Ketan Dattani is the Founding Owner of Buckingham Futures and took some time out to talk with The Industry Leaders and provide some golden rules for business owners in 2023.
What's your industry?
Environmental Health Recruitment
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
As with many people in the Environmental field, my career path has stemmed from my deeply rooted love for nature and unbridled interest in understanding natural ecosystems.
As far back as I can remember, I loved animals, plants, and trees — really anything that was outdoors and wild.
Simply put, I was fascinated by the natural world. Having failed in the school system it was my avid interest in Environmental matters that led me back to education and to my academic choices of undertaking a Bachchelors degree in Environmental Biology and a Masters's degree in Environmental Planning and Management.
I set up Buckingham Futures in 2013, a specialist Consultancy supplying Environmental Health personnel across the Private and Public sectors on a nationwide basis as I identified an opportunity to aid Environmental Health professionals to fill the gap in the employment sector caused by significant challenges to the global economy caused population growth, increasing demand for natural resources, soaring costs of energy and escalating impacts of climate change.
My philosophy is one whereby Environmental factors are drivers of my business success. This means that we always go the extra mile to understand the business objectives and operating environments of our clients.
What does an average day look like for you?
For me there is no such thing as an an average day, but my daily role involves overseeing all operations and business activities to ensure they produce the desired results that are consistent with our overall strategy and mission, making high-quality investing decisions to advance the business and increase profits, building excellent relations with key partners and stakeholders and acting as a point of contact for important shareholders whilst maintaining a deep knowledge of the Environmental Health sector.
How do you balance the needs of your business with the needs of your personal life?
Balancing the demands of running a business with my personal life can sometimes be challenging, but it's essential for maintaining my overall well-being and the success of Buckingham Futures. To achieve this balance, prioritise time with my family and delegate tasks as necessary.
I set boundaries between work and personal time, and practice self-care to reduce stress.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
Learning is a lifelong process. As the saying goes, you learn something new everyday. Whether I'm in a parliamentary meeting, at a networking event, or speaking to one of my 4 children - I always believe in absorbing as much information as possible.
Best advice I received on my journey in business was 'success is a journey - not a destination'
South Asians in particular attach too much of a stigma to failing. I've learned that failure is part and parcel of the journey. It’s the only way you learn and it makes you stronger.
Every successful person I know has suffered their fair share of setbacks along the way. All of them will tell you how important those setbacks were in helping them become successful. Rather than letting it deter you - pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes and go at it again.
What's been the hardest part about the path you've taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?
The hardest part about the path I've taken was my leaving my corporate recruitment career in 2013 and starting my own business, Buckingham Futures.
It was undoubtedly the biggest career risk I ever took was to quit a very well-paid corporate career to set up a self-funded Environmental Health Recruitment Business from scratch from my parent’s box room with no prior business experience.
The best advise for someone facing a similar situation would be to be deliberate about the people you associate with and listen to. Whenever you step out from the norm you will attract naysayers. Some of them may even be people who are close to you, but you can’t let that stop you from going after what you value.
Instead surround yourself with people who are going after their dreams, overcoming their fears, and developing their talents, and you will do the same.
Are there any well-known Books, Podcasts, or Courses that you credit your current success to?
I am an avid reader and I have read so many extraordinary books. However, one particular book that has particularly resonated with me is ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad — What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money — That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not!’ by Robert T. Kiyosaki.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad is one of the few books that I recurrently read. It has taught me the art of storytelling and persuasion and how Robert turned a simple idea, into a multi-million-dollar information product empire.
In the book he presents a persuasive narrative, that is very simple to grasp and tremendously relatable.
The way Robert simplifies multifaceted topics and makes them applicable to ordinary people is highly convincing and influential.
The biggest takeaways for me from the book are that the single most powerful asset we all have is our mind. If it is trained well, it can create enormous wealth and most people never win because they’re afraid of losing or failing.
What do you think are the most important qualities for a successful business owner or executive to have?
I think that the 5 most important qualities for a successful business owner to have are:
1: Make genuine connections
It is not about the number of connections you make, but rather the quality of those connections and treating everyone as if they are the only other person in the room.
2: Stay humble
Remain humble, even in the face of unparalleled success.Use your position as an opportunity to serve and never assume your position makes you better than the next man.
3: Maintain a positive attitude
A positive attitude has the potential to elevate the level of those you work with. It is also the easiest way to navigate undeniably negative situations.
4: Place emphasis on integrity
Let your actions speak for themselves, and take pride in exercising integrity, no matter how small or big the task. Anything less is unacceptable.
5: Learn to read people
Conversations have as much to do with verbal communication as they do with non-verbal.
What someone says may not necessarily be what they mean, and unspoken communication is often more important than that of the spoken word. Learn to read facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice in order to get what’s really going on.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out as a business owner?
I would advice someone who is just starting out as a business owner to attend networking events within your sector and seek out online support via forums. You’ll be surprised just how willing others will be to help and offer advice. There will always be someone a little further down the path than you.
What are the top three things you think are essential for business success?
The top 3 things that are essential for business success are:
Research - research is necessary to meet the changing needs of customers, stakeholders' demand, and also competition.
Planning - without planning ahead, you are already setting yourself up to fail. No successful business will thrive long term without that all-important strategy and vision.
Embracing technology - failing to engage with technology will hold your business back, meaning your competitors enter a league of their own whilst you trail behind. L22
Do you think someone can be a great business owner without having many years of experience first?
Some experience is a practical necessity to lead a business, even if it doesn't come from previous entrepreneurial endeavors.
When I launched Buckingham Futures in 2013 with no prior business experience, I found myself constantly trying to adapt to receive validation. It was draining and counter-productive since very few people knew me — the real Ketan — which is a prerequisite to liking me.
I’ve learnt that the higher you rise, the more attention you’ll receive, both positive and negative and that a willingness to be disliked certainly helps you deal with the added scrutiny.
In general, do you think the world is producing better business owners in 2023 than it was fifty years ago?
Fifty years ago, communities were very much more localised, with businesses serving only the local population. Modern business owners may have more competition but they also have greater opportunities in a global marketplace and increased opportunities for entrepreneurship.