An Appointment With… Colin Hanslip of Sirius

20th Oct

Colin, can you tell us a little about your background?
How long have you got? I was born in Grimsby, educated at what was then Wintringham Grammar School and, after attending a careers course run by Barclays Bank (mentioned by my economics teacher), I joined Barclays on an accelerated training programme at its branch in Victoria Street, Grimsby.
I started as a ‘junior’ which included answering the customers’ inquiry desk from day one, so my training was certainly accelerated! One of my favourite memories of the early days was when Grimsby had a large fishing fleet and I was supervising the ‘fish settlement’ every Tuesday at the docks sub-branch, where the fish merchants had to settle their accounts with the trawler owners. I then worked at various branches over the Humber, East and North Yorkshire areas in both industrial and farming areas. My final role was as head of small business for the Humber area, managing a team of 20 managers and support staff.
So, what are you doing now and why?
Well, about halfway through my banking career, Barclays seconded me to an enterprise agency in Scunthorpe for 18 months to help redundant steelworkers who wanted to start their own business – a job I really enjoyed. During a much later restructure of the Barclays business, I applied for early retirement from the bank to pursue the business support field full-time. The rest, as they say, is history!
I became the CEO of the Hull Enterprise Agency HABAC, transferred to Business Link Yorkshire, when this was formed in 2008, and then retired when all the Business Links were closed by the then-coalition government. I still ‘keep my eye in’ though by working part-time for Sirius in Hedon, another enterprise agency that was started by BP to help its workers during a redundancy programme.
I still get a buzz out of seeing people start, nurture and grow their businesses with our help. My main role is to assist with business plans, help with the financial forecasts – the dreaded cashflow forecasts – and advise on funding sources, business problems and procedures, etc. In fact, basically, anything the client wants to know!
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I think I should certainly have gone to university before joining Barclays, but I really also think that I should have worked for myself after my initial grounding in business, and spent more time with family and less time continually moving house! No idea what though – possibly photography, especially F1 motor racing and nature.
What defines the way you do business?
I believe in the personal approach and that there is no substitute for one-to-one meetings or discussions – even using Zoom or Messenger like during the pandemic if need be – rather than simply relying on pure statistical information. Certainly, since I have worked mainly with start-up businesses, being an adviser but also a mentor to try to make the new businessperson self-sufficient for the future.
Whom do you most admire?
In the business world, anyone who becomes successful through their own efforts, large or small. Being self-employed is not the easy option. It’s hard work to build a successful business from scratch and if the rewards come later in life, they are usually well-earned. Perhaps, Peter Jones of Dragons’ Den fame or Lord Sugar.
On my personal side, Lewis Hamilton for his dedication to his craft from a very early age and his team spirit now he is so successful. He never forgets to thank all his team, even the background members back at the factory, for all their hard work in getting him to the finishing line and where he is today. He is a great role model for today’s youngsters!
What advice would you give anyone just starting out in business?
Briefly, be passionate about your product or service, its market and what its customers are looking for. Seek advice before making any definitive decisions and do a business plan, if only to see the viability potential and the finance requirements BEFORE you start.
Capital in business is like fuel to an aircraft pilot. You can’t get from London to New York if you only have enough ‘fuel’ to get to Madrid, for instance, and no pilot would endanger his aircraft by trying to fly further than his fuel allows. So, no one should start a business with less funding than their plan needs. They should try to find the rest or amend their plan accordingly.
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