Wednesday, 06 July 2022
RYAN IRVING is director of Riweb, a Henley digital agency. He was born in Henley 37 years ago and studied web development at the University of Teesside in Middlesbrough (so he could be closer to his beloved Newcastle United). Ryan is engaged to Heather Tull, who is Riweb’s head of client services. His hobbies are boxing, football and running.
Describe your business
Riweb is an ethical digital agency focused on creating and nurturing bespoke websites that deliver tangible business results.
How many people does it employ?
Three full-time employees and six associates who support us on a project basis.
What did you do before you started this business?
Some random stuff. I’ve picked watermelons in Australia, sold dry cleaning chemicals in Reading and taught English in India. Just prior to starting Riweb I was working as a legal assistant.
When did you start your business?
Officially, in January 2013 but I was freelancing before that.
What was your objective?
Friends in bands/sport etc would ask me for a website which I would usually do in exchange for a pint. Before long, people I didn’t know were asking too and I was enjoying helping small local businesses so I quit my legal career and started Riweb.
Who or what influenced you?
Many of my friends were starting or already running their own businesses which made me think I could do the same.
Do you have a mentor or role model?
Not specifically but I love to learn and take inspiration from so many people, including my team and friends.
What would you do differently if you could start again?
Nothing. I love the business and we’re here because of all of the failures along the way that taught us things and improved us.
What impact has the coronavirus pandemic had on your business?
It affected our plans for growth but many others have suffered more than us so we’re not complaining.
How is your business doing compared with last year?
We’re on target for 30 per cent growth.
Do you compare on a regular basis?
I am a numbers person so I believe the answers to most business questions can be found in the data, which means, yes, I compare all the time.
How do you market your business?
Ninety-four per cent of our new business comes via a referral, mostly from our existing clients, and we have a 96 per cent client retention rate (I told you I liked data).
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
I’ve got the most satisfaction from helping our team to grow. We’ve had many youngsters join us as apprentices, interns or on work experience who have gone on to have successful careers, which is awesome.
What’s the most challenging aspect?
All of it. Starting and growing a business is extremely challenging but this is also what makes it rewarding and fun.
Where is your business headed?
Riweb is going to be nationally recognised for delivering “green” websites for ambitious businesses that do good things.
How important are online sales?
While we don’t “sell” online as such, the majority of our leads come through our website.
Do you have a five-year plan?
We do and it changes every year.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Surround yourself with brilliant people. When starting out, hiring is hard but by getting in great people, it accelerates your growth.
What would you advise someone starting a business?
Do it. It’s a rollercoaster ride — some days you’ll want to quit but the ups are worth it.
What three qualities are most important to success?
Perseverance, dedication and enthusiasm.
What’s the secret of your success?
Looking after our clients. We still have some of my first clients from when I was working out of my
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Spreading myself too thinly. I’m forever coming up with new ideas and concepts and at one point was running two start-ups. That was never going to work.
How organised are you?
How do you dress for work?
I’d describe my style as smart-informal. You’re unlikely to find me in a suit but even though I work from home, I like to dress well.
What can’t you be without every day?
Coffee and Twitter.
Lunch at your desk or going out?
I’m not great at getting away from my desk, even for lunch.
Do you continue to study?
Absolutely. I love to learn and believe if you’re not developing yourself, you’re falling behind those that are.
What do you read?
Usually a business book relating to any current challenges I’m facing.
How are you planning for retirement?
I’m tucking away into a pension but beyond that I don’t think about it.
21 March 2022
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