Growing up, all I wanted to do was to be on the radio. Playing music I loved and interacting with an audience. I wasn’t sure (or, at least my Mum and Dad weren’t sure) if that could ever be a career, so since I was always interested in the media and current affairs, I studied journalism, and began working in radio station newsrooms and sports departments.
I loved it, and by the time I was 30, I had achieved many of my ambitions – having hosted radio shows at some of the biggest stations in the country, working across a mixture of music and speech and covering some of the biggest news stories at the time.
But at the back of my mind was a new, burning ambition – to grow my own business.
I’d always been interested in business. In my early teens, I was fascinated by shows like ‘Trouble At The Top’ and ‘Troubleshooter’ with Sir John Harvey Jones. I just wasn’t sure it was something I could ever do.
The first radio programme I had of my own, at Real Radio, included ‘The Real Business Hour’, where every Sunday morning I interviewed a leading business figure. I had complete control over who I invited onto the programme and what I asked them. Over the next 2 years I conducted in-depth face to face conversations with Michelle Mone, Sir Tom Farmer, Anita Roddick, Charan Gill and many others. I was fascinated by their stories; their lives and work, the highs and lows, and what made them tick.
I also got to interview people from the world of politics, like Robin Cook and controversial figures such as Nick Leeson. It was a tremendous education and it left me excited and even more motivated to start my own business.
I got the chance in 2011, while working on a radio show at BBC Scotland and doing some television work on a show called ‘The Hour’ at STV. These were freelance roles and during this time I began to create plans for what would become my own corporate training and consultancy business.
‘Colin Kelly Media’ launched in 2012 with a focus on media relations training (helping business owners work with the media and give engaging interviews) and social media training which was a huge growth area and something lots of businesses wanted to know about.
This co-incided with my wife Emma and I starting (and then quickly expanding!) a family. So the first few years were extremely tough! A new business and two young children is a real stress!
But we got through those challenging few years (I even took on extra work running a weekly pub quiz at one point!!) and today, our business ‘Comsteria‘ (which now includes Emma working full-time delivering smartphone video training and corporate video production), operates across the UK working with dozens of clients from sole trader new-starts to large multi nationals and public sector organisations.
Looking back, I’ve come to realise that business was always in my blood. At 11, I was running a car washing business around my street and typing out invoices on my Mum’s word processor. It didn’t feel like a business but it was. I provided a service. I got paid, and I learned lessons.
At 15, I started a mobile disco business with my brother. To me, at the time, it was simply a way to play music, for an audience, while I was trying to get good enough to get a job on the radio. But again, I provided a service, I got paid, I learned lessons. The mobile disco business was more sophisticated than the car washing because we had to do marketing, had to manage our calendar and needed to maintain good business relationships (my Dad) to secure transportation to the venues. (Until I was able to drive, at least!)
The background I’ve had, the people I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with and learn from, and the work I do with Comsteria has given me an amazing insight into how business works. I’ve seen what goes on at the top of some of the biggest organisations in the country. But I also work closely with sole traders and start-ups and understand the challenges they face. I’ve also faced personal challenges myself – business would be much easier if it was all we had to do…but doing it AND raising a family, having healthy relationships, dealing with life and all its ups and downs…that’s a whole different ball game! And it’s one I’m still playing, and still loving.
Now, on this site, I’m bringing everything I’ve learned together, to help you grow your business and love your life.
Thanks for visiting and I hope I can play some part in your success.