CBA20 Winners Stories: Chris J. Birch & Jak Björnström - Haus

Kindly sponsored by Cardiff Metropolitan University the Entrepreneur of the Year was awarded to Chris J. Birch & Jak Björnström. The pair have a number of successful businesses and still have many plans ahead of them. We found out a bit more about their win and what advice they can give to any budding entrepreneurs:-

1. Why did you enter the Cardiff Business Awards?

We’ve entered the Awards previously for our Haus Estate Agency and our former Cleaning Company; Apollo where we Won ‘Employer of the Year’ twice so thought this was an excellent opportunity to showcase our individual accomplishments outside the Companies we own and use the Award Ceremony to help summarise our achievements and, in a way, analyse if we were doing well as Entrepreneurs outside a balance sheet. 

2. What does winning a Cardiff Business Award mean to your business?   

We were blown away to have won. I know a lot of people say that they weren’t expecting it (and you don’t entirely think that’s true) but honestly, we weren’t expecting to win. Looking at the competition, there were some brilliant Entrepreneurs and we secretly took bets on who we thought may win and none of them were us. 

It’s meant a huge amount to us. Chris was branching off into a Business Consultancy role and Jak was moving into Project Management role at our Property Company so this Award amplified our presence in those arenas greatly. Sometimes, something as small as the term ‘Award Winning’ can be the difference needed to get the contract. We were so pleased and the award has pride of place.

3. How do you strive to make a difference in the Cardiff Business market?

 We have built quite a few companies over the past decade and worked incredibly hard to support people like us who are entrepreneurial and totally, unendingly passionate about what they create. 

Every company is either based in Cardiff or operates in the City and many of them have front-facing stores and offices. We’d like to think that we’re developing and improving the area as well as providing real, long term roles within our companies that people can grow into and develop with us, whether they own it with us or just work for us. 

4. What are your goals for the next 12 months? 

We’ve just launched a new software company after seeing the potential in an employee and have helped set the wheels in motion for this new brand to help grow the online presence of lots of local retailers and offer AI services to reduce admin time. 

Jak is pushing forward with enhancing the project management and interior design aspect of the company and we’re already 75% booked for 2021.

Chris is continuing working with SME’s as a consultant as well as recently taking part ownership in a new construction training company, utilising his lecturing skills.

5. What is the biggest lesson you have learned in the past year as a company?

I guess it’d be how we’ve adapted ourselves to working from home and staying active as company owners. When most of our firms went into hibernation, we found ourselves with a lot of time and going from 100 to 0 in 48 hours was an experience we wouldn’t like to repeat. 

Using our time to help others became one of the most vital parts of 2020 for us. We setup The Think Tank as a Podcast giving unbiased advice for small business owners in Wales and branched that into small office spaces for people to access.

6. What one piece of advice would you give to any aspiring business owner?

If you want to be adored, found a Charity. If you want to be loved, rescue a Dog.

For Everything else, start a Business.

Take Advice and Trust Yourself.

7. What did you think of the virtual awards ceremony? 

It ran incredibly smoothly and given the obvious logistical issues surrounding having people in places together, it was seamless. As much as I enjoy face to face ceremonies, I think there maybe a place for something like this in the future. You guys should be incredibly proud of getting it together and running it when most have paused or done a totally recorded version. 

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