Skiing the mountain of business success - Business Works
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Skiing the mountain of business success

by Dan, Rebecca and Sam Frith, SkiBoutique The idea for SkiBoutique came about during a summer evening in Zermatt, where Dan Frith was working and living. His brother Sam and his wife, Rebecca were over in Europe to catch up with family and friends and were in Zermatt to visit Dan. During an evening meal the idea was floated about starting their own luxury ski chalet agency.

As the consumption of red wine steadily increased the idea seemed more and more appealing. Dan comments, "I remember waking up the next morning thinking, had this been a serious conversation? Or was it just the red wine talking?" In the cold light of day, the next morning, it seemed like a pretty solid idea and so they started the ball rolling. Sam searched the web and found that the competition was pretty uninspiring, the websites were okay, but nothing really stood out to match the level of luxury and affluence of the properties that the sites were offering. His training and experience in graphic design and branding had equipped him with a flair for putting together a website that could reflect and present the stunning accommodation that was to be their stock in trade.


"An easily navigable, concise and attractive website was called for and I set about the process of producing just such a site," said Sam. "I was inspired by the truly stunning luxury ski chalets that we were going to represent and I wanted to do them justice, something I found lacking on other sites." Dan, meanwhile, set about the task of gathering together a portfolio of some of the finest ski chalets in the Alps. The friends and contacts he'd made during several years in the ski industry were proving to be extremely useful and gave SkiBoutique leverage.

"We were on our way. We had proved our idea had legs and that we had the expertise to make it work. Early on, a major headache was the shortage of time - there just weren't enough hours in the day and the fact that we were all wearing too many hats, each with too many areas to cover. The sheer amount of data that needed collating and presenting on the website, the amount of enquiries and PA work for clients who had made bookings, not to mention the admin work, was overwhelming at times. We were making it up as we went along, we were growing too fast and we definitely needed help" continued Dan.

"The winter of 2013-14 was a turning point. We decided that it was time to bite the bullet and employ staff. We also needed a little more business acumen and guidance in getting to the next stage of our development. We had recommendations for a business coach from a couple of people who had found the advice and insights they'd gained indispensable, so we enlisted the help of Alan Brighton and have so far found his advice to be invaluable. He's got us to step back from the emotions involved in running a family business and has helped us to see things from a fresh perspective.

break out of the self-imposed restrictions

Alan gave us a book to read, The E Myth Enterprsie, by Michael E Gerber, which was a revelation. It deals with the pitfalls associated with small businesses and how to address these, to break out of the self-imposed restrictions. The main thrust being to implement and put systems in place that could be understood by anyone new to the business.

It's very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that no one else could do what we do and try to remain in control of every aspect. This is business suicide at worst and a major obstacle to growing any business. Our plan, going forward, is to put systems in place that are workable to new staff members and to step back and resist the temptation to be too hands on. Obviously there are still areas where our individual expertise will be essential, we will concentrate on these aspects and step back from the things that can easily be handled by others, freeing up our time and giving us a balance and the chance to think of and develop new business ideas."

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