My Week: Zak Edwards of

The online entrepreneur on re-launching his website - and why he loves running a family business.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is turn on my iPhone so I can check out Twitter and Facebook, as well as check for new Aston Villa signings at  I find Twitter is a great source of news; if anything of interest has happened you tend to hear it there first. After showering and dressing I walk the 21 steps to the office – I literally live next door to where we work. The company is based in a farmhouse and I live in the barn next door.

At the beginning of the week I’ll have a number of meetings with the heads of departments, all of whom I know pretty well. The company is a little incestuous: my girlfriend works here, she’s our creative director and my brother is the purchasing director. Added to that you’ve also got my girlfriend’s two sisters, my aunt and my brother’s wife who works with us too.

I like the fact it’s a family-run business. For me, one of the main benefits is that you’ve all got a common goal. I’m not saying that our other staff don’t care but family members do have more of a vested interest in the success of the business. Likewise, I do recognise that the family dynamic can cause massive problems, like if there was a relationship breakdown for example. Also, there is a temptation to talk to each other slightly differently to the way you talk to non-family colleagues. So for me it’s important to remain professional when in the workplace.

That said, we are a laid-back lot. As far as I’m concerned, I’m here 10 hours a day so I want it to be enjoyable for me as much as for everybody else. If everybody’s sat here with a face like a slapped arse it won’t be much fun. So we try and keep it nice and vibrant. I feel that a happy team is a more productive team, and hopefully that will translate into commercial success.

We are launching our website next week so we have been having lots of discussions about that. We’re hoping that the improved look and feel of the site will result in higher conversion rates. Web analytics is actually something that I’m really into – at the beginning of every week I’ll sit down and look at how the site is doing in terms of visitor numbers and where they’re coming from etc. We’ve actually taken on a scientist to conduct some detailed analysis of the business. She is an ex-cancer research scientist – she also happens to be my brother’s wife – and she’ll be analysing everything from conversion rates to price comparison with competitors.

I’ve also been involved in meetings regarding a new joint venture with our fulfilment company. We’re hoping to launch the new business in October so at the moment it’s just a case of working out of all our individual responsibilities – I’m not used to working with anyone else so this is quite important.

If truth be told, I’m actually a bit of a workaholic; I’m not sure I know the meaning of work/life balance. The only holiday I’ve taken in a year was a week long break to Cornwall and I’m not even sure if that counts. I’m going to remedy that next year though with a month long trip to Australia and Las Vegas that I’m planning at the moment. And I can’t wait. 

Zak Edwards is the founder and MD of – a Birmingham-based e-tailer that specialises in gadgets and gifts.

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