag and weekly chat has been an incredible help to Worcestershire businesses. It has enabled them to support each other, shop locally and boost the local economy.
Stuart has been kind enough to take time out of his incredibly busy schedule to answer my interview questions. I think you’ll agree he’s an excellent role model for any entrepreneur.
1. Tell me about the most unexpected change to you as a person or to your life since becoming a parent?
It’s been a while – my youngest son is 18. It certainly motivated me to want to be self-employed so I could spend more time with them when they were little. It’s a fallacy that self-employed people work stupid hours. In the modern world it is often the fully employed people doing the stupid hours!
2. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced since having children?
Discovering my son had severe autism and realising he will need life long care. Apart from his autism though he is happy and healthy and appears to enjoy his life.
3. What do you regard as your greatest achievement?
I have started a number of businesses from scratch and with very little cash but having the idea to start #WorcestershireHour on Twitter and seeing it grow into a self-contained social enterprise business has made me the most proud. People that get involved with #WorcestershireHour tell me how much it has helped them and their businesses which is fantastic.
4. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. What hasn’t killed you?
Do you want a list? Redundancy, divorce, multiple business failures, discovering my son had severe autism, too many DIY injuries to list (my nickname was Dangerous Daddy when the kids were young). I have been very lucky from a general health perspective though!
5. Who inspires you?
I can’t think of any one person more than any another. I’m inspired by everyone that makes or has made a positive contribution to help other people, regardless of the time in history that they lived or their religion, race or sex.
6. I have just invented a time machine (and you thought you’d achieved something great). You can now go backwards or forwards to any point in time and deliver any message to any person, what’s your message and who is it for?
I would travel back in time and the message will be for me. Don’t buy things you can’t really afford until you can buy them for cash! By the time you have earned the cash you will have realised you didn’t really want them anyway!
7. You have the opportunity to influence the entrepreneurs of the future. What life changing invention would you like to see on the drawing board?
The self-cleaning car!
8. I have waved a magic wand and all of your responsibilities have been taken care of for 24 hours. What are you going to do?
Sadly, I sold my classic river cruiser last year so a sail down the Severn & Avon is no longer possible. I regret the decision so I’d probably go boat shopping or failing that, maybe classic car shopping!
9. How can parents best be empowered to properly balance a career and a family life?
I’m on a sticky wicket here as I can only do what I do in my current business (which involves a lot of UK travel and nights away from home) because my wife Lisa looks after my autistic son full time. I have an office at home though so when I’m not away I’m ‘on-site’!
I set up a .com business from scratch based in the corner of my lounge in 2002. That business provided me with a good income for over 6 years with no travel or commute to work. You just have to look at what other people are doing in business and see how you can do the same (but different or better).
10. You’re off for a night out tonight. Where will you go, what will you drink and what will be the topic of conversation?
Somewhere not too busy or loud that does exceptional food. The drink will be Champagne and the conversation will be about the amazing food and probably my next business idea.