SME and Business

Midlands entrepreneur grows business from bedroom

A policeman turned entrepreneur from the Midlands has switched careers after his side-hustle printing business took off.

Alex Liggett, 39, from Staffordshire, set up The Vinyl Guys after eight years working out of his spare bedroom. A race car enthusiast, he started making stickers for his own cars in 2013 and over the years his one-man operation grew, selling products on eBay and directly to customers. After a successful 18-year career in the Police, Alex decided to leave his job in July 2019 and in September 2020 moved the business to brand-new premises in Stafford.

Eighteen months later, it’s been the right decision and with support from Virgin Money at key growth points, Alex is in a strong position as the UK economy prepares to fully open back up.

He said: “My daughter is 11 and working for myself means more family time. We lost my dad in January 2017 then my father-in-law six weeks later and it made me realise that life is too short. The Vinyl Guys has been the best decision - business has boomed, which has given me so much confidence in what we are building.

“The start of the pandemic was terrifying, but a number of our customers are trades people who were busy, so it was a strong period of growth for us, which included moving into our new unit.”

Alex has taken on a full-time member of staff - Chris Butler, Production Manager at The Vinyl Guys, has over 20 years’ experience in the printing industry. It’s also important to Alex that he is able to share his experience with others - he has been running mentoring workshops, inviting people into his business to learn about the industry.

He added: “The training days have been really popular, and we’ve had people travel from all over the UK and Europe to take part. Nobody else in the industry is doing this, but I think it’s really important to give people the opportunity to learn how run a business – it can only strengthen the sector and make it better.”

As technology moves forward, it’s important the business is keeping up and Alex has built a great relationship with his printing supplier, Roland DG. His latest two printing machine purchases are the reason he reached out to Craig Walker, his Relationship Manager at Virgin Money, to enquire how the bank could support the business.

He said: “I have always saved up to buy anything I needed, but my accountant suggested speaking to my bank. Craig is really interested in the business and understands what I want to achieve, and we’ve had a number of conversations around what financial support is available. It’s been a seamless process so far and allowed us to keep cash in the business as well as invest in new machinery.”

Craig Walker, a Small Business Relationship Manager at Virgin Money, said: “The Vinyl Guys is a great example of an entrepreneur exploring his passion and turning it into a viable career. Alex has a refreshing approach to business and the relationships he’s established are helping his growth strategy.

“Taking a business from a hobby to that next level is not an easy task and there are a lot of different areas Alex needs to consider on a daily basis, including marketing, production and admin, so I’m pleased we have been able to support Alex on the financial side and explore the different options that are available to him as he continues to expand.”