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Christian Surfers was formed in the early 1990s in North Devon and began as an after-work activity for a group of friends with a common interest.
The organisation is currently staffed by one person and numerous volunteers, although Christian Surfers' national director, Phil Williams, is now on the lookout for two new permanent staff members. The charity has grown enormously from the organisation that was set up in 1990, prompting Phil to give up his job as a logistics manager responsible for 700 staff within a large corporate, to make Christian Surfers a business interest as well as a personal one in May 2002.
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It was a brave decision to leave a safe, secure and well-paid job after 18 years at Exel Logistics. Phil describes it as 'living by faith' and faced the fears of having no immediate cash flow to pay the bills, support his family or meet his mortgage repayments. Another worry was going from having 700 staff to having none. But despite the huge set-up challenges, Phil dived in and has made Christian Surfers an immeasurable success.
Phil mentions that technology played a role in his decision to take the entrepreneurial route in establishing Christian Surfers as a full-time national business.
"With calls becoming cheaper and people becoming more mobile, 2002, the year I left EXEL, was definitely a year where we could make big things happen. Fast internet in the home ensured that flexible home-working and entrepreneurial start-ups were plausible choices."
Event management of this kind keeps Phil pretty much on the go for much of the time as he travels to set up events up and down the country. Phil organises big county and nationwide events as well as local community events surrounding his home town near Bristol. Keeping in touch is obviously essential in his role, yet ensuring his communication costs are predictable is important in managing the charity's funds.
Previously on an Orange consumer tariff, Phil has recently decided to move to a new Orange business tariff aimed directly at sole traders and small to medium size enterprises. Business Solo includes all the benefits of a consumer tariff with additional business benefits. Sixty-five per cent of smaller businesses tend to choose a consumer tariff and miss out on business services as a result.
Phil, however, decided it was time to switch to a tariff that was more in tune with his needs and with Business Solo he now receives the volume of calls and text minutes he requires for both personal and business use for a flat monthly fee of £35, with access to dedicated business customer services, unlimited landline calls and a data bundle, enabling him to surf the mobile internet, all included within the cost.
"The goal of getting a better work-life balance was a major driver in making Christian Surfers a full-time organisation", says Phil. "It has been a big adjustment taking total control of a business but things like predictable pricing from Orange and the ability to get in touch with people on the move have certainly helped."
Phil is especially delighted with his Business Solo tariff as all calls to landlines are included in the minutes bundle which means it is as cost effective to call whilst on the move as it is from home.
"What I like most about Business Solo is that I can make the choice of whether to have unlimited calls to landlines or unlimited texts," says Phil. "As the calls to landlines were more appropriate to my business needs that is what I chose. This gives me a real flexibility in the way I manage my business and the choice to make calls on the move rather than being tied to running Christian Surfers from a desk."
This saves lots of time and enables him to get on the move earlier and call from his hands-free kit on his frequent long car journeys to event locations, rather than call from home as he did beforehand. Phil estimates that he makes around 40 calls a day as well as sending multiple text messages which are all made within the 600-minute monthly call bundle. He is also very pleased with the 2MB of data included in the tariff as this allows him to surf the internet on the move. A really useful site is "eyeball surf" which he accesses on the move to check on the waves and swell forecast. This means he can spread the news on surfing conditions to members prior to their arrival.
Phil juggles a great deal of communications activity, communicating with 500 charity members, suppliers, event managers, governing bodies and local people on the ground at events. He uses a mixture of email, website notices, telephone calls, text and mobile internet to ensure he keeps all these people up to date with the latest news and events. As well as his national work with Christian Surfers, Phil works with local youth groups that meet regularly and finds the best way to keep them notified is by text message where he can send one text to 10-12 group members instantaneously.
"My next step is to look into mobile email", he says. "This will free me from my PC and give me another great excuse to make the beach and the back of my car my new home office."
"Nearly a third (31%) of UK workers are self-employed, freelance or sole traders and it is therefore important that we create a tariff with their specific needs in mind - something more expansive than a consumer tariff, yet not necessarily more expensive. It is thrilling to see the pace in which Christian Surfers has grown in the last five years and remarkable when we see the challenges Phil Williams overcame. He is a true entrepreneur and we salute his 'get-up-and-go' attitude."
"Nearly a third (31%) of UK workers are self-employed, freelance or sole traders and it is therefore important that we create a tariff with their specific needs in mind - something more expansive than a consumer tariff, yet not necessarily more expensive. It is thrilling to see the pace in which Christian Surfers has grown in the last five years and remarkable when we see the challenges Phil Williams overcame. He is a true entrepreneur and we salute his 'get-up-and-go' attitude." - Martin Lyne, director of small business, Orange Business UK
All benefits described here are subject to certain terms, limitations and restrictions. Business Solo is subject to terms and conditions.
Visit Christian Surfers for more information.