Interviews

How I built an £8m party clown empire

James Sinclair became a children's entertainer while still a child. Aged 29, he's still got the knack for making people laugh - that and £8 million a year in sales.

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James Sinclair became a children's entertainer while still a child. Aged 29, he's still got the knack for making people laugh - that and £8 million a year in sales.

Interviews

How I built an £8m party clown empire

James Sinclair became a children's entertainer while still a child. Aged 29, he's still got the knack for making people laugh - that and £8 million a year in sales.

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How I built an £8m party clown empire

I was just a kid who loved to show off. That was how it all began. It led me to start my first business at 14 years of age. This was when my light bulb moment arrived. Still 14 years of age and at my sister’s birthday party. I was sat watching the terrible children’s entertainer they had hired for the party. It dawned on me that it wouldn’t be hard to improve upon his routine. I decided this was how I could apply my love of drama and turn it into a profession.

Many say they don’t know what they want to do with their lives. At 14 I was lucky enough to know I wanted to be a clown. Not what many children aspire to these days. Most want to be game designers. My company Sinclair Entertainments was born.

"By age 20 I had 10 full time entertainers and face painters working for me"

A lesson I learnt while still at school was that I could only make so much money as one person. It came from taking on too many paper rounds and a spree of delivering papers to the wrong houses. There were only so many hours in the day. I needed to double my time if I was to make more money. Time is the one asset you can’t recover. I’m glad I learnt that lesson at a young age.

James Sinclair Partyman clown

Partyman's James Sinclair likes a joke, but his business is pretty serious stuff

Along with the paper rounds, as clichéd as it sounds, I was selling sweets in the playground. However people would ask me to act out the comedy routines and do impressions of the teachers. I realised they were buying from me for the experience. My prices weren’t that competitive but they enjoyed the experience. I learnt to compete on customer experience and not price. This has become one of my mantras.

The first subsidiary of Sinclair Entertainment was Jimbo The Partyman. It taught me many lessons about branding and how to represent myself to my target audience. As the business grew I met Craig Gallimore. He was a very successful entertainer and became my mentor. He would pass on smaller gigs to me; the surplus that he couldn’t handle.

I broke the old mould of clown costume and opted for trendier attire. I reinvested my earnings in better costumes, better sound systems and a fully branded van. Everywhere I went I created an experience. Even those I passed by in the street would hear the music from the PA system. When I parked the van I would interact with passers by. Again competing on experience and not price.

With my guiding principle being to compete on experience and not price the business grew. I found myself doing 18 parties a week. It was time to hire other entertainers and regain my time. We continued to grow and by age 20 I had 10 full time entertainers and face painters working for me. We evolved further from just small children’s parties to large corporate entertainment.

The Partyman Company

By the age of 20 James was doing up to 18 parties a week, and not the kind normal 20-year-olds attend

At the same time the entertainment business was growing we opened and agency for children’s entertainment. The agency was my first lesson in passive income and it was fantastic. However, I still guided the agency with my principle of experience over price. The entertainers were auditioned rigorously. I had to ensure they delivered the same experience that I would deliver to my customers.

My first hire was a lady called Jean. I hated paperwork and realised my time was better spent on my strengths. My strength being sales. Keep focused on the big picture. Keep building your experience.

We went from strength to strength over the coming years. I credit a lot of this growth to Aaron. As the mafia would say he became my consigliere (right-hand man) and we complemented each other. He is still with me today and manages the business. Our success would not have been possible without his skills. The lesson here is to bring in talent. You can’t grow a big business on your own.

Now 29 years of age I have racked up 15 years of business experience. The business now turns over £8 million per year. The story above focuses on the positive aspects of the journey. However, you don’t go from £100K per year to £8 million per year without a few problems. Both business and personal. It really is a beast that consumes you and balancing a personal life with the business is tough. That will be subject of another article.

James Sinclair is the owner of The Partyman Company and author of The Millionaire Clown.

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How I built an £8m party clown empire

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