Picture this. It’s a wet Saturday afternoon somewhere in Ireland. A lonely figure with a pushchair marches stoically, head down against the light rain, occasionally leaning over to check on his infant son. A few years back, this was a regular Saturday event for Noel Reeves, rain or shine. It was his only escape from an otherwise frustrating and mundane life as an employee of a print company. But Noel wasn’t just walking for exercise: he was planning. Over two months of Saturday walks, Noel created a detailed business plan for a new exhibitions and promotions company. By 2010, the new company had started to trade from a bedroom. By 2012 he and his family had re-located back to the UK, choosing Lincolnshire, and with a second child on the way. By the following year, he had taken on his first employee. Today, Rocket Print & Promotions (now rebranded as Rocket Exhibitions) employs 20 people, and has a turnover in excess of £1.2M. Not bad for a business that began with walks in the rain, and a bedroom.
Noel’s background has always been in exhibitions and promotions, variously working for other firms, and as a freelance consultant. Asked what he most enjoys about the work, Noel doesn’t hesitate: “I love the whole winning thing – I enjoy the hands-on practical stuff too, but winning business is what motivates me.” And to continue to win business and new clients, you have to be at the top of your game.
Noel’s typical working week would daunt most people: 7 days a week full on, frequently having to be on site in London for 0800 for a long day, and then driving back to Lincolnshire in the dark. The workload is unrelenting, every day a challenge. Recently moving into much larger premises, business growth is very much at the centre of Noel’s plans, aiming to add 200 new customers year on year. “I still go walking every day,” he says, “only now it’s with my dog. And I run a lot – done a few marathons.” For Noel, this is precious thinking time. “I always return with ideas,” he tells 10×10. “My marathon running is pretty connected to tangible cycles of business growth”.
Asked his opinion about the 10×10 business accelerator programme, Noel shows no hesitation: “Fantastic – absolutely well worth it – for any business at any stage.” He is already applying some of the key business concepts and ideas discussed in the workshops, including an overhaul of his ideas about business growth. “I’m big on culture”, he concludes, “so 10×10 has been invaluable in helping me to shape and develop my ideas.”