6th August 2014
PROGRESS IS ONLY MADE AFTER THE HARD YARDS ARE GAINED
When you hit your 40s and you've always wanted to do your own thing, you know it's now or never. You've got to take the plunge sometime and in my head I felt that, if I didn't do it then, I'd never get around to doing it again. I would have hated to have been that person in his 50s and 60s thinking 'what if', 'what could have been' and 'might have been'.
Working for myself was always an itch that needed to be scratched, and in fairness, I suppose it was always there when I look back at my career. For despite having a good career in pensions and investments, I was still dipping my toe into entrepreneurial waters and even running a launderette for a while as a side business!
I eventually took the plunge in 2002/03 but the markets were down after the dotcom bubble burst and it was a tough time. I started out with a partner in the business but after a few years that partnership broke up – however, going back to the nine-to-five never entered my mind. In the States after all, they don't respect you in business unless you've had the three stripes of failure but I saw an opening for an online brokerage model that I believed could be successful this time the second time around.
In truth, it was getting tougher and tougher to make it as a smaller guy in the brokerage business and I needed to pivot and develop in another direction. Online was where it would happen and digital disruption of the life insurance and mortgage protection markets would be my doorway to success. I had worked in the financial industry all my life and I could see the numbers online: it was obvious that life insurance had to catch up and embrace the digital revolution also.
Since starting Low.ie in 2012, targeting the online life insurance market, there have been times when it's been hand-to-mouth stuff. But I knew we were on the right track and that there was a market for competitively priced life insurance and cover. 2013 was still a tough time and the country was still very much in recession mode – something that, fingers crossed, is slowly dissipating this year with more optimism very much around. There were times when I couldn't take a salary and with a mortgage to pay and family to look after you do feel the personal pressure of it all. Christmas was especially tough and you have dark moments thinking to yourself, 'am I mad?' and even the wife, I'm sure, would enjoy at times the stability of a nine-to-five as well.
Then we turned a corner. We got a significant investor on board and we are making progress. It re-affirms my faith and belief that we're on the right track and I'm glad I did it. That entrepreneurial streak has got me this far and will hopefully take the company even further. The hard yards put in by entrepreneurs aren't always appreciated in this country but looking back on the tough times, knowing you've come through to the other side, makes it easier to face the next battles ahead.