Following the news that 2XL Commercial and Darren Willoughby have been made finalists in the Niche Awards, we catch up with managing director Darren Willoughby to talk all things awards and his plans for the business…
1) What is your view on awards and putting yourself forward for them?
“It is always something as a business that we have shied away from as I think there is a fine line in between “self-promotion “ and actually being recognized for doing well – the independence of the niche awards and the judging process for me ensures that it’s a credible set of awards to enter and that sits very much in line with our business ethos – I think now after twelve years and seeing the growth within the business that we now need to let the greater business community know what we do and what better way than doing this via the awards process”
2) How does it feel to not only be nominated but now a Finalist for two categories this year?
“To be a finalist in the two categories we’ve entered was a real shock given the standard of the other candidates – to be recognised as one of the top three small businesses is an amazing achievement and one that the rest of the 2XL Commercial team can share in and recognise their achievements – on a personal level to be recognised in the rising star category is great for me but I couldn’t have done it without the hard work of the team and also those within the business community that supports us as both clients and introducers”
3) How do you see the awards? What value can they bring to your company?
“Profile, profile and more profile…When we first started working on raising the business profile it was something we had always done and still do by meetings with introducers and clients alike and building a business that way and that will never change – I think the awards are just the tip of that iceberg really and it’s more about reinforcing what we do as opposed to initial promotion and ensures that 2XL Commercials name is on the tip of peoples tongues when it comes to anything to do with business or commercial finance.”
4) How did you first start 2XL Commercial Finance?
“As former bank managers with a global bank, we helped set up a team that worked with commercial brokers and that business relied on working with external introducers such as accountants, IFAs and commercial brokers – we realized that the standard of the broker community twelve years ago at times left a lot to be desired and we believed there was a gap for a credible and reliable brokerage. We believed we had the skills and expertise to fill that gap and help professionals who were looking to assist their clients’ source commercial lending.”
5) How do you strive for success?
“I think it was initially through necessity – when you start a business with just £3000 in your pocket it’s a pretty good reason to jump out of bed in the morning! I think from that initial fear of failure you then look to see how you stabilise the business; once you have got to that point its really all about growth on individual and business level – success takes many forms for some of the team it’s about having the freedom to work on their terms and for others, it’s about the ability to be rewarded well for their efforts – At the stage, I am it’s about now trying to be the very best you can be and to build for the future.”
6) Do you usually celebrate your successes? How?
“I think anyone reading this who knows me and didn’t see “having a few pints and a giggle” in this space would accuse me of being a liar! On a serious note, I don’t really “celebrate it “ as such as success, in whatever shape or form is something you should continue to strive for. The minute you stand still, in my opinion, you’re going backwards, so it’s important not to rest on your laurels and continue moving forwards”
7) Having been made a Finalist, are you more likely to nominate yourself and your company for awards?
“Interesting, as this is something that I was talking about at the finalist announcement. I think we will enter more awards but be picky about what we do enter. I would like to think that if we entered something we would have a good chance and that we actually want to win it and not just do it purely to get our name out there. The awards have to be credible and if they are then we will certainly look to get involved”
8) What are the next steps for 2XL Commercial Finance?
“Growth – I would like to get up to approximately ten offices and then this will then perhaps allow me to do more work “on the business” as opposed to “in the business”. I do enjoy doing the deals and this is something I would not want to lose. We are opening a second office in Leicester in August and I would be very keen to recruit perhaps in Nottingham, Derby and Birmingham to complement what we already have in Manchester, Cheshire, Southampton, London and Gloucester. We are very much about getting the right people as opposed to just putting a bum on a seat?
9) Where do you want to take your company?
“Very much a moving feast – I am happy with its progress and if the plans for the next two years can be executed I would like to think we could place in excess of £100 million of lending in the next financial year. This would be a great achievement from the team as a whole and would mean we are executing what we do well in ensuring our clients and introducers are looked after and that would be the greatest success of all!”