In 2014 I'd been doing gardening work for about a year, and had thought about starting a van business to keep me going through the winter when gardening work tends to go quiet. So as an experiment while I was still doing gardening work, I did few van bookings by renting a van by the hour from what was then City Car Club. Doing it this way wasn't going to make it a viable business but it was a good way to see how it would work, and see how I felt about doing this kind of work. After a while I found out that an aquaintance was a member of a small group of people that shared the use of a van and that they had space for someone to join. So I joined this and started doing van work more regularly.
After a few months of using the shared van, I had a booking going from Bath to London. Unfortunately the van, which was quite old, lost it's exhaust pipe on the outskirts of Bath. Not Van OD's finest moment! I was able to get the van and the customer to Bath train station so she could get the train to London to meet her mother who was already on her way to London. So I waited outside Bath station for the recovery truck to arrive and get the van back to its home in Bristol.
While I was waiting for the recovery truck, I rang my friend who I'd arranged to visit while I was in London just to let him know what was happening. To my surprise he said "Well you know my friend Joel's got a van that he doesn't really use anymore?". So I spoke to Joel, who lives in London but was happy for me to borrow his van. At this point my priority was doing whatever I could to get my customer's belongings to her address in London as quickly as possible. So later that day I got the coach to London, and the following morning I drove Joel's van to Bristol, loaded it up from the other van and drove back to London to drop off at my customer's new address.
While I was having a drink with Joel that night he mentioned that he was thinking about selling the van and asked me if I was interested. At that point I didn't have any money to buy a van but he told me that was ok because he didn't really need the money at the moment and I could just pay it off as and when I was able to. What a lovely human.
So off the back of what felt like a disaster, I now had a van that I wouldn't have been able to get otherwise to properly start a business. Eight years on, in contrast to these chaotic beginnings, I have built up a business that continues to grow and has a reputation for reliability and professionalism. But after all, you've got to start somewhere.