Vocalist Bruce Dickinson of British heavy metal legends IRON MAIDEN recently spoke to Your Business Channel about the challenges of start-up growth. You can now watch the chat in three parts below.
Dickinson, a commercial airline pilot and established aviation entrepreneur, set up Cardiff Aviation Limited to provide specialist aviation technical support services, including training, as well as heavy aircraft maintenance for various jet aircraft types, both narrow and wide body, up to Boeing 767 size. Dickinson and his company are leasing 132,000 square feet of hangar and office space at St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan in Wales, United Kingdom from the Welsh government.
On what tips he hold on to in order to be successful:
Dickinson: "In order to trigger the amount of funding that we will be getting from Finance Wales, we have to commit to, I think, it's half a million that we have to demonstrate. We don't have to spend half a million straight away. But I think we're going to end up probably spending around £400,000 before Christmas because we're now in the expensive start-up phase where we're really hiring people. We're buying tools. We have to… This is the moment when you've got to stand up and be counted and actually do it. Although, having said that, if 400,000 is going to be your total outlay, it'd probably be a bit less than that actually. Don't forget that we already have a substantial source of income already coming in. So, in actual fact, although we'll be spending that money, we'll be getting a little of it back straight away. We've a joint venture on an engineering shop downstairs which has some highly advanced machinery which is there in situ. It's a small medium enterprise company from Birmingham with about eight/nine million turnover at the moment manufacturing in China. Then, moving that manufacturing back to Europe, because they want to, because it makes sense for them, but by doing a JV with us, with our facility, what it means is that they can bid for the two thirds of the market that they don't bid for at the moment, which is the high-end-precision, high-profit-margin bit of the market. At the same time, we have a paint shop which is good for components, motor cars, spraying diverse bits of aeroplanes, not big enough for a whole aeroplane just yet, although we can spray small business jets. But we're in discussions about constructing a paint hangar with the Welsh government which will be big enough for Airbus, say, 330-size aircraft. If we can do that on the same site, we have a terrific niche and our relationship will be with those customers. It's not just going to be like phoning up the garage and going, 'Hello mate, who are you then?' We want to have a really long-term personal relationship here and do a great job for people and I think we can."
On what starting a business and writing a song have in common:
Dickinson: "I've got several business interests in various things that are nothing to do with music. I've started aviation engineering companies and was an airline pilot and had my fingers in various other pies and ran a retail business for a while. All these things have happened along the way — you know, [I've] made movies and written novels. So I've had a bit of experience at lots and lots of different arenas as it were, some of them completely creative, some of them quite technical. The interesting thing is, is that I found that the technical arenas actually are also very creative or can be very creative. You can use creativity to approach those in much the same way as you write a song."
On the philosophy he tries to impart on his staff:
Dickinson: "Business is just about enabling human beings, nothing more, nothing less. Businesses need to recognize this fundamental fact. Too often businesses are blinkered into getting the job done. If the job is no longer enabling any one to do anything, then what is the point? When you cut human beings down to size, we're really quite simple creatures; food, shelter, warmth, light, heat and you build it up from there really until you finally go Gucci shoes or whatever it is or whatever your consumer desires are. All those desire are ultimately, they're about gratification. Now, where we're at with the airline thing, you know lives up on the fact that people want to travel. We exist because people want to travel on airliners, because they want to get from A to B quickly because they don't want to spend time they perceive as wasting time just getting there because they want to get there, live their lives to the full, because they want to enjoy it. Our job is to facilitate that happening by providing the engineering services and also possibly transportation services that enable that to happen. But always bear in mind that you're just enabling human beings, that's your ultimate customer."