As our month-long celebration of kindness continues, we spoke to Edward Miles, who set up his eponymous removals company at the age of 22. He told us what challenges he faced as a young business owner, how he has incorporated a policy of kindness into his work, and how one particular incident with a team member gave him pause for thought.
What was the biggest challenge you encountered when you first set up your own company?
The biggest challenge was my age. I was only 22 when I set up Edward Miles Removals so I couldn’t get truck insurance (which is fairly crucial to a removals business) because I was under 25!
How would you describe your style of leadership?
I take every opportunity to be on the ground with my team, to do the running and lift the boxes. I think that you have to lead by example to build a strong team.
What qualities do you look for in your team members?
I want to see a commitment to honesty, integrity and trust.
What does good customer service mean to you?
Good customer service means having the knowledge and confidence to advise your clients and going as far as you possibly can to support them.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt since starting Edward Miles Removals?
That mistakes are as important as successes! I firmly believe that making mistakes is part of learning. What matters is how you resolve them and what you learn.
What advice would you give to others who are looking to start their own business?
You can do it. I started Edward Miles Removals having left education at 16, with no business backer, in a heavily saturated market.
Now we’re three years in and our turnover is increasing over 100% each year. I firmly believe that the only person standing in front of you is yourself. You can’t let anyone tell you that it’s not possible; if I had believed that, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in.
Is kindness really compatible with commerce?
In our line of business, which involves moving people out of often much-loved homes into new and unfamiliar situations, we need to be sensitive. I wouldn’t expect anything less of myself and my team than to be empathetic and kind.
However, there is one moment that stands out and made me particularly proud of a team member.
I was on the way to see my team, who were working in a penthouse on Chelsea Embankment, when I happened to see one of my guys painfully hopping along in a foot brace – he had broken his foot the day before playing football so he really shouldn’t have been working, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
At the bottom of the building we were working, he bent down to give his lunch to a homeless man. Witnessing this moment was incredibly humbling. Quite honestly, I think I would have run past this man without a thought because I was too ‘busy’. This act of kindness puts into perspective the things that really matter and was a reminder that being kind is the one power we all have.