It’s official: we are now the UK’s worst-kept secret

Q1 2022

I’m trying to remember a time when I started one of these quarterly update blogs without referencing the challenging economic climate. Between Brexit, Covid, the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis, it feels like the UK has spent the last five years battling one headwind after another. Throughout all this uncertainty, BigChange has tried to be a dependable partner, consistently and diligently saving customers money and helping them to grow. At first, the impact of our technology remained under the radar but now, in 2022, it feels like the word is out. We have had a bumper quarter in terms of new contracts, partnerships with established companies, and impact. Here are some of the highlights…

A trusted partner

Over the last three months, BigChange has experienced extraordinary growth. New contract wins in the first quarter of 2022 are up by a third on the previous year, worth £7.2m. We have welcomed 100 new customers, bringing thousands of new users onto the platform. Our customer base is more diverse than ever, as we welcome many big, established companies into the fold. Special mentions go to facilities management firm First In Service, which has been going since 1966, and supports major organisations across the NHS, government and the private sector, to RGE Services, which has been providing best-in-class property services for the last 30 years, and to Cork Crane Hire, which has been going 40 years.

Expanding the team

As our order book grows, as does the BigChange team. I’m delighted that we have been able to welcome 25 new starters into the fold over the past quarter – and we’re still looking for 14 more (take a look at our vacancies here: BigChange – Current Openings. Our software development team is now 100-people strong, and we are well on the way to establishing a new Customer Success team.  

Culture is everything

As we grow – and we are now a team of 250 colleagues – it’s important that we work hard to maintain our inclusive and entrepreneurial company culture. This is why I’m proud to announce that BigChange has retained its 2* Best Companies to Work For status, which proves that our growth has been achieved without sacrificing the wonderful work environment we have tried so hard to build here. Our management and our brilliant HR People team remain focused on supporting the careers of all our people, and it’s been a privilege to watch so many colleagues rise through the ranks in recent months. I’m talking about people like Georgia Murphy, who has moved from a front of house role to Customer Marketing and Events Manager, and Francis Chuma, who started as a tester at BigChange and now has a pivotal role within the Professional Services team. Regular readers of the blog will also remember Lisa’s story: Lisa Boonin started in RoadCrew Customer Service and was supported through a CIPD qualification to take on a new career in HR at BigChange.

World domination

We may now be an established player in the UK but we are also gaining traction internationally. BigChange now operates in France, Cyprus, Australia, New Zealand the US, and Canada. The French arm of the business has grown significantly over the past three months, expanding its base to reach over 60 customers. Across the globe, 60,000 people from around 2,000 companies now use BigChange.

Ready for a bumper Q2

Despite the many challenges that the world faces right now, I’m confident that BigChange will continue this impressive growth trajectory in the second quarter of 2022. After what feels like a lifetime of lockdowns, we’re back out there, attending events and exhibitions, and meeting potential customers all over the world. To put this into context, we attended just two exhibitions in the first quarter, and six are already tabled for Q2.

We continue to receive awards nominations and accolades, which also helps to raise awareness. In the last three months, BigChange has been shortlisted for Most Sustainable Installer (alongside Celsius Plumbing & Heating) at the Heating Installer Awards, and for the Best Use of Technology Award (alongside Nserv) at the Construction News Awards.

Proud to support entrepreneurs

It’s a tough trading environment out there but that just makes our technology even more attractive. Businesses must create more value than ever in order to survive and we are here to help them do just that, to increase profit margins while banishing waste and inefficiency. It’s no coincidence that 30% of our new business comes from existing customers buying new licenses. BigChange customers are not laggers: I would wager their growth far outpaces the rest of the UK economy. During two recent Shop Floor days with BigChange customers, I saw this ambition, drive and tenacity first-hand. At Sherwoods, revenues have doubled during the company’s time as a BigChange customer. At Crucial Engineering, which has been with BigChange almost since its formation, revenues recently hit over £3m. Watching businesses like these thrive is an absolute highlight of life as BigChange chairman, and I look forward to sharing many more success stories with you soon.

Martin Port leads funding round into Rated People

Rated people

Martin Port, the serial entrepreneur behind Masternaut and BigChange, leads investment into online tradesperson marketplace Rated People.

Martin Port is the lead investor in a funding round for online tradesperson platform Rated People.

