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Business owner to MBA student

I started my MBA journey in December 2020, as part of the class of 2022. Before the MBA I was an entrepreneur and owned my own ecommerce company called Goblin Gaming. I started the business from scratch and it is now a market leader in tabletop gaming. 

Where I started 

My entrepreneurship timeline began in 2006 whilst I was at college. I was fixing and repairing PCs as a business. When the time came that everyone went off to university I decided to take a gap year to pursue my business ideas, giving myself a year to turn this into something proper.  From starting this IT business as a young teen in my grandparents’ shed, the company soon expanded and I opened my first office in a business incubation centre.

In 2015 I started selling tabletop models and boardgames, this was just by chance as we happened to have some Warhammer figures in the PC repair shop. They were not selling very well in store, so I decided to put them online, despite everyone’s feelings against my pursuit of this. Fortunately after 24 hours of the stock being online, it sold. The development of this website took off and it grew over the next couple of years.

In the first year of selling Warhammer online the company went from £1000-£2000 a month in sales to £25,000 a month. It was at this point that the company started to be taken seriously by investors. I ended up selling quarter of the company and from here we moved the business to a 10,000 foot facility. But we had got to our first million in revenue just from the flat above my first shop and I believe this is because we put the customer first and piloted platforms such as trust pilot.

Today the company is in its own purpose-built warehouse and is more like an Ikea, very efficiently run and turning over millions of pounds a year. We have a retail store and a gaming centre, and we are market leaders in customer service and one of the biggest retailers in the market. 

I now take more of a backseat role from the day-to-day operations at the company, I am still CEO and run the company in terms of leading and steering the company’s direction. We have a team of great people who take care of the day to day. I have experienced entrepreneurship a couple of times so far and now I really want a change.

Starting my new chapter 

Deciding what to do now was quite easy: I knew I wanted to work within a big organisation, something around consultancy. But my only problem was that even though I owned a successful business, I didn’t have any legitimate business qualifications to support this, making me feel unemployable. I started looking at MBA programmes and after attending a few recruitment events, I decided to apply. When I got accepted on to the programme it was such a big deal to me, I have to say my proudest moment.

I am not sure what I plan on doing post-MBA, I quite like the idea of following a corporate path, having a job with a boss. To work somewhere I am needed and can make a difference, I want to fix problems for businesses by drawing on my own experiences and knowledge. I need a job now where every day is different with new problems and challenges. It will be good for me to have structure and someone else to answer to rather than just myself.

I believe that doing the MBA will give me credibility on my CV. I also like the idea of being part of a team where I am not the leader and my idea is chosen because it is a good one, not just because I own the company.

My entrepreneurial advice 

If I could give advice to someone looking to start a business it would be to say it is not as glamorous or easy as it looks, the work life balance is hard. In the early years you are going to have to give up a lot of the freedom you once knew. I always say make sure the juice is worth the squeeze and set yourself targets, if you haven’t met these targets by a certain point then it’s not worth it. I would also always recommend having a co-founder; they will then share the burden, you’re in it with someone else and there is always that person to bounce ideas off.

When people ask me what makes you successful in business, I always say it is down to luck, I just so happened to be at the right place at the right time for Warhammer products. I put in the time and effort in the early years which has made it the success it is today.

The MBA so far 

So far I have completed one of the MBA projects, not-for-profit. I have found the project to be very different to any of the work so far in my career. I was not the team leader which was a great learning experience for me. Being a company founder, I am usually in the driving seat, so this was very useful preparation for a future career of working for other companies. It was a project in a totally new industry for me, so I got to work outside of my comfort zone, with colleagues from various backgrounds. I found that to be one of the most valuable parts of the MBA so far for me personally.

As well as the academic side of the programme, I have also been nominated President of the class. I was humbled to win the vote, it is amazing to have the confidence of a cohort of world class business students. I am working alongside an amazing group of talented VP’s who are going to do incredible things for the class and it will be a privilege to work with them on these projects.

I am looking forward to the next stage of the MBA, specifically the chance to do an international study tour to China and get to see how business is conducted in different cultures.

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