We recently spoke to Lincolnshire based business owner, Mark Rands of Starsys Ltd about his business – and what kept him busy during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
Can you tell us a little about your business?
I started my business in 2003 operating as an Interim Manager within food manufacturing. In recent years as our children grew up, my wife Linda started to get more involved in the business, as we developed it into a consultancy, providing performance improvement and training (still in the food manufacturing industry).
Then came Covid -19, the lockdown, and basically sidelined our business.
With spare time on our hands and an idea I’d had after a life-changing car crash in January of 2013, we set about developing our own range of sports nutrition.
Ours would need to be gout friendly (low purine) and all-natural. I’d always been into training, sports nutrition, Athletics, Karate & Gym but due to the head injury I’d suffered in the crash, this meant the way my body processed foods had changed. I could no longer take the usual Whey proteins:- I’d tried so many different things since then with no success – and suffered because of it.
When the first Covid-19 lockdown happened, I had the time and no excuses or distractions to develop and perfect our new protein powder product. When I was recovering from the crash, my determination had always been to be “Bigger-Better-Stronger-Leaner-Faster”, and this has become the motto of our Natural Gainz products and our website.
We’ve just launched our website www.naturalgainz.co.uk in November 2020, starting with two post-workout recovery shakes and lots more product ideas in development.
What led you to take the plunge originally and start your own business?
Like so many people who start as Interim Managers, I was made redundant. I decided to take the leap to start a Ltd company and work for myself. It’s not always been easy but the freedom I get to make my own decisions and develop my Company how I want to, makes it all worthwhile.
How did you find out about the support on offer from NBV?
I discovered NBV when I attended an open day at Boston College late in 2019.
How has business mentoring helped your business grow?
NBV Business Adviser John Owens’ help has been enlightening. Having been focussed on selling my time and expertise over the last 17 years, John helped me realise I needed to work on my business and his advice and guidance helped me realise what I needed to do to build a sustainable business for the future.
We really are a family run business now with my wife and eldest son working hard to build not only our brand Natural Gainz but also get our Consultancy business back up to its full potential post Covid-19
What are your plans for the future of the business?
Big plans for an all-natural healthy range of protein-enhanced foods! When I say natural I mean natural – no additives and no chemicals. But I also want to continue with the growth of the Consultancy business to fulfill it’s potential.
What have been the memorable highs and lows of your business journey so far?
I’ll start with the lows first as I always like to finish on a positive. Covid-19 wiped out most of my consultancy income overnight, but luckily we’ve been able to finance ourselves so far. We’re looking to apply for grants via NBV for equipment and services that will help us develop Natural Gainz.
Highs, in previous years working for myself, meant I could take time out with my young family and travel around France during the summer – creating memories for life.
Have you got any advice for others starting out on a similar business path?
If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Believe in yourself and your idea and work smart and hard. I mean really hard, Like 8 days a week hard!