Monday, 25 May 2020
LEON COX is the proprietor of the Hearing Clinic in Hart Street, Henley, and the Chalfont Hearing Centre in Buckinghamshire. He was born and raised in High Wycombe, where he currently lives with his partner Beth and their chihuahua Willey. He attended The Henley College and then Oxford Brookes University where he gained a degree in business studies. Five years later he gained a masters’ degree in audiological science from University College, London and then became a registered audiologist in 2007. A keen sportsman, he cycled solo from Los Angeles to New York in four weeks in 2012, raising £2,500 for Great Ormond Street Hospital. His passions are art, music and rum.
Describe your business
We are a hearing healthcare provider, catering for all. Hearing problems can affect the whole spectrum of the population. We offer hearing tests, ear wax removal and tinnitus management advice and we supply a range of hearing aids and hearing protection.
How many people does it employ?
Between the two clinics there are six of us, including my partner who is training to be an audiologist.
What did you do before you started this business?
When I was 17 I left home and came to Henley and lived in the YMCA for five years. While at college and university I had a series of jobs to pay my way. The housing manager at the YMCA, Claire Edmonds, suggested I talk to her father who worked for a hearing aid distributor. He offered me a job in sales and that was the first step in my journey to what I do now.
When did you start your business?
I bought the Chalfont clinic in 2013 and I took the lease on the shop in Hart Street in 2015. I had been trading at the Chiropractic Centre in West Street as I needed to build up my reputation and get some clients.
What was your objective?
I wanted to create something different in my own vision and I’ve exceeded my expectations.
Who or what influenced you?
When I took my sister to enrol at Henley College my old business teacher Clare Forgie encouraged me to return to education. That set me on the path to what I have achieved today.
Do you have a mentor or role model?
I have many but Simon Catlin, the father of a former girlfriend, gave me lots of valuable advice and encouragement when I was a bit of a young lost soul.
What would you do differently if you could start again?
I wouldn’t put myself at the centre of the business.
What impact is the coronavirus pandemic having?
I closed the clinics a week before the Government announced the lockdown in order to protect my clients, many of whom are quite senior and in the vulnerable category. I have no idea when we will be able to resume full service as our business relies on close contact. All we can do at the moment is send out supplies of batteries and replacement aids and do repairs and maintenance. My staff are still being paid and I’m grateful for the help being offered by the Government.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
Having Beth and my dog with me. Also the freedom to do things the way I want.
What’s the most challenging aspect?
Keeping up with the demand and trying to keep on top of all the technological advances.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Never take anything for granted or be complacent. Working from home with more time on my hands, I’ve discovered what the really important things in life are.
What would you advise someone starting a business?
Don’t be afraid. Nothing ever comes to people who don’t take risks.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Maybe expanding before having enough staff.
What three qualities are most important to success?
Willingness to take risks, transferable skills and never thinking of profit as your money — cash flow is king.
What’s the secret of your success?
Hard work, focus and always looking ahead.
How organised are you?
Very but I am supercharged with support from Beth and my receptionist and PA Alison.
How do you dress for work?
Smart and approachable.
What can’t you be without every day?
Willey. It’s not the same place without him and my clients love to see him.
Lunch at your desk or going out?
Sometimes it’s a whole day without lunch but when we get through this crisis I will make more effort to pace myself and go out for lunch.
Do you continue to study?
Yes. I do several days of courses of continuous professional development every year.
What do you read?
I’m not an avid reader. The last thing I read was Total Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is an inspiration.
How are you planning for retirement?
I would like to do a rum world tour.
18 May 2020
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