Anthony Chadwick, The Webinar Vet

Anthony Chadwick, The Webinar Vet

Introducing new ways of learning into the traditional world of veterinary practice has more than paid off for online veterinary training business The Webinar Vet during the pandemic, says its founder Anthony Chadwick.

What does your business do?

The Webinar Vet is an online training business for qualified vets and now has over 75,000 veterinary professionals accessing the training in over 120 countries. We have reduced travel mileage by several million miles since starting in 2010. We also recently added a recruitment arm. We employ 25 people and have a turnover of £2.5 million.

What was the inspiration for your business?

I was a practising veterinary surgeon and felt that it was difficult to keep up to date with CPD (Continuing Professional Development) training in the old-fashioned way, which meant finishing a busy evening surgery at 7pm then driving up to Preston or Manchester to do an evening of CPD and getting home at midnight. But the traditional CPD companies weren’t looking to change because they were quite happy with the model they had.

I heard somebody talking about webinars at an internet conference and thought, why are we not doing this for vets? The idea grew from there and The Webinar Vet was launched in 2010.

How did you finance the growth of your business?

The business had very good cashflow from the start so for the first five years it didn’t really need any investment. I made £4000 from my first webinar which was about itchy dogs, and when we handed out leaflets at a physical conference for a four-part webinar series we sold 100 tickets at £50 each, so that was another £5000.

For the first 18 months I ran the business alongside my veterinary practice. I then decided to sell my practice and continued working on Webinar Vet part time to allow me to care for my parents who were not very well. But when my parents passed away, I was able to focus on growing the business and got a £380,000 investment from the North West Business Fund and some angel investors.

What has been the most difficult or challenging part of growing your business?

Finding the right partners to get the technology right, and onboarding the right people. As you grow you need to make sure you have people in your team who are really passionate about what you are doing and want to be part of the journey by aligning with the businesses core values.

What key lesson have you learnt about setting up and growing a business?

That you need to just do it. When I went back to the internet conference a year later I spoke to people I had met the previous year who said they still hadn’t got their website right so they hadn’t launched their business yet, while I had created a six figure business in that year. So be bold and go for it and don’t wait until it is perfect.

What has been the impact of the pandemic on your business and how have you dealt with this?

We have been preparing for the pandemic for the last 11 years; we just didn’t realise it. In 2020 a lot of physical conferences suddenly had to cancel so we pivoted into that area and did about 40 virtual conferences for companies and associations. As a result, the business has doubled in size over the last 12 months.

What has been your biggest mistake?

We have made mistakes in recruitment although we try to limit that by having a good process and putting people through a psychometric test. But you don’t get that right all the time so sometimes you have to be bold and have courageous conversations where you have to say this isn’t working, particularly if someone is affecting the culture of the business or if their attitude isn’t right.

What has been the secret of your success so far?

Wanting to look at things in a different way. Being disruptive and innovative while being prepared to take risks and move quickly. We brought the word webinar into the veterinary dictionary – it didn’t exist before. Now it is the most common way that vets learn.

What advice would you give an entrepreneur just starting out about how to grow their business?

First, give yourself some kind of safety net. If you have a job and a good idea, then try it out and make sure it is working before you give up your job. If it hasn’t made some traction in the first three to six months, it probably isn’t going to.

Second, be prepared to listen and learn from people. Don’t be stubborn and stick with an idea that you think is brilliant if you are getting a lot of negative feedback.

What personal quality or characteristic has been most useful to you as an entrepreneur as you grow your business?


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