The three avenues to a successful business


The correct skills and tools for the job at hand alongside the use of social media are important factors when you run your own business. We sat down with Oliver Cropper, a 29 year old decorator, to discuss the importance he places on these factors.

I’ve been choosing the jobs I work on for five years but before I started out on my own, I trained at York college and served an apprenticeship with a company in York. This was where I got my grounding as I learnt a wide range of skills from 30-40 different decorators during my time there and to be honest, I might have taken some tricks of the trade from them. However, since I went out on my own, I feel like I have learnt more, while also developing a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the trade as a whole as well as developing my skills on each job, which has made my work tighter. In addition, being my own boss has given me the opportunity to take a deep dive into learning about new products, materials and tools, which has then led me to collate a list of courses I want to take and tools I want to invest in to ensure I am on top of my game and have future proofed my business.

When it comes to social media, I started using Instagram as a platform for my online portfolio and as an outlet for self-promotion to an engaged audience that are interested in the work I do. However, I then added research into the mix and it led to me coming across Mirka’s products and off the back of that I then started following peers within the industry that had Mirka’s tools. This allowed me to access unbiased opinions on the tools and abrasives that were relevant to the jobs I was completing. Their posts showed me nothing but good reviews in terms of performance and from a health perspective due to it enabling them to have a dust-free work environment. For me, being dust free was just as crucial as how the tools performed because I am very conscious of my health and that of my customers due to understanding the issues that come with airborne dust particles.

Since I have taken all the information on board, I have not looked back. I took the plunge and have invested around £2,000 so far in Mirka’s tools and abrasives. To some that may seem like a significant sum but for me it is part of my long-term investment strategy to have access to tools like the DEOS and LEROS, which I own, that complement each other. These tools have allowed me to feel like I can go the extra mile for my customers with less effort and no mess (a win for both myself and the customer) and I feel that they give me the edge over other decorators on certain jobs. The reason I know this is because there was a job on an oak orangery that had all the stain broken down and had water damage. Due to the tools I had at my disposal, I was the only decorator on site that had the equipment to tackle the job and when I started my DEOS didn’t take long to strip it back, while keeping the surface clean. From there, I slowly brought the oak back to life by working my way through the grits to create a smooth, unscratched finish. Then three coats of stain later, the transformation was complete and the client couldn’t wait to see the finish and was very impressed with the outcome. This then led to additional jobs that included painting the internal side of the orangery and a number of oak worktops that needed to be stripped and oiled. However, the crowning moment for me was not the praise and additional jobs from the client but the fact that I had the other two decorators coming to me and asking questions about my tools as they had seen the end result and wanted to find out more.