Try to avoid creating a solution without identifying the problem its designed to solve and, above all, avoid vanity projects.
Phil initially qualified as a Mechanical Engineer before transitioning into sales and account management. Working early on in his career with 3M, he made the move to Xerox Corporation where he became well versed in the financial aspects of the business and gained valuable international experience particularly when on assignment in the Middle East. Upon his return to the UK, after completing a business and finance degree, Phil accepted a Senior Management position within a major clearing bank, TSB Plc, where he remained for several years before joining Mastercard based in Europe. Phil was responsible for developing the emerging payments market for Mastercard, and its members within the EU, and formed excellent working relationships with regulatory authorities and financial institutions. This placed him in good stead when he became Managing director, and latterly Chairman, of PSI-Pay Ltd a regulated European Financial Services Company. Under Phil’s leadership PSI Pay has experienced record levels of growth achieving several industry accolades for this. Phil is, currently, also a non-executive director for other regulated companies.
Where did the idea for PSI-Pay Ltd come from?
PSI was set up, originally, as an IT company specialising in licensing technology platforms to regulated users. The realisation that PSI Pay too could become a provider of payment services prompted us to obtain our own regulatory license.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A positive attribute of my job is that there is no typical day. Diversity ranges from admin days in the office, meetings with legal and regulatory bodies, attending client meetings and a whole lot more so never a dull moment. Productivity is really down to planning the day, prioritising tasks and organising myself efficiently.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First, try to visualise the bigger picture and apply qualifying analysis, such as economic forces, socio-demographic and political influences, before bringing anything to market. Try to avoid creating a solution without identifying the problem its designed to solve and, above all, avoid vanity projects. It doesn’t matter what I think of the idea it’s what the bigger market thinks that’s important.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Probably the intelligent and imaginative, use of technology to provide payment solutions. I’m particularly keen to cross match this with equally effective, and intelligent, security and risk management tools to provide a safer environment for all.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Compartmentalise my business life from my personal one. The ability to relax and de-stress in my home life makes it far easier to concentrate on the matters in hand relating to my business.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Create a healthy work-home life balance. Do not sacrifice your personal life for your career, it rarely works out well, I found out the hard way!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You can’t please all of the people all of the time, so don’t try!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Never, ever, forget that the devil is in the detail. Meticulous planning in order to get it right first time will save a lot of heartache, and money!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Very simply understanding, and providing, what our customers, and prospective customers, want coupled with first class after sales support.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As a youngster I started selling bundles of firewood, door to door, in my neighbourhood. It did not last long due to the dramatic adoption of other forms of heating. Lesson learned, research your target market! Not real solution to that but I did then successfully start selling lottery tickets for my local sports and social club.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
In our particular market, European payments, there are certain tax concessions for employers contributing towards the heathy eating of their employees. We identified a slick method of facilitating these payments from employer to participating food outlets via the employee.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
This may be a cheat as I think it was more than £100. An appliance that dispenses filtered, hot or cold water, on demand. It’s certainly improved the flavour of my early morning coffee.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Something that enables me to amend, edit and sign PDF documents. Saves hours of printing and scanning which, previously, was the only other way to do it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Probably The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It will give you a much better insight into yourself and others and greatly assist in, effectively, interacting with friends and colleagues.
What is your favourite quote?
As a fan of the Marx Brothers I like Groucho’s comment, ‘’I couldn’t possibly be a member of any club that would accept me.’’ Makes me smile as I remember when I had a meeting at The Liberal Club in London and they had to lend me a jacket and tie before they would all ow me in!
- Plan your day and prioritise tasks. You may not get everything done that day but you will be sure that nothing gets forgotten.
- Remember the ‘it’ll be all right’ mentality will rarely be so unless you plan for all eventualities. By doing so you will achieve your goals far quicker and more efficiently if you have a plan.
- No matter how good you think your new product/service/idea is it will only ever be as good as the market thinks it is. Research, analyse and plan before you bring a solution to market. To develop, and market, a solution without understanding what the problem is can never be a good idea.
- Never underestimate the benefits of a good work/home life balance.
- In order to interact successfully with others it is essential to put yourself in their place and understand how they may feel when dealing with you.
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Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.