I’m back with another exciting Behind the Biz interview today. If you’re new to Prettygreentea, Behind the Biz is my weekly interview series where I discover small and growing businesses, the people behind them and their business journey.
Today I’m delighted to be chatting with Taimur, the co-founder of Top Notch Sales & Marketing.
Please tell us about your business.
We began our journey in January 2016 with the aim to be a ‘Top Notch’ field sales and marketing agency in the UK. (excuse the pun lol).
We are a wholesale & independent channel specialist agency (C&I) because we have 86 years of experience combined within our team. We decided to stick to what we know and are good at!
In simple words Top Notch Sales & Marketing Ltd is an external salesforce that works with FMCG brands to help them grow and retain Distribution, Availability & Visibility of their products.
Our services include:
Van Selling – Directly selling into the clients’ customer base. This consists of independent retailers, symbol groups, gyms, cafes, bars and so on.
Instore Representation – Whether it’s a wholesaler (Bestway, Dhamecha, Blakemore etc) or an independent retailer, our salesforce will do everything in our control to ensure all measures to increase Rate-of-Sale for our client’s products are present. This includes, fixture discipline, EPOS data analysis, secondary sightings, and building key relationships between brand and store managers.
Get Listed – Using our years of relationships with all major local and national wholesalers in the UK, we present brands to buyers with the aim of getting listings.
Seasonal Campaigns – FSDU/Shipper implementation, Transfer orders, Merchandising, Audits and Pre-Sell
Event Day Coverage – Representing our clients in a fun, engaging and professional manner on the days that matter.
Where did the inspiration for Top Notch Sales come from?
The dream of running our own business. By ‘our’ I mean myself and my younger brother Zaheer Abbas who has played an instrumental role in setting up and running the company. We both are entrepreneurial souls and it was just a matter of time before we had our own company.
How did you decide upon the name of your brand?
I wanted a name which was not too corporate yet not too cheesy; something in the middle that would stand out and be easy to remember. I also wanted it to mean something that would represent the company. According to the Oxford dictionary Top Notch means; ‘the highest quality or excellent’, and that is exactly the standard we aim to provide for our clients.
What did you do before starting Top Notch Sales?
I have worked in the FMCG industry all my career with some of the biggest companies. I was a sales rep for the leading ketchup and beans brand in the country, and then moved into a head office role for the second largest crisp & snacks brand in the UK. There I was part of the team managing Booker wholesale. Therefore it was a natural move to combine the two together and open up a field sales & marketing agency.
Did you always plan to be self-employed?
YES! I always knew that one day I will start my own business. Since childhood I have always had a strong business acumen.
When I was 10, after returning from my schools summer fair where they played tombola, I decided to hold my own raffle for all the toys I did not play with. I still remember it was 10p per raffle ticket. I knocked on all the doors on our street and got people to attend. I made about £5, got rid of all my unwanted toys and went on a shopping spree with my brother (by that I mean the local sweet shop lol)
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
Having a corporate background instilled a lot confidence in me along with business ethics, professionalism, and correct approaches on how to grow a multi-million account. However, it’s a completely different ball game when it’s your own company. The single biggest challenge for me has been learning the legal side of things; such as Corporation tax, VAT returns, Payroll etc. It’s definitely more challenging than one would expect. But after hours of reading online and meeting with accountants and tax advisors I now am very confident and have in-depth knowledge on these matters.
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
To be honest, the whole year has been a highlight. However, signing my first big contract with my first client has been the greatest highlight. We have been working together since 2016 and have achieved great success so far with great growth plans for 2017!
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
Social media and technology are the greatest tool available to an entrepreneur. We are lucky to be living in this advanced technological age where everything is available on our fingertips. You just have to be smart and utilise it to your advantage.
LinkedIn is my favourite site because it allows me to directly connect and network with key individuals in the industry.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I don’t think I am at a stage yet as a business to give advice to anyone. However, I will share my approach and thought process.
Vision – It is vital that you have a goal in mind, something you want to achieve. Something that you look forward to waking up in the morning for. Once you have a vision you will automatically obtain the ingredients to achieve it – Determination, Perseverance and ability to deal with challenges.
Where do you hope to take your business in the year ahead?
We opened this company with the intention and aim of making it one of the most recognised field sales and marketing agency in the country. And we work towards this every day. The plan is simple, Grow Grow Grow through exceeding our clients expectations.
You can find out more about Taimur’s business over on his site.
Thank you so much to Taimur for taking the time to be a part of Behind the Biz. I really enjoyed hearing about his business journey and I wish him the best of luck for 2017. I totally agree with Taimur’s advice for entrepreneurs. Having a clear vision is so important, if not, how do you know what you’re working towards.