Seeking out opportunities to succeed

University of Derby graduate David Hambling is the owner of The Joy of Pages, a publishing services company based in Derbyshire. He set up his business with the help of our Be The Boss programme. Here, he recounts his journey.

Wanting something more

In my career as a student, graduate and now business owner, I was provided every opportunity to succeed. Yet being provided with opportunities is not enough. I took every opportunity that was presented to me and even sought them out. This is the most important part of being a student, wanting to become a business owner or someone who wishes to rise above and become something more.

I have heard it said that “I never had the opportunity” or “someone like me could never do that”. I would say that those are simply excuses for not trying. I come from a poor family. I had hand-me-downs, I ate cheap, unbranded food, I went to a poor school and did poorly while there. Yet I have made my own success. I wanted something more from life and I went and got it.

The first step

The first place I began was to enrol at the University of Derby on an Access Course to Higher Education. This was when level 2 was still available to study, and I was able to pass with very high marks. After this, I struggled to decide which bachelors degree I would like to study.

I wanted to be a teacher. However, I did not agree with the way that schools were treated and how children in those schools were simply statistics and numbers. This resulted in me taking a degree in American Studies and History, which gave me the opportunity to study at Longwood University in the United States.

Studying in the US was one of the greatest experiences that I could have ever had. I was able to experience their rich culture and came to the understanding of how we are indeed separated by the same language.

I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and was awarded a 4.0 Grade Point Average, which is the highest possible. Upon my return from the US, I was presented with the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Academics. My final grade for my BA was a First and I won the Best Student Prize for American Studies.

A chance meeting

It was then a struggle to decide what I wanted to do after I graduated and, after a chance meeting with Alistair Hodge, the Head of School, Humanities and Journalism, who teaches on the Publishing MA, did I decide that I wanted to go into publishing.

It was while studying the MA that I truly fell in love with the publishing industry, having the opportunity be part of the publishing project to produce the book Fox 8 by George Saunders. This was something that I knew I wanted to be a part of as it would give me real experience working in the book industry which would be invaluable when looking for a job.

While being a part of this project, I was also presented with the chance to work with Spirit Duplicator Publishing to edit and work on their magazine and their manuscript The Glendora Complex. This helped me to fully develop my ability to use the Adobe products, which proved invaluable when I have been working on children’s books.

What’s next?

Throughout my university career, I had been interacting with the Careers Department with the aim of finding what job I wanted to do. I had, by the time I was on the MA, applied to various industries and jobs that I thought I would be great at but, unfortunately, I would fail at the last hurdle.

I also found the idea of working for a big faceless company rather distasteful and wanted to do something else. Because of this, I asked my careers adviser Rachel Wright what I could do. She suggested that I take part in the University’s Be The Boss Programme and set up my own business.

This sounded like an awesome journey to be on. Yet, in order to actually do it, I needed to attend the Buxton and Leek College site as many of my classes were on the same days as the programme was run at Kedleston Road. I was determined to do the Be The Boss Programme and made the journey to Buxton and Leek several times to ensure I was successful.

Starting a company

After graduation, I set up my company, The Joy of Pages, a publishing services company wherein I would help self-publishing authors get published. This has now expanded into copywriting and graphic design, and I have been working with a local museum, using the skills of designing book covers and creative writing to its fullest.

For part of my week, I am based at the University’s Enterprise Centre in Derby. This began after I read a chance post on Facebook. There was the opportunity to access office space by entering into a competition and present why it would benefit your business. I entered and found out that I was successful!

A turning point

Using the Enterprise Centre has proven to be a real turning point for my business. I have been able to meet various members of the Enterprise Centre team and have been able to go to networking events and business events that I had never thought of doing before.

It has been such an exciting time for my business. In only two months of using the Enterprise Centre, I have opened up new opportunities and prospects for the future that I had not dreamt or thought of before.

Not only do I have access to the Business Lounge where I can network with other businesses, I also have access to the Innovation Hothouse, which is a more formal office space where focused work can take place.

The ability to work within the Enterprise Centre puts me in a very strategic position within the city of Derby. I have access to so many different businesses and the people who run them. This presents me with the opportunity to truly grow and develop my business.

In true fashion, I will be grabbing these opportunities to really harness the potential of using and engaging with the Enterprise Centre, develop and grow The Joy of Pages, and use my experiences to help other entrepreneurs with their journey.

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