Mike is a director at Land of Beds, a two-store independent retailer and consumate ecommerce business which has garnered numerous awards for enterprise and technological innovation. He is also a non-executive director at buying group AIS.
How might a child describe what you do?
Simple – help people get a good night’s sleep! One of the phrases we have on the wall at our office (just outside one of our meeting rooms, called the Dream Lab) is the phrase: “Once upon a time there was a Land filled with Beds and everyone slept happily ever after.” Kids always love coming into our showrooms to jump on all the beds – it’s like going to a trampoline park!
What’s the biggest long-term challenge you face?
How to cost-effectively recycle mattresses. It’s a big challenge that the whole industry needs to come together to solve. We need a joined-up supply chain approach to tackle this problem. It needs considering from the start of product development and selection of raw materials right through to getting goods back from consumers’ homes and sent to recycling facilities. If we can crack this problem effectively and efficiently, it will be better for the planet, consumers, and businesses.
If you had 10 x your working budget, what would you spend it on?
We have a great business, with great people – the main thing now is to scale the operation by growing our brand awareness. Therefore, the increased budget would be invested in marketing strategies to advertise our brand to a wider audience to gain market share. Once we get new customers, we do a pretty good job of converting them and making them happy.
What does ‘work/life balance’ mean to you?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs who all worked incredibly hard but had a healthy work/life balance. My dad ran his own business for 40 years and never missed anything his kids did.
I believe you must work hard and commit to being the best you can be at what you love. I love my family more than anything – therefore, I engineered a job role where what I did each day revolves around their schedule, to never miss anything important.
Family always comes first. Work is very important, and to be successful with a balanced approach you must be very organised, work smart and divide responsibility between people you trust. That way you can create balance without neglecting important stuff outside of your job.
Who’s been your most influential professional mentor?
My grandad. Growing up, I was incredibly close to my grandad, who started the business that I run today. He was not afraid to fail, and never sweated the small stuff. He taught me many lessons about life, including how to be kind and respectful, to care about people and have integrity. He had so much positive energy and an amazing sense of humour, always making people laugh and feeling good about themselves.
I was a lucky kid to have such a great role model. I often reflect before making big decisions by asking myself, ‘Would my grandad be proud of what I am about to do?’
What advice would you give your younger self?
Find something you enjoy and are passionate about, which could contribute to improving society or helping individual people. Try and become the best you can be at it. If you find you have a talent for it, see if you can then make money from it. If you can make money from it, you will have created a recipe for success and fulfilment.
What’s been your best day in business to date?
My parents worked hard all their life to support me and my siblings. So, for me, the best day of my working life was the day I bought my parents out of the family business, allowing them to retire early.
What should everyone in our industry either stop or start doing?
I believe successful people are like a sponge – they continue learning at every opportunity, soak up information and have a thirst for knowledge. Personally, I love to work out every morning whilst listening to podcasts about inspiring people and the lives they live – hopefully I can always take a nugget of information to help me improve and seize each day. We are never too old to learn new tricks.
Where do you see the industry going in the next 5-10 years?
I think it’s safe to say that we need to all be working on our multichannel strategies – good businesses will show up where the customers want to be. Sustainability and good environmental policies will become the norm to doing business. Therefore, investments here should be made today, so in 10 years’ time you are still in business.
This interview featured in March's Furniture News.