He’s made a splash as a lifeguard at a swimming pool, led workouts as a fitness instructor and served drinks behind the bar at a bustling Huddersfield town nightspot.
But James Boothroyd really found his niche working with computers and is now helping other companies make a good first impression as director of his own business, Media29 (Creative) Ltd.
The business, which James runs from his home at Outlane, specialises in building websites and designing and printing items such as flyers, leaflets, banners and posters for firms in sectors including construction, hospitality, health and beauty and retailing.
The former Almondbury High School student, who grew up in Waterloo, admits he’s taken a roundabout route to self-employment, but he says: “I enjoy what I’m doing.”
He says: “I never went to university – I didn’t want the debt! I went to Huddersfield New College to do media studies because I’d always had a passion for film and photography.
“I’ve had a few odd careers. When you’re 18 you don’t know what you want to do in life.
“When I left school, I wanted to be a police officer and I had an application form for being a PCSO at 16, but I did some work experience with the police and it wasn’t for me. I didn’t have the life experience.”
Before that, he was “the longest-serving paper boy” to work for Handy’s stores at Almondbury. “I started when I was 12 and I left at the end of my last year in school,” he recalls.
James later worked as a trainee lifeguard at Total Fitness in Waterloo and as a fitness instructor, but says: “I was working daft hours – early starts or late finishes.”
James moved on to work at the Rock Cafe in Huddersfield and Casa at Brighouse – where he quickly lost his six-pack physique.
While James has never lacked the willingness to work, long hours in the bar were followed by long evenings slumped on the sofa!
“Straight from college I realised I needed to get a job,” he says. My dad was charging me board! He has always had a good work ethic and that rubbed off on me.”
His breakthrough came when James was hired to help out in an IT firm.
“I was taken on as part-time help and gradually progressed to working five days a week,” he says.
“I was given more and more responsibility. I learned the basics of how to build a website and I was taught the fundamentals of that. After a few months, I announced that I was going to do this for myself.”
There was an amicable parting – and James started his own business, The Little IT Shop in Huddersfield Road, Halifax.
“I was doing computer repairs, building websites and providing printing services,” he says. “But it didn’t pan out as I had hoped. People don’t get computers repaired, they buy new ones.”
James closed the shop after six months and was invited to work for a print firm.
During the following two years, he learned everything there was to know about the printing industry.
“I registered as self-employed in 2010 when I was working at the IT shop.” he says.
“The time from then up to 2014 was spent building a client base. I worked in Hebden Bridge until July last year and it is now 12 months since I have been working on my own.
“I registered Media29 (Creative) Ltd as a limited company in July this year. working from home.
“I have a desk in the living room, but I do a lot of mileage travelling to see clients.”
Most of his customers are independent businesses based in West Yorkshire.
The furthest away is a holiday cottages letting business run by a retired couple in Bridlington, for whom James looks after the website.
Services provided include websites, graphic design, printing and photography. James prides himself on being able to offer “everything a start-up company requires”.
He says: “They need a logo designed and they need to put their logo on business cards, leaflets and their website. They also need photographs of their premises.”
Despite being in a highly competitive industry, James has found most of his clients come from recommendations and finds clients are happy to use his all-embracing service rather than go to different suppliers for different things.
Says James: “July was the month I celebrated 12 months in business – and it was also my busiest month.
“A lot of people have come to realise that without a website, their business is going to struggle. One company had a very poor website when they first engaged me. I created a new one and now it is on page one of Google.”
Working from home has its advantages, but James says: “I have a strict rule. I never put the television on when I’m working. I tend to be up at 8am, go downstairs and put the kettle on and feed the dog and cat before checking my emails.”
James and his fiancée Zoe have a lively 11-month old cocker spaniel called Molly and a two-year-old cat called Bella – who just a few weeks ago presented the couple with a litter of four kittens. All the new arrivals are going to good homes.
Screen breaks mean taking Molly for walks in the countryside. “There are lots of great places to go walking” says James.
Sometimes, James will find himself working until 11 o’clock at night, although he tries not to make a habit of it. He says: “I try to finish by 7pm because if I’m staring at a screen until 11pm I can’t sleep afterwards.”
James and Zoe, who works on reception at the Pennine Manor, Scapegoat Hill, enjoy meals out – with the New Inn at Outlane and Primo beneath the viaduct in Huddersfield town centre among their favourite destinations.
And James has never regretted the move to self-employment.
He says: “When you work for someone else, you know you will be working 9 to 5 and you will probably have to do some overtime, but you also know you will get paid at the end of the month. If I don’t work hard enough, it’s my own fault. It’s the flexibility I enjoy.”
Family: Fiancee Zoe
Holidays: We will be going to Flamborough Head for a few nights this summer, but next year we’re holidaying on the Costa del Sol
Car: Citroen DS3
First job: I started doing a paper round when I was 12. I think I became the longest-serving paperboy because I only left in my last year at school!
Best thing about the job? I enjoy what I’m doing. I enjoy the flexibility
Worst thing about the job? Working from home is good from a financial point of view, but there isn’t the interaction you get working in an office
Business tip: You need a bit of money in your pocket to launch a business. Get your head down and work – and make sure you have plenty of contacts.
Work: Affordable web design and development
Phone: 01484 502202