IN July, mortgage and protection advisor Tom Dalley started his own business, TGD Mortgages. In a question-and-answer session, he told us about the pros and cons of running your own business.
1. How did you become a mortgage advisor?
I was born in London but from the age of three grew up in the beautiful local villages of Frampton on Severn and Eastington. I moved to Stonehouse when I bought my first home with my wife 15 years ago and now our children, ages five and seven.
I got into financial services when I was 18 – I’m now 35 – working for the now defunct Stroud and Swindon Building Society. The switch to mortgages was a natural transition there. When Stroud and Swindon closed, I started working as a mortgage advisor for Halifax / Lloyds in the Gloucestershire region.
2. What made you decide to take the plunge and start your own business? Were you nervous about going solo?
Starting my own mortgage brokerage has always been something people told me to do, but it was always such a scary idea. I was then very unexpectedly when I learned that I was made redundant. While a lot of people were obviously quite clueless, I quickly got very excited and knew that was exactly what my next step was going to be.
3. How are the pressures of running your own sole proprietorship different from those of being employed by a business?
A huge advantage for me is that I already have experience in running my own business. For the past six years, I have successfully run a retail supplement business in addition to my daily job. I have a huge passion for combat sports, fitness, and nutrition so it’s been a really fun thing to do. For many people making the transition to self-employment, the aspect of corporate accounts, limited liability companies and the like is quite intimidating, so having experience here was a godsend.
The biggest pressure I have had to get used to is that since I was 18 I have been receiving a fixed amount of money, whether it is windy, rainy or sunny on the 20th of every month, every month. We are now a family of two independent adults, but already I wouldn’t change for the world. I was able to take my son to his first day of school this week and didn’t have to ask or check with anyone.
4. How is TGD Mortgages doing so far?
I was overwhelmed by the number of people who came in contact with me and have helped tremendously since July. I think mortgages and protection are pretty personal things where people buy from people.
The power of social media is an amazing thing and I am constantly being shared and tagged which has really helped me. My clients seem to appreciate the fact that I’m a very down to earth person who you can have a real conversation with, rather than feeling like you’re at a job interview.
5. Do you have a long term goal for the business, such as expanding to hire more advisors besides yourself?
The time will come for me to consider hiring additional people, I think. I anticipate the administrative side of things first, rather than other advisers. As far as my own development is concerned, I’m still looking to broaden my qualifications and the next step will probably be pensions, but it will probably be around five years from now after I build a strong brand with my current model.
6. How do you keep work-life balance when running your own business?
It can be quite difficult sometimes to disconnect when you’ve been working 12-14 hours straight, but it’s so different being an employee because it’s everything for me, my customers and my brand. On top of that, I work on a specific laptop that is locked every night. It stops the temptation to keep diving.
While not having set hours means you can do really long days, it also means I can do my own things a lot easier. Family is very important to me, so when my kids tell me “I love you more than you’re home plus daddy,” that new life is worth its weight in gold.
For more information, see tgdmortgages.co.uk