BUSINESS owners have been urged to “follow your dreams” to achieve success in 2013.
The advice comes from businessman Tony Abbott, whose Elland-based direct marketing company, Reactiv, went from strength to strength during 2012.
And he’s well-placed to dispense the advice.
Tony had a dream to set up his own company, despite moving from London to Yorkshire with just £300 in his pocket in 1994.
He didn’t let lack of funds hold him back and now he has a business that turns over more than £6m a year.
Last year was the most successful to date. Despite the recession, Reactiv’s turnover went up by 36% while the company recruited 50 new staff and opened a £250,000 call centre.
Tony was also named Britain’s Best Boss and won several awards. He even managed to set up his own charity, Heartbeat of Sport, which gained him widespread media attention.
Tony says the secret to his success was aiming high, always having a goal to aspire to – and having a positive attitude.
“I’ve lived my life following my dreams and it’s never let me down,” he says. “I’ve always had a list of around 10 dreams which take into account my business, my family, my health and my sporting hobbies.
“One of them is to build something to be proud of and that’s Reactiv. We have come through tough times, but have got there in the end. It’s been hard work but well worth it.”
The 41-year-old father of two set up Reactiv five years ago with just 12 staff at its headquarters in Gas Works Lane. The company now employs 250 staff at its headquarters and a nearby call centre. Tony has plans to take on another 50 staff early this year.
His ambition is to make Reactiv a market leader in direct marketing – and it is already on its way to achieving that goal.
Reactiv has released more apps for the iStore than any other UK developer and a new direct marketing tool called Activ Responders is to be launched onto the market this year.
It will be the first of its kind in the country and will provide firms with the most up-to-date data available.
Tony believes in sharing his success with his colleagues and the local community.Š
Last year, he decided to give something back and agreed to put a six-figure sum into Halifax Rugby League Football Club’s coffers for this season.
He joined the club two years ago and is now a director. The deal is thought to be the biggest in the Co-operative Championship.
He was named Britain’s Best Boss last year after inviting his staff to their annual summer conference and surprising 26 of them by making their dreams come true.
Before the event they filled out a “wish list” thinking it was a team-building exercise. Tony asked a panel of workers to help him decide which wishes to grant. He spent more than £20,000 of his own money on gifts for staff.
Along with requests for helicopter lessons, UGG boots, a 3D TV, a diamond ring and driving fast cars around a track, was a plea from Adele Green, whose eldest son, Joe, 12, has an incurable heart condition. She and her husband, Matthew, dreamed of taking Joe and their four other children to Disney World in Florida while he was still healthy enough, and last summer they had their trip-of-a-lifetime holiday. Joe has a congenital heart defect and diabetes and gets tired and short of breath. He has already had life-saving surgery and faces more in the future.
Tony, a big sports fan, then set up Heartbeat of Sport – prompted by a near-tragedy on the football field.
Tony had made the 500-mile round trip to watch his beloved football team, Tottenham Hotspur play Bolton at White Heart Lane – and witnessed Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapse on the pitch.
The 24-year-old former footballer suffered a cardiac arrest and claims he owes his life to the quick actions of the medical team. Doctors said he was “in effect’” dead for 78 minutes. He was given 15 defibrillator shocks before his heart started beating again.
Tony wanted to turn the tragedy into something positive and set up the charity to raise the profile of the life-threatening condition Sudden Cardiac Arrest, which claims the lives of 250 people a day in the UK.
Heartbeat of Sport’s goal is to educate and empower people to act during an emergency.
It plans to work closely with both amateur and professional sports clubs and sporting organisations at a local level and then, in time, nationally.
Not surprisingly, Tony’s sterling efforts have received recognition.
He picked up two awards at the end of last year for Employer of the Year and Business Person of the Year at a local business awards.
He says the awards were the culmination of an exciting and rewarding year and that he was overwhelmed to have been recognised.
But rather than rest on his laurels, he’s going all out to make 2013 even more amazing than 2012, and – of course – his dreams come into it.
They include Halifax RLFC winning Super League, Tottenham winning the league, spreading the word and raising money for Heartbeat of Sport and – of course – making Reactiv even more successful than it is today.
“Watch this space”, says Tony.