Colm Healy is the owner of Skelligs Chocolate, a premium hand-made confectionary range based in Kerry, Ireland.
While it might seem like the dream job for a lot of people, it’s a lot less
We caught up with Colm to find out more about his career journey to date.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
”I’m not sure, I was always restless and changing my mind. The only constant was the desire to work for myself (not in any specific industry). That hasn’t changed or gone away.”
What did you study at college?
”I have had a very mixed bag. I’ve studied logistics, I have an IT qualification and an MBA from Smurfit Exec Education.”
Talk us through your career to date.
”My career path to date makes my studying look like a straight line. When I left school I joined the civil service for a couple of years. I left when I realised it was not for me.
”I then went to the UK and spent a year selling office equipment there. When I came back I meandered through a number of service industries including nightclub security and working in a boat yard.
”After that, I went into IT. In 1999 I decided at the tender age of 31 to ‘go walkabout’. I spent the best part of 4 years in Asia and a further year in Australia. Long-term travel is a great thing to do as it really does broaden the mind. I was involved in property development while I was away.
”In early 2004 I came back to Ireland and broke all proper business rules. I visited Skelligs Chocolate initially in August 2004 and literally 30 days later I owned it. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut instinct on these things. So, 14 years on I am still here and we have grown substantially so it was worth the risk.”
What skills do you need to become an entrepreneur?
”There is nowhere to hide as an entrepreneur. You need to be honest with yourself and be able to make tough calls. It is not for the faint-hearted. The skills required will depend on your industry but an ability to get on with people is important. Then its understanding that within reason every business essentially has two components, the product or service and the running of that business. You don’t have to be able to do everything, outsourcing non-core activities is important, but you need to have an overview of everything going on. Finally, an understanding that this is not a 9-5 lifestyle is vital. As we always say, ‘Bank holiday Monday, is now just Monday’.”
Are you glad you chose this path?
”There are always good and bad days, but overall I love that fact that my destiny is up to me and I can shape my future, it’s not in the hands of someone else.”
What’s the biggest misconception people have about your job?
”The confusion between turnover and profit. A great example of this is a colleague who is in construction down the country. He built five houses with a selling price of €150,000 each (max revenue €750,000) but yet the comments were, ‘He made millions from that’.”
What is a typical day like?
”The only typical thing about my day is the family routine (when I’m at home). Every day, week, month and season is different and depending on the time of year I am working on NPD, upgrading equipment, looking at tourism trends, food trends or making sure we are staying relevant to our customers and always wondering what we can do better.”
Is your job 9-5 or always on?
”It’s somewhere in between. Work never ends and you can work all day and night if you want. You have to be able to manage time and priorities to ensure some type of balance. I would not be able to do what I do without the support of my fantastic wife and she is great at reminding me to switch off every once in a while.”
How do you manage a work-life balance?
”Discipline, if you don’t control your work life, it can very easily control you. Also, acceptance is important, there are times I have to put in much longer days and then other times when you can just take a random Tuesday off out of the blue. There is nothing like that random day off.”
What is the biggest career lesson you have learned to date?
”I think I live by a lot of sayings and I trot this out on a regular basis, ‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are probably right.’ Many people, especially Irish people, have a mindset that failure and success are at the opposite ends of a spectrum, but my mindset says that failure is nothing more than the step before success.”