What made you make the move into running your own business?
“I could see that there was a gap in the market in Gibraltar’s tourism product which seemed to have not changed very much in numerous years. I was interested in introducing more activity-led tourism which was working well in lots of other countries and which I believed could translate well to Gibraltar which is such an iconic location. I started with Lazer-Tag, which is what the business is most known for, but have since established Special Ops Gibraltar and a series of branded activity and adventures for tourists and locals alike.”
What were the biggest challenges in the early days and how did you overcome these?
“There were challenges, and when you run a business, challenges come your way regularly. In the early days, ensuring that regulations were all met and then obtaining the business licence was challenging as our activities and events were the first of their kind in Gibraltar. Eventually the licence was obtained, and we moved forward. Yet Special Ops Gibraltar is continuously evolving and we are working on new products at the moment, including www.gib.tours and www.gib.shopping so we have to find solutions to new problems regularly; it’s part of evolving an enterprise.”
Did you ever feel like giving up and how did you overcome that?
“I did indeed feel like giving up at times, especially when sometimes it felt that the odds were stacked against me. At one point I had to stop trading so that some contentious issues could be resolved, and for nine months the business did not earn a penny. But I persisted and with the kind support of many people who helped me stay determined, I persevered and got the business back on track again.”
Was it difficult at times to balance family commitments and business commitments, and what are your tips for finding that balance?
“It is really hard to find balance personal life and business commitments and I find it hard to achieve. I consider myself a hard worker, but I’ve never worked so much in my life as I do for myself. I think that shows where for me, the balance mostly lies.”
What were the biggest mistakes you think you made?
“Starting up with a shoe-string budget. I also like to think that if any mistakes were made I have corrected them and moved on as they are no longer uppermost in my mind. I have learned from mistakes, for example, I make an effort to make communications really clear so that we don’t end up making a double booking. That has happened once before so I now rigorously adhere to a ‘first come first served’ policy and double confirm all details with clients, as I hate to disappoint.”
What would you do differently if you had the chance?
“I would have pursued the Gibraltar Business Nurturing Scheme further as reinvesting most of my earnings into my business has been tough, and the loan would have helped.”
What are the achievements you are most proud of?
“Most definitely successfully appealing the OFT businesses licence conditions in court; I represented myself and did not take on the costs of legal representation. The conditions on my business licence today are self-imposed and common sense, and the success meant I could continue in business.”
What do you think are the most important characteristics of successful business leaders?
“For a start-up like mine (www.lazertag.games), perseverance, believing in yourself, creativity and lots and lots of imagination are essential, but enthusiasm and endurance are also important.”
What is your favourite thing about being in business?
“Watching how people enjoy themselves and the important part I play in the unforgettable memories they are making.”
What is your business dream and has the end game changed for you over the years?
“I would like to see more activity-led tourism in Gibraltar and I work hard to help grow that idea. Visitors who have an interest in something, such as cycling or caving, willingly pay for doing something they enjoy here on the Rock. What excites me about this is the many positive spin offs from keeping visitors in Gibraltar for longer than usual, or encouraging repeat visits because of the activities they have access to. Contributing in some way something to benefit Gibraltar is a strong motivator for me.”
Why did you join the GFSB and what are its greatest strengths?
“I initially joined simply to be part of a group of similar minded people. I then found that the networking was good and much has come from that. I entered the board just in time for the Covid nightmare and the entire GFSB has been extremely proactive liaising with Government in protecting businesses and jobs far beyond our membership. I put myself forward for the board, because I believe in being part of the solution.”