His seven-figure investment will be used to accelerate growth at the company as it continues to bolster its user base. This is the first angel investment from Martin Port, who joins existing investors Frog Capital, Downing Ventures and Channel 4.

Rated People is the UK’s leading online marketplace matching homeowners with skilled, local tradespeople. The platform is used by nearly 1 million UK homeowners each year, looking for the right trades businesses who can help them complete domestic and commercial jobs.

More than 50,000 tradespeople are featured on the site, from builders to roofers, plumbers to electricians, and more.

‘A fantastic business’

Rated People, which recorded revenues of £11.5m in 2020, is led by Adrienne Minster, who was appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2020 after 4 years in the business as Chief Commercial Officer and then COO.

“Rated People has come through the last two years in a strong position,” she says. “This deal will enable us to accelerate our growth in 2022, and I know that Martin’s experience will help us to add even more value to both trades businesses and homeowners across the UK.”

“Rated People is a fantastic business providing an exceptional service to both tradespeople and homeowners alike” says Martin. “I have been a customer of the platform and was impressed by the concept and execution. I’m a big fan! I look forward to supporting Adrienne as she takes Rated People to the next level.”

Following the deal, Martin is joining Rated People as a Board Observer and Strategic Advisor. He remains chairman of BigChange, the technology company he founded in 2013.

“Through BigChange, which provides technology to help tradespeople grow their businesses, reduce carbon footprint, and drive efficiency, I have come to know the needs of this industry very well” he says.
“I hope to bring all my experience to bear in Rated People.”

Rated People is Martin’s first foray as an angel investor.

“I have loved being an entrepreneur and growing businesses from nothing into international success stories,” he says. “Right now, I’m also enjoying the ability to invest back into the entrepreneurial ecosystem to help the next generation to thrive. It is a privilege to support Rated People in this next phase of its growth.”

About Rated People

Founded in 2005, Rated People is the UK’s leading online marketplace matching homeowners with skilled, local tradespeople.

Over 50,000 tradespeople use the site and 1,000,000 jobs are posted every year by homeowners wanting to make the most of where they live.

Once the work is complete, homeowners leave a review of the tradesperson – and this feedback helps give other homeowners peace of mind that they’ve found someone reliable.

In 2021, Rated People also secured a position on three of the Sunday Times’ Best Companies lists for the first time.

The company featured on the UK’s 100 Best Mid-Sized Companies to Work For, London’s 50 Best Mid-Sized Companies to Work For and the Business Services’ 20 Best Companies to Work For – a sector-specific category, new for 2021.

About Martin Port

Martin Port is a technology pioneer based in Leeds, Yorkshire.

He is a serial entrepreneur, who has built three successful businesses during his career. Martin founded his current venture, software-as-a-service company BigChange, in 2013. BigChange’s field service management technology is the core workflow tool for businesses employing field service technicians and operators across the UK, Europe, the US and Australia.

BigChange’s tools provide job scheduling, customer invoicing and payments automation, mobile workforce management, and client engagement to 1,900 small to enterprise clients spanning more than 60 industries.

In 2020, BigChange was recognised for its outstanding innovation in the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, the UK’s highest official awards for British businesses.

In 2021, Boston-based Great Hill Partners invested £75m of growth capital in BigChange, valuing the company at £100m.

The deal that opened a new chapter

Great Hill Partnership Deal

On the 4th of February 2021, I embarked on one of the greatest adventures of my professional life so far.

I signed a deal with an American private equity backer, raising £75m to supercharge the growth of my business, valuing BigChange at £100m.

I won’t lie to you. I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect. I consider myself a good judge of character and I knew that I respected and liked the team from Great Hill Partners. But you never really know, do you?

Here I am, a year on, looking back over a 12-month partnership and, I have to say… It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I don’t want to get sentimental – I’m not one for love letters – but I wanted to talk about the experience. Often, as entrepreneurs, you hear the horror stories and see the battle scars, but you rarely find out about happy-ever-afters.

I’m here to say that our backer, Great Hill Partners, has done absolutely everything they said they would do. They have operated with integrity. They have supported me as a founder during one of the toughest and most uncertain times in living memory. They have helped this business to scale with a speed and efficiency that I couldn’t not have dreamed of on my own. They have opened doors that would have been bolted shut.

