Name ? James Baker
Born ? Yes!
Marital Status ? Married to Rachel (long suffering!)
School ? St Michaels then Canford
Uni ? Mature student at Cranfield Business School
First Job ? Cleaning boats for Jersey Cruising School
Car ? Several. Slight obsession with Porsche, Land Rover and motorbikes
Book ?Just read ?3 Para ? This is War? – outstanding if you want to know what Military Operations are really like. For me, reference to friends of mine now fighting a hard war. Just starting ?Plundering the Public Sector? ? a depressing look at the disgraceful and obscene wastes of money politicians subject us to.
Music ? Just discovered the whole iPod thing so enjoying everything from 80?s up to today.
Film ? Pulp Fiction
Gadget ? Leatherman
Last holiday ? Sailing in the West Indies
What do you like to do in your downtime?
Getting afloat is a near necessity if the weather is good. I also enjoy driving and motorbiking in Europe ? little can beat dawn breaking in a great car on deserted roads – preferably heading to the South of France via the Col de Turini.
So, tell us what inspired you to get this off the ground?
A conversation at one of the Breakfast Club meetings gave rise to the idea of a driving agency which quickly evolved into an all encompassing labour agency.
What did you do prior to starting this business?
I built the Lido Medical Centre, I was MD of Jersey Yacht Management; prior to that I had a brief spell in the City as well as experience of a number of start ups here and the UK. I have been a professional Yacht Captain and run a yacht charter business. I was in the British Army for 7 years before studying for an MBA.
Did that teach you any lessons that helped you succeed?
Every stage of your life provides you with more knowledge and experience to better tackle the next. There is no substitute for serious hard work and commitment to the job in hand.
What?s the hardest lesson you?ve learnt since starting Grafters?
The hardest lesson is that people who you have faith in let you down.
And funny stories that you have about the business starting out?!
We did some community work at Durrell and ?Ya kwanza? took a dislike to one of our carpenters and proceeded to throw his food and large lumps of turf out of his enclosure at our worker with surprising accuracy. The novelty didn?t wear off for the week he was working there!
What are your plans for the future?
Our plans for this year are to open another UK office and open an international office which we are presently researching in Hong Kong.
What advice would you give to would be entrepreneurs?
1. Control costs. Absolutely bolt down and know your costs. Far too many people get caught up in the glamour and excitement of a new business and waste money totally unnecessarily.
2. Importance of the right people. With the right people you can do anything. The problem is rarely with the product!
3. Focus ? concentrate on what you should be doing. Remain flexible, but stick to what your business is about and don?t get distracted with ?hair brain? ideas. Hard work does pay off!