Paul Friday has been working in the energy reduction monitoring sector for the best part of 30 years. Eight years ago he and his wife Karen decided to set up their own business to “bring something new to the table”. Future Focus doubled down on Paul’s commercial energy monitoring expertise but with a crucial difference compared to the rest of the market. “The software is clever but it’s too complicated. So we set out to create a monitoring system that was smart as any other, but incredibly easy for busy people to use, and which gave them the information they really wanted, simply.”
Business was good, especially with one London-based client who grew to be Future Focus’ biggest customer. Then, one Monday morning in 2018, Paul’s biggest client ceased trading. He couldn’t pay suppliers. His credit score plummeted. Paul could have walked away at that point. Instead, he decided to rebuild and committed to ensuring every penny he owned was paid back, but he couldn’t do that from his existing base.
Rebuilding at the Enterprise Centre
“We were in larger premises at the time in Blackpool,” he explains. “We needed to cut back and find a base that gave us good access and a good network to public facilities. Security was important to us because our work involved a lot of travel so we needed a secure office in a secure building with somebody always on reception who could take deliveries when we were away. It also meant that when Karen was working alone in the office she felt safe.
“The Enterprise Centre gave us a foundation to rebuild from.”
Rebuilding the business meant introducing new products and services. Paul built a new network of partnerships to offer energy control systems that would enable estate managers to understand the energy use across their systems, turning information from air conditioners manufactured by lots of different companies into a common language that helped them reduce their energy consumption. Blue chip clients were returning to the business, but then came the pandemic.
“COVID hit us hard—we needed to be able to visit our clients and we couldn’t for obvious reasons—but I realised it wasn’t going to last forever,” Paul says. He set about ensuring Future Focus was ready to hit the ground running the moment lockdown restrictions were eased.
He used the time to set up Enprin, a new website selling the energy management and monitoring systems that Future Focus would typically install. He built relationships with more partners, adding energy procurement and renewable energy battery storage to Future Focus’ offering.
Despite the diversification, Paul stayed true to Future Focus’ original mission. “We’re still here to humanise the industry,” he says. “We’re no longer just dealing with metering systems, but user-friendliness remains crucial.”
More services are in development. More clients are coming on board. Turnover is now on target to be higher than it was before Paul began his enforced rebuilding strategy. All the creditors from 2018 have been fully repaid.
A safe haven
If Paul had been grateful for finding the Enterprise Centre at a critical time, he was doubly so during the pandemic. Being part of Blackpool Council gave him the extra security and reassurance he needed. “Costs were fixed, which was really important. With a private landlord we’d have been worried about them putting prices up. Everything’s included, so there are no hidden costs, and it’s well maintained and exceptionally clean. That became even more important during the pandemic but we always felt safe.
“If we need to host a meeting here we can hire one of the rooms upstairs for a nominal fee. That always helps create a good impression with a client or potential client.
“Also, I only live five minutes away so I can walk to work in the morning!”
Face your challenges
The past four years have been extremely challenging for Paul and Karen. Yet with the security of the Enterprise Centre behind them, they can look to the future with optimism.
“You have to face your challenges. When you start a business you must believe you can make a living out of it. So hold onto that desire and belief and adapt to what’s around you. That’s what we’ve done, and being at the Enterprise Centre has helped us do it.”
Find the right office space for your business now. Talk to EC2 from Blackpool Unlimited.