I would like to take some credit for the success of this partnership. As entrepreneurs, you are always told: do your homework. Get to know your potential investors. Speak to other founders in their portfolio. Ask about the awards they have won. I did all of that and more. So, credit to me, I picked the right partner. But no one expected a global pandemic to throw a spanner in the works. The best investor in the world would be forgiven for being rattled by that. But not Great Hill. Instead, they increased their level of support while also helping us access a further £25m to grow the business. We could never have done a deal like that on our own. Instead of putting on the brakes, they let me do what my instincts told me to do: accelerate.

I want to do a quick shout out to the individuals who have helped make this relationship such a success. I want to thank Drew LoucksChris BusbyGreg StewartRyan O’MalleyPablo Ramirez – the dream team that has supported me and BigChange this year. I want to say an enormous thank you to Richard Warley, our CEO, who was introduced to me by Great Hill, and has been a tremendous asset to the business. And last but not least, I want to thank the fantastic people at KPMG, who advised on the deal. We have spent over six years with KPMG, getting to know one another, and now I can genuinely say that I have made great friends in the process.

Many business owners are slightly afraid of private equity. Some with good reason: there are firms out there that give this kind of investment a bad name. But in my experience, any company that is serious about growth, and wants autonomy and firepower simultaneously, should consider it. If we had gone public, I wouldn’t be writing this update, I’d be bogged down in bureaucracy and gagged by shareholder agreements. It’s not for me. At least, not now. Maybe when we achieve our dream of becoming a unicorn, I’ll see things differently.

The bottom line for me is this: if we had never embarked on this journey with Great Hill, we’d be in a very different place. We’d still be successful and growing, but we wouldn’t have been able to invest in people and product like we have this year, creating the foundations for an even more brilliant future for the business. And our growth would be a crawl as opposed to a sprint. So, here’s to a most excellent year, and to the years of growth and success ahead. I’m very glad I signed on that dotted line last February.

Chairman’s blog: Every entrepreneur needs a first-rate lieutenant

Andrew Scully

I first met Andrew Scully when he was six years old. His brother James was good friends with my eldest son, Ben, and our two families went for a walk at Ripley Castle. Even as a kid, he was super bright, attending Leeds Grammar School.

Years later, I remember popping in to Pasta Romagna, an Italian restaurant in Leeds, to get my coffee in the morning and seeing him behind the counter doing three things at once. He started working there aged 14 or so and, unlike many teenagers, already had a strong work ethic and a desire to earn. Pasta Romagna was run by a real character, an Italian lady who would suddenly break into song, “Andrew! More cappuccino! More pizza!”

While he was in sixth form, he applied for a summer job at my last company: Masternaut. Over time, he gradually worked across every single department, learning the business from the ground up. I saw a spark in him, and a brilliant mind, and employed him as my personal assistant. Soon, he was helping out on deals and due diligence. He dropped out of his business degree at university because he realised he was learning more working at Masternaut than he ever could in a classroom.

When I started BigChange, I knew I needed a right-hand man to help me grow the business. I asked Andrew to join me. Over the past nine years, he’s grown with the business as a director and shareholder.

Andrew and I have worked together for 17 wonderful years. We make a brilliant team. He’s calm, reasoned, commercially astute, and is excellent with detail. I’ve posted before about my hearing issues, which can make meetings more challenging for me. Andrew always captures every word. Having him as my lieutenant has also given me the ability to step away from some of the day-to-day operations that can swallow an entrepreneur’s time, allowing me to think creatively and focus on high-level strategy. This has ultimately been hugely beneficial to the business. There’s no way that BigChange would be where it is today without Andrew.

I am telling you all of this because it is with a heavy heart that I announce Andrew is leaving BigChange to forge his own path. He’s still very young – in his mid-thirties – and after working with me for almost two decades, he’s ready to strike out on his own. It has been an absolute privilege to be his teacher but now I can say hand on heart that the student has become the master. He has negotiated some of BigChange’s biggest contracts. He has been instrumental in creating the processes that have allowed this company to grow at an extraordinary rate. Since I moved to become chairman, he has been more and more involved in strategy and planning – and he’s gifted at that too. He unfailingly wins the respect of everyone he meets, even those twice his age. I know that whatever Andrew chooses to do next, he’ll be successful. He remains a shareholder and friend, both to BigChange and to me.

