Welcome to ‘Interview with an entrepreneur’, a new series where we talk to entrepreneurs and industrialists and delve into their business mind. Today we interview Mark Dixon who is the Cheif Executive Officer of Regus Plc, the world’s largest operater of serviced office space. Regus operates multinationally and is part of the FTSE 250.

Mark Dixon

Mark Dixon, CEO of Regus PLC

You left school at the age of 16, what drove you to do that?
Business has always fascinated me. Although I’d achieved very good results, I was determined to get straight into the practicalities of running a business rather than continuing along the academic route.

What does your average workday consist of?
It starts early – I go into the office at 6am, check my emails and deal with anything urgent. If I’m working from home, I’ll have a swim and breakfast later on in the morning. Days vary, but I’m guaranteed to spend a lot of time on the phone – whether its conference calls or discussions about strategy. The other half is spent on the road, travelling to the 100 countries we operate in and taking part in business and strategy reviews but also speaking to our customers and the Regus people who meet them every day. My day normally ends around 7pm.

How will you deal with increasing competition in your industry?
Every industry faces this challenge. We deal with it by continually adapting and innovating our services and processes to outpace anything that our competitors come up with.  There are some good operators worldwide who create great concepts – just as they may be inspired by some of the things we do, we can also learn from them.  Increased competition keeps you focused on the customer and running the business as well as possible.

Do you believe your target market has changed?
It has definitely changed. Technology has changed the way people work and our market has followed. The working population is more mobile than it’s ever been and flexible ways of working are increasingly sought after as the benefits of cost reductions and more efficient processes become clearer to companies.  We support every kind of business in making the most of new ways of working – from people working from home through to small companies and global multinationals.

Did you grow up in an entrepreneurial environment?
No. My father was an engineer and my mother a housewife, but I was always interested in business and would scour the newspapers for insight into entrepreneurial achievement.

How do you see your industry developing in the next 3-5 years?
The ways in which people work and how they seek support in terms of where they work will drive developments in our industry that is the provision of flexible work places.    For many years we were considered outside the property industry, providing what was seen as a fringe service, but that’s already changing and in five years from now I expect us to become a central and important part of the way property is provided to individuals or companies to support them in running their businesses.

What three pieces of advice would you give to a young entrepreneur starting out today?
Go for it!  It is important to take a decisive initial step.  Sometimes people spend far too much time thinking about what to do than doing it.

Don’t create work, build a business. This requires constant medium and long-term planning.  Try not to get sucked into the daily demands of business. Stop, stand back and take a long hard look at what you are doing and where you are going.

Get some great people around, both directly within your team and advisers once you start to grow your business. External advice is crucial, whether you pay for it (accountant, lawyers and so on) or it’s free (through government schemes for example). Be willing to listen and learn from people with more wisdom and experience than you have. Successful entrepreneurs are generally more than willing to provide advice on aspects of setting up and running an entrepreneurial business.