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Interview With Printedtshirts.co.uk Owner & Internet Entrepreneur Max Bramwell

Welcome to the 27th of the weekly interview series where I will speak a wide range of people who have embraced the working remotely opportunity. We will speak to entrepreneurs, business owners, large organisation workers and freelancers about their trials and tribulations when delving into remote working.

This week is someone else I follow closely through twitter and someone who has made fantastic progress at his age. Max Bramwell is a 23 year old entrepreneur residing in Sheffield, England.

Instead of leaving university and finding the first job he could Max did things a little different. Deciding to travel SE Asia for 6 months Max then returned to the UK and delved into the world of Self employment running a number of profitable websites and client projects. His main website Printed T Shirts offers customers the ability to design their own custom printed t shirts.

Max runs his business from his own home in Sheffield living the true working from home dream. Max’s latest project Expertly  is a blog combining the latest tech news, marketing tips, startup related stories. Watch out for Expertly in 2013 as it will be one of the blogs to watch in the internet marketing sector. Enjoy the interview. Superb, insightful tips from a young entrepreneur making his way in the online world.

Q: Hi Max, tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from, where do you live now?

Hi Ryan, I’m a 23 years old internet entrepreneur, I live in Sheffield, a city I was born in and I’m very fond of, it’s the greenest city in the UK with 61% of the city being greenspace and the most trees per person than any other city in Europe. I’m fortunate to live a few minutes from the Peak District and love nothing more than taking my mountain bike up there. I have a passion for business, travelling and startups as well as typical interests including sport, fitness and technology.

Q: What company do you work for and what is your role within the organisation?

I’m self employed and run several websites therefore I’m in charge of everything relating to them from coming up with the ideas to getting the website developed, keeping them updated and promoting them.

Q: Your principle business is printed t shirts via your online business http://www.printedtshirts.co.uk. What made you go into this market and how is the overall business running?

Yes this is one of my main businesses which I’m focusing on at the moment, I really fell into this market after seeing the domain name for sale on an auction site and researching the area and seeing quite a potential. The business has been quite a learning curve as it is my first attempt at ecommerce rather affiliate marketing led sites which I’ve focused on in the past. This has meant me learning how to deal with customers, how to accept payments, dealing with returns etc. The results have been initially okay but feel I do need to do quite lot of work on it for it to start doing really well.

Starting this business also led me into starting to do SEO myself rather than outsourcing it which I’ve previously done, that’s also been an interesting learning curve and one I’ve found very interesting. I’m still learning new things every day that I can apply to my websites and it’s something I’d highly recommend anyone with a business online should learn themselves if not to save the hundreds if not thousands of pounds companies charge per month but to make sure if you are using one that they are not using any dodgy methods.

Q: At 23 you’re relatively fresh in the business world. What made you want to be self employed and do you ever envisage yourself doing something else?

I’ve worked for myself since I was around 15 and so the natural progression for me after University was to go full time for the first time and see if it could sustain me. Being self employed gives me the freedom of working the hours I want which is the biggest advantage I have found. In the near future I can’t see myself not being self employed however I am looking into creating a startup this year which me and a friend are looking into the avenues of venture funding/investors/accelerator programs as the business idea could ideally do with some larger than I normal require capital.

Q: After graduating you spent 6 months travelling SE Asia immersing yourself in the culture. Did this have any influence on your decision to run your own businesses?

Yes it was very influential, speaking to many people out there from England you get to hear how much they love travelling and don’t miss the 9-5 grind, now I on the other hand did miss working slightly, obviously I absolutely loved travelling but it made me realise that I do really enjoy working for myself and it’s something that gives me the opportunities to take longer holidays to explore other parts of the world.

Q: How do you deal with stereotypes from friends in regards to productivity when working from home?  i.e.: Sleep until midday, 2 hour lunch breaks etc.

I get this a lot from people but most close friends realise I don’t do this and in fact I generally work a solid 9-5 with about a 20 minute break for lunch Monday to Friday as well as often doing work related things in the evenings. I enjoy my work so it’s not a drag to get up or work these kind of hours.

Q: What is the most challenging part about working for yourself and how do you overcome this?

The most challenging part of the work I currently do is working on my own, it can be quite an isolated type of environment but luckily I can cope with it by doing things in the evening, splitting up the routine with going to the gym etc. I did move to an office in the city centre for a few months but found the commute of around 40 minutes each way just dug into my productivity and the isolation issue was still around. With the new startup I’m planning I may look to go into a share office/startup environment to overcome this issue.

Q: What are the main positives around working from home?

It has to be being able to get up and get to work in 30 seconds, the commute time that most people have just eats into the work they can do, skipping that means I can get quite a lot done as well as that extra bit of sleep that I do enjoy. Also being able to avoid bad weather is always a great benefit to working from home, no going out in the snow for me unless it’s to make snowmen.

Q: Do you have a dedicated office space and what is the importance of having this?

Yes I have a dedicated room for my office, I think it’s essential to separate business/work from non-work. I have a decent office chair, wireless mouse, separate keyboard etc for my laptop which means it’s a whole different set up aswell.

Q: Any pictures of your office space?

Not at the moment unfortunately 🙁

Q: Do you have any productivity tools you use to keep yourself efficient which may help our readers?

The gym, bit unusual as a tool for productivity but it’s my main one, a big gym session clears my head, makes me feel great and most importantly motivates me. I see a massive increase in productivity when I go to the gym 4 or 5 times a week in comparison to weeks where I don’t go or only go once.

Secondly, you can learn an awful lot from blogs that are related to the industry you work in, I find reading them as well as other blogs related to motivation, business etc can help motivate you, give you new ideas and increase your productivity. The best method I’ve found is to use a tablet to read them in a comfortable environment.

Q: If you could give any advice to our readers before becoming self employed is for them then what would it be?

Be prepared to work harder and longer hours than a normal job, when your working for yourself you know any time slacking is directly hurting only yourself, so you won’t want to slack and if you do you’ll feel very guilty and want to make up the hours.

Secondly be prepared for stress, you’re not getting a set salary per month like you’ll be used to. If something goes wrong and your income drops, for example if you lose a contract or your website drops in the search engines then your monthly income may drop significantly and the stress as well as financial issues are something you must factor in.

Finally, I’d highly recommend that you have a plan that you can use if you lose motivation which can happen in the day, this could be from going off to read some industry blogs, going for a run/to the gym or working on a different project as this can often clear your head and get you back on track when you come back to doing the work you were doing.

Q: Do you believe more organisations should allow those with web based roles to work remotely? If so..how come?

I definitely think that more organisations should allow remote working, as mentioned previously the commute time is taken out of the equation meaning workers will feel their day is shorter hopefully meaning they feel more motivated through the hours they work. I do feel though that the majority of roles would benefit more from part time remote working rather than full time, this is due to another issue I’ve mentioned isolation.

From talking to friends those that mention days when they have worked from home they all thoroughly enjoyed it and did say they got more than they normally achieve done in fewer hours which does show the motivation, lack of distractions and the general advantage that remote working can give to both workers and the organisations themselves.

About the author

Ryan Gibson

Hey! I'm a 28 year old digital marketing guy residing in Leeds, England. My skill is in search marketing and I have gathered over 6 years experience of working on large multilingual campaigns for a number of FTSE 250 Organisations. After accepting a role with a business based in Singapore I began questioning traditional business practice and employee retention. This blog GenerationY.com was therefore born with focus on Y in the workplace. A millennial child at heart I aim to provide a voice for the 'misunderstood' generation and my goal is simply to change perception and corporate mind set on work/life attitudes; inspiring companies and individuals to seek change.

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