I believe that every entrepreneur needs a trusted lieutenant who can help them on their growth journey. Especially solo founders like me. You need someone with complementary skills by your side. Look for people that are great thinkers, commercially aware and numbers orientated, honest and forthright – you need someone who has the guts to say when they disagree with you.

Andrew isn’t my first lieutenant. I’ve been lucky, over the years, to spot individuals who can grow and develop with my businesses. When I started Masternaut, my second hire was a young man called Simon Bellamy. He joined in 2002 and became a shareholder, co-director, and trusted ally. He made sure that I had enough cash in that business to do all the deals I needed to do. He was honest, fair-minded and a brilliant businessman. When I left Masternaut, he stayed on and continued to grow that business. It was a huge coup for me, and BigChange, when Simon agreed to join this business a few years ago.

So, this post goes out to all the entrepreneurs and their first lieutenants out there: the dream teams. I wish you good fortune and success. Remember, together you can achieve more than you ever thought possible. We’ll miss you Andrew!

How many awards have you entered this year? If the answer is, ‘None’, this post is for you.


This week, BigChange has had the pleasure of attending four awards ceremonies. We didn’t win prizes at all of them, but it was enough to be nominated.

The buzz of being in the room, meeting other business owners, seeing your company’s achievements shouted from the stage, and – sometimes – picking up trophies and getting the opportunity to tell everyone in the room how proud you are of your team, it’s like nothing else. 

This is why I want to encourage all my fellow business owners to make the time to enter their business into as many awards programmes as they can. I know you’re busy. I know there’s always something more pressing to do. But if you really can’t spare an evening to fill out an application, pay someone else to do it. Or ask your marketing team to take on the task. 

At BigChange, we have won some wonderful awards over the years. Winning accolades creates a virtuous circle in business: awards help you wow prospective customers, and accelerated growth helps you win more awards. 

Every company will tell a prospective client that they are the best in their industry. But when you reach slide three in your presentation, listing 20 awards you have won, it proves that you truly are best in class: it’s more than just hot air. 

For leaders out there seeking investment, a whole cabinet of trophies can help attract better offers and partners. Some investors actively scour awards brochures for exciting companies. 

This week, I picked up our 2020 Queen’s Award for Enterprise – the pandemic meant that the ceremony was delayed a year. On Tuesday, at the GP Bullhound Northern Tech Awards 2021, BigChange was recognised as one of the Top 15 Fastest Growing Larger Technology Companies in the North of England Scotland and Ireland. These events have given me a platform to talk about BigChange on social media, and created positive engagement with our colleagues, customers and investors.  

I always tell my fellow entrepreneurs to get involved with awards. Even when I know they’ll be up against me – I enjoy healthy competition. But sometimes people will tell me they believe awards to be “vanity”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Is it vain to want recognition for a job well done? Or to seek an external perspective on your achievements? For me, the only vanity is paying to enter awards where the fee guarantees a prize. We never pay to enter competitions, and never would. We want to be judged on the strength of our credentials, not our ability to flash the cash. 

There has never been a better time to enter for business for an award. If you and your company are still standing after this strange and testing time in the world’s history, you deserve recognition for that. So, don’t delay, check out all the national, industry and local awards that fit your size and sector – you never know, even getting nominated could open doors for you and your business. 

Dear entrepreneur, has the virus changed your priorities? If not, why not?

Has the virus changed your priorities?

The world in 2021 looks very different to the landscape in 2019, doesn’t it? Things that used to denote success and financial freedom – fast cars, luxury clothing, holidays homes all over the world – now leave a sour taste in the mouth.

It has become impossible to ignore the many challenges facing the world right now, from the terrifying impact of climate change to the widening gap between rich and poor. 

I believe that this means modern leaders have a new and improved mandate: if you are successful, use it to help others and protect the planet.  

I have always been passionate about philanthropy. Charitable giving has been a cornerstone in all of my businesses, and I have always tried to drive positive change, whether that’s through convincing my colleagues to quit smoking, incentivising drivers to cut their speed, or supporting charities and social enterprises, both at home and abroad.  

