What I Learned by Starting My Business on the Isle of Man The tiny U.K. island is not exactly a global business hub.

By Simon Powell

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You won't be the only person to have an idea for a game changing business, but you might be the first one brave enough to make it real. You can carry on doing research forever, but you will never know how the market will react until you go live. That's a lesson I learned from Eric Ries's book The Lean Start Up -- test the product with consumers as soon as you can.

Related: How Being on the Fringes of Europe Gives Our Company a Global Edge

Similarly, the longer you procrastinate, the greater the chance that someone else will realize your dream. When I received this advice, I sold my car and officially launched TransferTravel.com in 2016.

I fell in love with the Isle of Man, off the northwest coast of England, nine years ago, and I love living here, as it's a great place to live -- it is classed as its own country in the British islands, and has its own parliament and VAT agreements. I won't be moving.

However, it's not everyone's idea of a "global hub." There are a few challenges to running a business from a small island.


Recruiting quality staff and raising funds in an island that has just 80,000 people has been hard, but the key to great people is passion, and that is the culture we have engendered at TransferTravel.com.

This company has been set up to solve an issue I had, and most people can relate to having this problem at some point. We are not a call center; we are not a machine. I look for people who believe in the business and who can bring that little bit more to the office morale. I never look at a CV in an interview. I ask real questions, about what drives job candidates and what makes them happy. Any skill can be learned, but having that fire is up to them! We now have a great team of people with a passion for what we do.

I would always recommend that when you are hiring you write easy to read, concise job descriptions. This increases the number of applicants. My recruitment agent tells me that anything under 500 words increases application numbers by 12 percent.

Related: Forget London -- These 4 U.K. Tech Hubs Are Booming

Travel costs

The Isle of Man is actually well-placed in terms of getting to London, but running a global startup is expensive when it comes to traveling. But, that is the nature of the business, and would be the same wherever I was.

I always recommend using a great travel agent you trust, as their expertise, customer service and exhaustive searches across traditional and shared economy sites can save you big money and a chunk of time.


Launching a startup and putting all my efforts into SEO, article and blog writing gave us a global user base within six months and a diverse European customer base, too. So, we have had to implement various languages on the site to allow easier access for customers. Despite our global positioning, I think if we had launched in the U.S. and not reached out further, we may not have needed the multilingual sites.

If you are asking yourself whether your idea is worth it and whether there's a reason that no one else is providing your product -- then do the research and find out whether there is a market for your product. I did, and I found out that there was.

There is no substitute for hard work, thoroughness and attention to detail. Know your market and your audience and personalize your content for them.

Within three months of launching TransferTravel.com in 2016 demand had outstripped the functionality of the site. Today, TransferTravel.com has over 150,000 registered users and we plan to grow this to 1 million by the end of the year. But, it all started on the Isle of Man.

Simon Powell

CEO of TransferTravel.com

Simon Powell is CEO and founder of TransferTravel.com, an eBay-style web platform for travel allowing consumers to buy and sell unwanted travel at bargain prices (80 percent of travel is transferrable). Powell is a business executive and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience.

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