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5 tips on building a serious business from the CEO of Upside Down House

24-year-old entrepreneur Tom is the CEO of a very topsy-turvy business: Upside Down House, an upside down tourist attraction in Bournemouth. Less than one year into trading, Tom already has plans to open a second house and has a vision to open dozens of houses for visitors all over the UK. We spoke to the Barclaycard Business customer about getting his upside down dream taken seriously, the power of social media marketing, and his top tips for small business owners.

1. Have confidence in your vision

Tom’s business plan – to construct a house built completely on its head as a residential tourist attraction – is not your everyday small business plan.

“I never had any uncertainty about building the first house, or even that there would be a second house” 

“It’s very difficult to explain something that’s not been done in the UK, particularly when you are placing a house on its roof. It was tough to get everyone on board,” says Tom.

But while it was challenging to convince others that his unusual business could be a success, the entrepreneur says he had faith in the concept from the get-go.

“I never had any uncertainty about building the first house, or even that there would be a second house,” Tom says. “For a small business owner, if you are uncertain then you need to go back to the drawing board and find out what makes you feel unsure about your business.”

Upside down house

2. Be prepared to put in the work

In the early months of starting the business, Tom was working hard on getting the upside down house constructed – while also continuing with his day job.

“At that time, I was still working full-time as a quantity surveyor. I was doing two jobs, and it was very difficult. You’re working through your lunch break, after work you’re working past midnight. It was gruelling, but that hard work paid off. It’s given me the drive to expand the business,” he says.

“A lot of what keeps your mind at bay as a small business owner is having the right staff”

3. Build a strong team

Any entrepreneur will understand the worry that comes with running a business. For Tom, employing the right team is key to keeping things running smoothly.

“A lot of what keeps your mind at bay as a small business owner is having the right staff,” he says. “You need to ensure that the staff you hire, especially when you first start up, are the right team – that they are honest, and they are happy in their role.”

4.  Harness the power of social media

The opportunity to take a unique photo is a big part of why visitors go to Upside Down House. In today’s social media age, visitors post, share and tag their photos online – providing an organic source of marketing for the business.

“Our marketing technique is simple,” says Tom. “People like taking Instagram-worthy photos, so the house is marketing itself in a way. People take photos, upload them to social media and tag us in them, and other people see it and comment.”

5. Choose the right payment solution

Providing customers with a convenient payment experience – and aiming to keep queues down – is top of mind for Tom. At Upside Down House, customers can pay by card quickly and easily using Barclaycard terminals.

“Often when you go to an attraction you may need to pay by cash or purchase a token in advance, but at Upside Down House you can just tap your card and you’re in. It can help to save time for people if they don’t have to go and find a cash machine, or worry about having cash,” says Tom.

And finally... do something unique

It's all about spicing it up and looking at what's happening in the market. "Without knowing what else is going on you can't change a thing because you're going to be in the same mentality that everyone else is", says Tom.

 

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