Julian Byrne is the Managing Director and Owner of Piranha Designs.
What made you make the move into running your own business?
“To be honest it happened naturally; from a young age I was always buying and selling, looking at ways to make a profit. Then when I finished University I was working in an advertising agency in London and an opportunity arose to start creating websites, along with my cousin. So we did. After that I moved back to Gib and the doors opened here.”
What were the biggest challenges in the early days and how did you overcome these?
“The internet was still very young in 2000, so it was difficult to convince clients that websites were important and worth investing in. We were quite bold in proving results, and creating examples that helped sell our services quickly. We put a lot of energy and ideas in to our work and that seemed to overcome the obstacles.”
Did you ever feel like giving up and how did you overcome that?
“Not seriously, I enjoy what we do, and I love the fact that we get to meet and help a lot of people. At one point I almost sold the business to my partner, but in the end I bought his share and moved on.”
Was it difficult at times to balance family commitments and business commitments, and what are your tips for finding that balance?
“At the beginning it was difficult, but I was young and single so it didn’t matter too much. When I met my wife we both decided that work would have its time and space, but not interfere with our free time. I have been quite strict with this, living by the motto; work to live not live to work.”
What were the biggest mistakes you think you made?
“Allowing some clients to build up large debts. Not investing in property portals in the early days, when the opportunities were there.”
What would you do differently if you had the chance?
“I would have implemented more systems earlier on. Focussed on recurring revenue, built more of my own products.”
What are the achievements you are most proud of?
“We were part of an innovative 3D virtual world many years ago, where the team laser scanned all of Covent Garden in London and rebuilt it online. That was great fun. Also very pleased that we have setup an office in Edinburgh.”
What do you think are the most important characteristics of successful business leaders?
“Humility, hard/smart workers, problem solvers, peace keepers.”
What is your favourite thing about being in business?
“Freedom. This allows me to choose the things I want to work on, the people I like to work with, the time I wish to spend, and the life I wish to lead.”
What is your business dream and has the end game changed for you over the years?
“I have two dreams. The first one is to make the business fully funded by recurring revenue. The second one is to create some web projects that improve a lot of people’s lives.”
Why did you join the GFSB and what are its greatest strengths?
“I joined many years ago in order to help out with branding and marketing. That evolved into becoming editor of the InTouch and more recently Chairperson. The GFSB has two major advantages. One: as an organisation it is in constant dialogue with Government to help resolve business issues, and two: at the same time gives small business owners a place to meet others who are facing similar battles. Personally, the Federation has helped me to meet a lot of people, and has opened my eyes to the amount of work that is done behind closed doors to keep Gibraltar open for business.