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You can listen to Brendan’s story by clicking below

“What am I proud of? That I did it. I’m really proud that I’ve got a business that’s been going 14 years, there’s 6 people work in it…”

Brendan Walsh, Bowland Solutions Ltd

Bowland College, BSc Hons Mathematics 1990

Following a successful career with HSBC, Brendan co-founded Bowland Solutions in 2001. Over the last 13 years he has been a sought after provider of feedback to partners, board members, and other senior executives who value his pragmatic approach in supporting and challenging them.

Tell us about your change from employee to business owner…

How I ended up having my own business was actually just becoming unhappy. I didn’t enjoy corporate life, I was successful at it, had a very nice car and a very big salary and all that kind of stuff; that was all going fine, but I found it very stressful, I’ve got a young family and my daughter had been born at that point and I couldn’t see her, and I didn’t feel I had any real control over my life.

It’s a brave move, what was the trigger to make the transition?

I went on holiday and I read a book, called Principle Centred Leadership, by Steven Covey. He didn’t say anything other than confirm to me that the things I was hating at work were relevant to my unhappiness. It took me a long while to accept that it was me that needed to make the changes and not HSBC. I came back from holiday and two weeks later I left; I just disappeared.

How did you get going with a business?

The actual business came out of, if there was a lesson, just spotting opportunities. I didn’t have a plan; I didn’t have an idea.I had some later, but actually at that point I just said, ‘Yes!’ That’s quite a thing to have as an entrepreneur; the ability to have the confidence to say yes, and then see where it leads you.

I picked the phone up and I started phoning people and the only thing I knew at this time was customer service, I’d run big call centres, five, six hundred people call centres, so I just started phoning them and saying ‘do you need a call centre consultant?’ and the first one I phoned was Wedgewood. They needed some survey software. I used to be a programmer and I thought, ‘I could do that’, I know how to write software. A friend from Lancaster and I wrote the software, sold it to them and that was that.

How did the business develop from there?

Another contact from Lancaster was working for Virgin. They needed some 360 degree feedback software. It just sounded like an iteration of the the Wedgwood survey. So we did that for Virgin for quite a lot of money and they were happy.

That was fourteen years ago and thats the business I’m in. I provide 360 degree feedback software, performance appraisal software, training and consulting.

What tips would you share with others from your own career experiences?

Make decisions early, don’t drift, just make a decision, trust people, if you don’t trust people find someone that you do trust, ‘cos it can be really important when you’re working together. And finally, go and do it, just go and do it, set up a business, it’s a fantastic experience.

You can view Brendan’s LinkedIn profile here.


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