Regular readers of this blog will remember that I wrote about the need to support charities last year: . The good news is that the Covid crisis has been a turning point for philanthropy. According to McKinsey, the global consultancy, some of the world’s wealthiest people doubled or quadrupled their pay-out rates last year, while others distributed 20% of their total assets, and others have committed as much as $1bn to COVID-19 relief But there is so much more that must be done.  

The NPC, the think tank for the social sector, counted over 7,440 charity redundancies in 2020  . As talent left the third sector, the people remaining were forced to concentrate on urgent crises, which meant that many vulnerable people could not access support. These charities need our time and money more than ever.   

I feel that it is my moral obligation, as a leader and entrepreneur, to do my bit. This year, I am proud to say that BigChange has supported several charities through donations and also my strategic support. Here are just a few of the causes we have backed this year: Business In The Community, the Yorkshire Children’s Centre, Recycling Lives, Transaid, Living Potential Care Farm, RNID and Speed Of Sight.  

When you’re busy building a business, it’s easy to put off charitable giving – you tell yourself you’ll sort it all out another day. But there’s no time to waste. I remember meeting Arnold Ziff OBE, the great philanthropist MHDSRIP, many years ago. He would see a problem and set about solving it straight away: it made him an unstoppable force in social and environmental change. He never stopped helping people, in any way he could, be it an introduction or a donation. . He became a legend here in Yorkshire.  

Arnold was the person who first convinced me of an important truth: What is the point of being successful if you don’t use that success to make a positive impact in the world?  

How could you help save the world today?

The start-up culture conundrum

The start-up culture conundrum

One thing that keeps every founder awake at night is: how are we going to maintain my company’s culture and momentum as the organisation grows? If you Google “How to maintain start-up culture”, you’ll see more than 16m results. Everyone is trying to solve this challenge but, suffice to say, there are no easy solutions. 

I remember, in early days of BigChange, how many late nights I spent in the office. Those were heady days: ordering pizza with my team as we burnt the midnight oil and sketched out audacious plans for the future. Now, eight years on, we’re a much bigger entity with almost 250 colleagues. We have managed to maintain our dynamism and commitment to growth, but I know the dangers of complacency. 

I recently posted that I was reading Michael Dell’s new book, Play Nice But Win. I just finished it and am so inspired by his drive and absolute determination to make Dell a global success. His work ethic has never wavered – and he started that business when he was just 21. Even during tough times, he just redoubled his efforts and managed to overcome every barrier. 

Over the years, I have seen many businesses flounder when they scaled from a small-to-medium-size to a larger entity. This means that I now know the mistakes to avoid. As you grow, you need to make sure you don’t lose your grip on the hiring process. It may be tempting to fill roles fast as gaps appear but every single individual that joins the team must be a) a team player, b) driven and enthusiastic and c) capable of giving 150% when the business needs it. 

When you start a business, the combined output of the team is astonishing. It is possible to keep finding those incredible and talented people as the business grows – but you have to take your time and really get to know individuals and, most importantly, promote from within. 

The leader must motivate, motivate and motivate some more. As soon as the people at the top lose their focus, the team will too. It’s so important to keep communicating the goals and being transparent about performance. People need to know where the business is going and how they, individually, will contribute to success. I love working with a galvanised team and that feeling of all being on the bus together. 

I’m writing this from America, where we are focused on building a business to rival BigChange in Europe. I feel like a start-up founder again, and it’s been so exciting to see our US operations blossom and flourish. Having ambitious plans for this part of the world has lit a fire in the whole team, and I want to keep stoking those flames. BigChange may be growing fast but I want this company to keep its entrepreneurial vigour, whether we are 200 people or 2,000.

There is plenty of work out there but are you profitable?

There is plenty of work out there but are you profitable?

“Turnover is vanity. Profit is sanity.” Most entrepreneurs will have heard these words at some point in their careers. It’s a cliché but, here’s the thing about clichés, they are usually right.

When you run a mobile workforce, as we do, and all our customers too, there are so many variables in play, which affect your profitability. From the cost of hiring new talent to the availability of parts, fuel prices to job scheduling efficiencies, it’s a delicate balancing act.

This is why BigChange has just conducted a major piece of research into the field service industry. We are obsessed with helping our customers to grow, and grow more efficiently and profitably than before, so it made sense to go out and ask people across the sector (not our customers; the pollsters Opinium found more than 500 business leaders outside of our network) about the things that are hampering their growth, reducing margins, or causing them sleepless nights.

