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Five minutes with Kained Holdings

Mo Clark, director of Kained Holdings, owner of the Finnieston Bar, Lebowski’s in Glasgow and in Edinburgh, the Crafty Pig and Porter & Rye, offers insights into the challenges he has faced and overcome.

My business card says: My name and ‘director’ although there is also an interesting logo, which says “Three gentlemen frequent above the old Georgian tavern of Finnieston, Glasgow”. This refers to the three guys that started and still run Kained Holdings.

I would describe my business self, in five words, as: Driven, focused, prepared, pragmatic and proactive.

The hardest part of setting up the business was: Sacrifice, both in terms of time and the lack of a work-life balance. It is completely one-sided when you are setting a business up.

The biggest challenge for my business has been: Recruiting key staff, which continues to be an issue. The pool of suitable recruits is quite small – massive amounts of people say that they can do a job but the vast majority can’t. The market is quite saturated.

My biggest business regret is: Missed opportunities. We have previously been offered establishments that we thought – for whatever reason – were not right for us at the time. With hindsight, in some cases we should have taken a leap of faith.

My greatest business success is: Probably our most recent offering, the Porter & Rye. The popularity, turnover and notoriety it has gained have far surpassed our expectations.

The key to being a successful small business owner is: There are many keys but I would say having a clear vision and direction is the most important. Everyone who joins will subsequently need to buy into this. We use a practical demonstration of this with our new starters: we ask them to close their eyes, turn them around and then point to north. They always end up pointing the wrong way. The key to success is ensuring that everyone is pointing the right way through shared values.

My top tip for entrepreneurs is: Be smart and brave. You can be brave but stupid or be smart but not get anywhere. The trick is getting the balance right.

The one thing that has saved me the most time with running my business is: Employing the right people. You can only move from being a manager to a director if you can delegate to others and trust them. It is also key to empower these people so that they can get things done.

The one thing I would do differently with my business if I had my time again is: Become smarter sooner! It may sound strange but I wish I had worked more in the industry before starting my own business. Instead of gaining valuable expertise through experience, I have often had to learn the hard way.

The business headline I would most like to see is: ‘Kained Holdings is the Number One Employer to Work For’: that way I would find recruitment easier. Either that or ‘World Peace Declared’.

If I wasn’t answering these questions I would be: Probably in a meeting or dealing with other company issues.

My top money-saving tip is: My top tip would be to utilise multiple avenues for getting best rates for utilities. Have agents competing against each other and then end up with as the best option.

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