Meet Seán Young, Managing Director of LSY Engineering Consultants Ltd

Hi, I’m Seán.

Today, I want to welcome you to the brand new website for LSY Engineering Consultants Ltd. I want to tell you a little bit about myself and the company, as well as where I see us going and the challenges I’ve faced along the way. I want to offer up my advice to people who are thinking of setting up a new business and to talk about the people we want to work with and for.

And I also want to talk about football.

A little bit about me

I grew up in Ireland. I was educated there and began my career there in 2008, starting in Cork and eventually working all over the country. I was drawn to engineering because I was always good at technical drawing and construction at school. They were my two favourite subjects and so it seemed like the logical choice.

That was the backup plan. When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a professional footballer. In fact, I found an old exercise book from primary school where we were asked to list the things that we wanted to do when we grew up. I’d written:

  1. Become a professional footballer
  2. Run and own a number of businesses

So I’ve always had an interest in business, even from a young age. I was ten years old when I wrote in that exercise book, and I can’t remember even doing it. Now, 20 years later, I’m running my own engineering practice and I’m involved with a number of other businesses outside of engineering.

I love to work, and I put everything I have into every project that I’m involved with. But I still like to take time out at the weekends, where you can usually find me playing football or taking part in triathlons and the odd marathon or Ironman in the off-season.

What inspires me

I’m probably influenced by my dad, who was always wheeling and dealing. I was always ambitious, even from an early age, but I’m also a bit of a free spirit. I love meeting new people and learning about their cultures, and I’ve spent the last seven years working and travelling around the world. Leaving Ireland to go travelling was one of the best decisions I ever made, because it pushed me out of my comfort zone and opened up opportunities that you can only get from working abroad.

One of the big advantages is that you can progress much quicker. I had some unbelievable opportunities to work on landmark projects in Australia – such as Airport Link and London Arundel Great Court – and was given plenty of responsibilities. Better still, having worked both on site with contractors and within the role of a consultant, I’ve picked up a well-rounded appreciation of the technical, practical and commercial aspects of construction, all of which are key for a successful outcome.

Along the way, I took notes on what I liked about other companies, and I’m using those notes while running LSY. For example, at LSY we’re using the brilliant social aspects of the Aussies, the training culture in London, the different management systems, the 5-a-side teams, and the training programs that are there to help you to get chartered. I’ve always found that it’s the social aspects outside of work that build the best teams.

I read a lot, too. One favourite is Warren Buffet, who’s always talking about getting the fundamentals right. If you’re planning on investing in something, you need to get the fundamentals right, and I think that’s very important for anyone who’s looking to set up a business.

A lot of people dream about quitting work and never do it, but I didn’t want to be one of those people. Richard Branson said it best when he said that life isn’t a dress rehearsal.

Creating culture

I started LSY because I wanted to create a company with a culture that works not just for me but for everyone. I want to offer flexible conditions where people are given the opportunity to progress. I want to work a little bit like a football team – everyone will have responsibility and when you build a team of great players, they’ll always be there to help you out.

I want to work with people who take risks and embrace the challenge – people who want to work in a varied environment on all types of projects. When I started LSY, I was keen to get the correct systems in place to drive the company into the future. I’m thinking long-term, and that’s all about being consistent. We’ll do whatever it takes for our clients, even if that means being up at 1 AM dealing with designs and emails – which is the way it was at the start, when I was building the company up part-time.

The goal is to attract both clients and employees who have energy. I want to get good people that I can trust and give them the responsibility to progress. I need people who stay active at all times and who are always learning something new.

My advice for entrepreneurs

If you’re setting up your own business then you need to start with the right mindset. You need to be able to operate professionally without the security of money coming in, and you need to be able to stay sane while you’re doing it. Be brutally honest with yourself, and if there’s something that you’re not very good at then find people to help you out.

Better still, find a mentor. Speak to people who have been there and done what you want to do so that you can learn from them. I didn’t know much about SEO, IT or setting up emails, for example, so I’ve found some backup and taught myself as much as I can about the subjects.

You’ll also want to build your business up in the evenings so that you can keep your day job, at least to begin with. That means you can delay taking a salary from the business to allow it to grow enough for you to go full-time. The hours will be crazy at the start, so be prepared for that. Time management is also important because you spend a lot of time doing admin and stuff that doesn’t make money.

Luckily, if you’re the right sort of person then it won’t be a problem. Enjoy the process of setting up a business, and enjoy all the challenges that go with it. Surround yourself with people who have been there already and learn to delegate your weaknesses. At the same time, give your new venture a strong set of systems and processes so that you can scale up to cope with increased demand – the last thing you want is to be so successful that you’re unable to deal with the demand.

You also need to focus on what you’re doing and to have a clear vision from the start. You need to decide how you want your business to run, as well as what culture you want to create for the people that you’re working with – whether they’re clients, staff or suppliers. This will help to keep you sane during the ups and downs that every new business has to go through.

Finally, learn the basics of every aspect of your business – including IT, SEO, legalm accounting and insurance. You can still surround yourself with people who can offer accounting advice, marketing tips and legal insights, but they should be there to augment your own understanding. Remember that there may be hidden costs involved, so set aside some of your budget so it’s there when you need it.

The perks of running a company

A lot of it comes down to freedom – you’re in total control of your own destiny. But it’s more than that – there are the people you meet, the relationships you build with clients and the buzz that you get when your phone goes off and it’s a new client who’s looking to work with you on a project.

I also like meeting other business owners and learning from them, especially those in London. It’s a great place to do business and people are always willing to help you. Every day is different, and it’s exciting to build something from scratch and to watch as it comes to fruition.

Looking towards the future

LSY is going from strength to strength – we’re already growing and looking to add to our team. This time last year, I never would have thought that we’d have worked on projects in three different countries and partnered with a number of other companies from across Europe. We’ll be working on projects in a number of countries in the long-term, and I’d love for the company to get involved in Third World projects so that we can use our engineering backgrounds to help out in the places where it can make the biggest difference.

Ultimately, the location of the project doesn’t matter because we cater for everyone. It’s the personal approach that works, which is why we’re working with all sorts of clients – including small scale refurbishment projects, large scale residential projects and temporary work with everyone from architects to property investors, companies and even homeowners who need a survey on their new property.

We want to work with clients who like a challenge. Clients who don’t think of their job as ‘just a job’. Clients who’ll get us involved from the initial concept to the final handover.

We want to work with clients like you. Click here to get in touch with us.

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