The results are absolutely fascinating.

The report, “State of the Field Service Sector” found that these businesses are in the grip of a post-pandemic boom. Workloads are up 70% on last year, according to the leaders we polled. And prices are rising too, because of this demand, increasing 47% on average since July 2020. Yet, here’s the kicker. Fewer than half of the companies in this industry turn a profit. How can this be?

Many accrued significant debts during the repeated lockdowns of 2020. Some may have been hit by higher costs that they were unable or unwilling to pass on to customers. Others have been forced to increase wages to hold on to staff as the post-Brexit talent shortage continues to bite.

All of this means one thing: that while a significant proportion of field service businesses are growing, they are not growing sustainably. In fact, according to our research, one in eight is likely to go bankrupt within a year.

What can be done to support this vital sector, and prevent losses from spiralling out of control?

Call me biased, but I know that technology is the answer. Automation is absolutely key to modern enterprise. It not only helps to reduce the time is takes to complete jobs, it also helps engineers deliver a better service, and provides actionable insight into what is driving the value of your business.

Our report has found that customer experience is now the ultimate source of competitive advantage. Most leaders said good service now requires same-working-day fixes for reactive jobs (68%) and that customers be kept fully informed digitally (65%) – both must-haves can be achieved through smarter tech.

It is my heartfelt belief that an investment in the technologies that increases profitability is a no-brainer. There is no better way to spend your money. At a time when many business owners have cut spending – and some may even be sitting on significant cash piles – the opportunity to drive efficiency and optimisation like never before is now in reach. Cash in the bank earns zero interest. Investments in stocks and shares are highly volatile. Business leaders should back themselves and back their businesses through futureproofing technologies that really deliver.

I’m not trying to give you a sales pitch. Well, maybe I am. But it’s because I truly believe in the revolutionary power of technology to help Britain’s field service companies to thrive. So, tell me, would you like to be more profitable?

Have a little patience

Have a little patience

People sometimes ask me what it takes to be successful in business. Of course, there is no simple answer to that question, no magic bullet. But I do believe that one of the most vital qualities you need in order to build a thriving business is patience.  

I know this goes against the grain. The stereotypical entrepreneur makes lightning-fast decisions based solely on gut feel, and lurches from deal to deal, pivoting his or her business to meet new customer demands. And there is an element of that. Especially in the very early days of start-up life. But the truth is: to achieve lasting success, you need a more measured and considered approach.  

The old saying goes: “Good things come to those who wait”. If you don’t give great ideas and new strategies time to blossom, you may never realise their true potential. If you act impetuously, you are also likely to lose the respect of colleagues, partners, funders and customers. It takes a long time to build a great reputation, and just seconds to destroy it.  

Patient leaders foster a more tolerant and productive company culture. This makes the business more attractive to new hires and reduces employee attrition. According to a 2020 by the Harvard Business Review, leaders who demonstrate patience can increase the creativity and collaboration of their team by 16% and their productivity by 13%  

As I get older, I have learned the value of patience. It doesn’t always come naturally to me. I must consciously slow myself down and force myself to take a breath.  

For any founders out there who are like me, and want to know how I have strengthened my ability to be patient over the years, here are my five go-to tactics: 

Make sure you have all the facts

Before making an important decision, I assemble all the available information. In my head, or on paper, I’ll review all the data that I have, and try to spot any gaps. That process slows me down because it takes time to thoroughly assess everything and find any missing information, and that naturally creates space for my subconscious mind to process everything and reach a better, more thoughtful decision.  

Have a game plan

I always try to have a plan in place when executing new strategies or pursuing goals. This helps me avoid distraction but also promotes patience because, by having a plan, you are less likely to rush. When I was growing BigChange, I knew I wanted to reach a valuation of £100m within 10 years. In the end, I achieved that far earlier but, perhaps, only because I had set my course so firmly in my mind that I never deviated. 

Let others shine

This is absolutely crucial in business: you have to let the talented people around you work their magic and fulfil their potential. That can take time. When you bring in brilliant people, they can’t always revolutionise a team or introduce a new revenue stream on day one. They must learn the values and culture of the business and figure out how they fit into the team. I have learned that by giving individuals time to get to know BigChange, they make a far bigger – and better – impact.  

