COMING UP FAST: Decisions - Tom Hunter, TBH Holdings

COMING UP FAST: Decisions - Tom Hunter, TBH Holdings - MY BEST ... My best decision was starting my first business, Sports Division.

by TOM HUNTER, TBH Holdings
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

MY BEST ... My best decision was starting my first business, Sports Division.

Bizarrely, it came about through my being apparently unemployable - no-one would offer me a job after I graduated. My father had been involved in the shoe business and I saw a niche for turning functional footwear into fashion statements. I took a pounds 5,000 loan from him - thankfully, university taught me the difference between debt and equity - and pounds 5,000 from the bank and started selling sports trainers out of the back of a van. We built the business up through a major acquisition programme and ongoing product and marketing innovation to become the UK's biggest sports shoe retailer, and I eventually sold it for pounds 290 million. Now I can put something back in to support fellow entrepreneurs.

MY WORST ... Letting my heart rule my head and starting a business, Kart-Tracks, that was doomed to failure. I love motor sport and thought I could make a real go of a go-karting business, but I did everything I now know was wrong. No research, no business case and relatively little by way of knowledge of the sector. One of my all-time sporting heroes, Jackie Stewart, opened the karting centre in a blaze of publicity, but I shut it a few months later, having learnt my lesson well; the market just wasn't there.

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