Tom was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in August 2019. He had already set up photo sharing site Clickasnap and is now learning to juggle the stresses of running your own business with having IBD.
In this interview he tells us more about being a business owner with IBD.
What type of IBD do you have and when were you diagnosed?
Ulcerative colitis (pancolitis), diagnosed in Aug 2019.
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I'd like to share all the things that I have learnt that have improved my health and quality of life over the past 15 years living with IBD.
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Seb, Co-founder IBDrelief
Tell us about your business
My business, Clickasnap, is a unique photo sharing site where photographers can earn money just by having their photos looked at. We've built it up to over 22,000 photographers with a million images viewed a month. Think YouTube millionaires, we’ve done the same for photographers.
When and why did you start your business?
I started the business in 2016 to disrupt businesses like Instagram and Facebook who monetise your content with no return to the person with the skills and work required to produce the artwork.
How does your IBD affect your business?
It doesn’t affect the business directly, but it does affect me. Building a big tech disrupting business like Clickasnap is stressful, expensive and extremely hard work.
Every other company wants you to fail, because if you succeed, they will fail. The mindset I have to get as far as I have with it (the business) has helped me cope with the immensely disruptive nature of ulcerative colitis, and I look at this disease as just another thing to conquer, one way or the other.
Are there benefits to running your own business when you have IBD?
As with every career avenue there are pros and cons. Running your own business can certainly give you freedom, conversely it can cause immense financial stress if you are stuck in hospital and have bills to pay.
However, a driver for me is to be free of the 9-5 and I certainly think that helps alleviate some of the stress associated with chronic conditions like IBD.
How do you deal with the stress and workload of running your own business and do you think this has an impact on your IBD?
Not a good one! Managing stress is extremely important when building and running a business, and becomes even more so when dealing with something like IBD. I find problem solving, long range target shooting and a clay pigeon round help immensely to mitigate this.
What are your hopes for your business in the future?
It’s my retirement fund. I fully plan to do what it takes to IPO (initial public offering) it and use a significant portion of the funds to find a cure for this disease.
What advice do you have for other people with IBD who are thinking of starting a business?
Do it. Make sure you test the market, try and think of every possible contingency.
You woke up one day and were diagnosed with a chronic, incurable life changing disease. You have a unique perspective on life that healthy people don’t have.
You could wake up tomorrow and be diagnosed with a terminal disease. You've literally nothing to lose by diving into that idea and making it work. Remember persistence and grit is what makes a business successful.
Finally, don’t chase investment, work on getting paying customers, borrow what you can and investment will likely come to you on your terms.