Get comfortable with change

Sometimes, one of the reasons we become impatient is because of change, which is making us uncomfortable. This is a natural reaction: human beings seek out routine and can feel unbalanced when major changes are underway. But it’s important to fight the negative impulse to force ourselves back into our comfort zones. We have to give ourselves time to acclimatise to the new environment, accept that transformation is positive and necessary, and try to be patient as new changes take hold.  

Be kind

When you are impatient, you can spend a lot of time criticising yourself and others for not getting things done fast enough. Sometimes, a bit of this can encourage progress but often it does the opposite, reducing morale – yours and the team’s. Patience and kindness go hand in hand because you listen more, talk less, and focus on problem-solving rather than knee jerk reactions and accusations.  

Remember that patience is a skill that must be honed. It doesn’t come naturally to all of us so some will have to work harder at it than others. But the benefits are manifold: better business decisions; a strong reputation in your marketplace; increased tolerance; a happy team and great company culture. Slow down and make patience your priority today.

Meet two brilliant young tree surgeons, James and Lloyd

Tree surgeons

What were you doing when you were 18 or 19 years of age? Chances are, you were going to parties, spending time with friends, maybe studying or taking a junior role in the workplace. When James and Lloyd Barnes were that age, they were working seven days a week, growing their new business Venerable Tree Care. 

I met the brothers recently when they were working on some trees over the road from my house. We had some trees that needed cutting back, so I asked them to quote, and they came and did the work. Now, as you will all know, I love talking to people so I started asking them about their business, and their ambitions for the future. 

They impressed me so much with their drive, work ethic, and the quality of the service they provided (if anyone reading is looking for someone to help manage trees on their property, don’t hesitate to give them a call!). They took just three days holiday last year, working in all weathers. And, at 22 (James) and 21 (Lloyd) years old, they are so inspiring in their love for the environment and their commitment to help preserve ancient and beautiful trees. 

Here’s what happened when I sat down with James to ask him a few questions about their journey so far. 

Me: How did you get into tree surgery?

James: Both our parents are tree surgeons so we’ve been doing this from the time we could walk. It’s in our blood. We set up our company three years ago and it’s been pretty full-on since then. 

What kind of work do you like to do?

We chose the name Venerable because it means old and wise, and that’s how we see trees. We specialise in things like root improvement and tree science, and we love working on big, old trees. There are lots of generalist tree surgeons out there, but we do less of the felling and more of the preservation. 

What challenges do you face in business?

We have really struggled to find software that helps us to quote and send invoices effectively. The systems we have in place are really time-consuming – time we are not being paid for. We have been looking for one professional platform that takes care of it all, syncs with our calendar, and helps us look really professional to our clients. I’m hoping that BigChange can help us with that! 

Where do you get your drive?

Our parents were also self-employed from their twenties, so I think their drive has always pushed us forward, especially my mum, who is the most driven woman I’ve ever met. While all out friends were going off to uni, I was working down in London for minimum wage just to get experience doing this job before setting up the company. Lloyd and I just really love what we do. What’s better than being outside and climbing trees all day? 

What are some of your proudest achievements?

We did a job for Whixley Church a while back where they couldn’t get any machinery – cherry pickers etc – near a really old chestnut that needed work, so we had to do it all using a rope and harness. We have also worked for the National Trust, removing dead trees that threatened to fall on the greenhouse at Nunnington Hall. We’re really proud that we’re attracting these kinds of clients when the business is so young. 

What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?

Definitely to buy machinery brand new. When we started out, to save money we spent our life savings buying everything second-hand. But the vans and equipment kept breaking down and there were no warranties, so it cost us a lot of money. We’ve learned to buy everything new on finance with warranties in place. That’s been our biggest lesson. That, and getting a good bookkeeper so you’re not trying to do everything yourself.  

It is so important to support the younger generation of entrepreneurs – especially go-getters like James and Lloyd. I am planning a shop floor day with the pair over the next couple of weeks to find out how I can help them to grow and succeed. If they’ll have me, I’d like to mentor them and pass on any advice or experience that can be of use. And yes, we are getting them started with the BigChange software this week. I know that our technology can help them grow sustainably, and cost-effectively, and I’m so excited for the bright future ahead of them.