Gavin Gration, founder and director of Manchester Video Ltd
Manchester Video Ltd really is the definition of a micro business, with just one primary member of staff (Gavin himself) who regularly works closely with a number of other skilled freelancers in the industry. After a career in engineering, Gavin decided to set up his own business back in 1996, utilising his passion for video and production technology. Today, we catch up with Gavin to find out how he grew Manchester Video Ltd from a side hustle in his spare bedroom to the successful company it is today.
If you had to describe your company in a couple of lines, what would it be?
We actually specialise in quite a lot of different areas, so I’d probably describe Manchester Video Ltd as the swiss army knife of digital video services! From livestreaming conferences and events to processing complex video evidence and providing digital video conversion services.
When did you start Manchester Video Ltd?
I was always into computers and graphics as a kid. I’ve always had a real thirst for gadgets, digital graphics, anything related to video and tech really. When digital video technology arrived in the late 90’s, I was working as an industrial engineer at the time, but really wanted to get stuck into the world of tech. To tell you the truth, when I was in my 20s and the first ever digital video camera came out I really wanted to get my hands on one, purely just for fun at first! I worked really hard to get one and then as soon as I did, I started filming news footage and submitting my work to Granada Television, the BBC, Manchester Evening News, etc. I couldn’t believe how much things took off, especially with it being something I enjoyed so much.
After a few years in the industry I worked out that a lot of companies were struggling with their digital tech. That’s when I decided to learn as much as I could and specialise in all of the areas other people were finding most difficult. That’s really when Manchester Video Ltd came about. I began filming events, transferring to video tapes to DVD and processing video evidence such as CCTV footage. I got my first ever cheque from a client in 1996 so in total I’ve been doing this now for just over 25 years.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced since starting your business?
Making the decision to go full time and give up my career in engineering was definitely a gamble and was something that took me a long time to decide to do. I just had to take a leap of faith and trust my instincts that if I worked hard I could make things work. I had a young family at the time so had a lot of responsibility to make sure I got it right – but the hard work paid off and starting my own business actually meant that I could earn more money and have the flexibility to spend more valuable time with my wife and kids as they were growing up.
Leading on from that, another challenge I’ve faced over the years is striking a good work life balance. Shifting premises from a study in my home to a commercial office space back in 2009 definitely helped with this and created a separation between my professional and personal life which made a huge difference.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
I just really enjoy what I do! Every day is different, I’m always meeting new people, learning new skills and overcoming new challenges. It really keeps things exciting! I often joke around that I’m like a kid in a sweet shop when I’m working, simply because it all started out as a hobby. All of these years have gone by and I still love what I do as much as I did on day one. I think having complete control over what I do each day definitely is the best part of running my own business, and I think my passion shows when you look at the outcome of what I do.
Again, the flexibility is also a big one for me. Being able to pick and choose when I go on holiday and shape my working day around what suits me best is great. Each and every client is really important to me, no matter how big or small and having the ability to provide various solutions for different people each day gives me a lot of satisfaction for sure.
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about starting their own business?
Make sure it’s something you enjoy. You might be in an industry that you know a lot about or have tonnes of qualifications or experience in, but if you don’t enjoy what you do – what’s the point? That’s always been the most important thing for me when it comes to my business, and it’s definitely my biggest piece of advice for anyone who’s thinking about starting their own.
It’s always great to hear about small business owners who have a passion for what they do, and to hear about how business owners such as Gavin have managed to improve their work life balance. To find out more about the services Gavin offers, head over to his website Manchester Video Ltd.