Between February – June 2018, we held a competition on Smarta Formations for anyone who formed their company through our website. The prize… A pair of VIP tickets to Silverstone 6 for the 2018 Formula 1™ Rolex British Grand Prix! Our lucky winner was Christopher Bale, of CJ Bale Transport Limited. Find out about his winning experience, and also details on his start-up journey experiences and what advice he has for other entrepreneurs.
How was the Grand Prix?
The experience was fantastic. I went with my wife (who was 37 weeks pregnant at the time) and having the opportunity to do this before the birth of our first child was incredible. It was literally the best day of my life, bar getting married and I’ll never forget it. We were in the grand stand hospitality unit, the view at vantage point was amazing and racing cars…I’ve been in love with racing cars most of life. I sadly lost my dad 5 years ago and it was our dream to go to Silverstone together; I felt like he was part of the day too.
What exactly does CJ Bale Transport do?
I provide transport solutions for large companies on an ad hoc or contractual basis.
I’ve worked in logistics all my working life and started as a van driver aged 20 and moved up the ranks, working for other people. I knew this was something deep down I could do myself but didn’t have the confidence to do so for a while. The choices were to either work for myself, or just stay where I am but not really having job satisfaction.
Chris chose the former and set up CJ Bale Transport Limited which he registered through Smarta Formations.
I completed by Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) training and passed first time. This was the first step to me actually going solo.
How was the process of setting up your business?
The set-up was easy, simple and well presented online. I had a few questions, and my account manager explained to me over the phone all the information or questions I needed answering very concisely and constructively as possible – there was no legal jargon. I felt like Smarta was the first company that were willing to help rather than hinder my start-up experience.
What have been the highlights and lowlights of starting up?
I won’t lie, there has been so many low points which fundamentally came down to my confidence initially, and people looking at me like I’m mad! You really need to have the sheer guts and find it within yourself to contemplate doing it (setting up a business).
There have been times where I sit down at night and figures don’t add up, or I’ve got more money going out then coming in – so to begin with there was lots of self-doubt.
However, the highlights far outweigh any lowlights, there’s so many people that have been willing to take a chance on me and my services.
I’ve also had some invaluable advice from others that have been in my shoes, the camaraderie from those that have started their own business has been fantastic. They’ve offered constructive feedback and they’re great to have around to ask as many questions as I need and get honest answers – it’s priceless.
What do you enjoy most about owning your own business?
I wake up and think ‘Holy Cow – I’ve done it and achieved what I’ve dreamed of doing. My dad always challenged me to be better than what I think I can do; his motto was ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’ – I don’t like to fail at all!
As mentioned, Chris has struggled with confidence, and his wife’s encouragement has been key to his success…
My wife kept telling me it’s alright to fail, learning from your mistakes is what counts.
I’m so glad I’ve done this before our child comes along, I feel proud to say that I’ve started up my business through hard work and determination.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their new business
Do your research and always, always believe in yourself. Don’t give up, always strive to achieve what you want to.