Sam Smith – Genuine Futures CIC

Sam Smith is the co-founder of Genuine Futures CIC based in Lancashire.

“At Genuine Futures we are passionate and dedicated to empowering the lives of individuals in our communities who may have faced difficult obstacles and barriers in their lives, that have prevented them from achieving their full potential. We believe that everyone, regardless of their background or circumstance, deserves the opportunity to build a brighter and more fulfilling future for themselves.”

Sam was kind enough to share his story to help inspire others.

My name is Sam Smith, I am a social entrepreneur, and I have a passion for creating enterprises.

I have been involved in the home maintenance market for the past 23 years cross selling a wide range of domestic and commercial cleaning services.

More recently, I am the Co-Founder of Genuine Futures.

How did your lived experience inform your future plans?

Growing up as a teenager in the 1980s I felt let down by the system. Coming from a single parent background, from a tough council estate, and with very little stability in my life, I found life challenging. School in particular made me feel worthless and inadequate.  I may not have been the most able student, but I knew I wasn’t stupid either, yet somehow school didn’t seem to offer me the opportunities that I believe it should have. I was labelled a failure, a no hoper.

Frustrated, I rebelled against the system, and against my violent stepfather.

I was rejected by my stepfather at the age of 13. Consequently, I spent my teenage years, and much of my early adult life, in the care of the local authority, often sleeping rough on the streets and spending time in several youth offender institutions across the UK.

In the 1990’s I was involved in the Strangways riot, when I was just 18, but there was worse yet to come. Finding my only brother lying dead, overdosed on heroin, these are the sights and smells that live with me always.

Because I felt rejected by the system I lived outside the system, abiding by a completely different set of rules.

What was the turning point?

The turning point was the birth of my eldest child, Connor, in 1994. When my son was born, I was determined that I would provide love, care, and strong family values for him, as my own upbringing often lacked these qualities. I knew I had to act, given these new responsibilities.

One day I decided enough was enough and that I had to better my life the only way I knew how, with hard work. I decided I would go and buy a bucket and sponge and go out into the local community washing cars from the boot of my car.

How did you utilise your entrepreneurial talent?

Ambition and determination knocking on doors, touting for business’ soon grew a loyal customer base. So much so, that I needed to fund my rapidly growing business.

At the outset I had no skills to speak of, only my determination and willingness to learn. I made mistakes along the way, but I learnt quickly, I grew in confidence, and I developed a wide range of business skills.

What was a major obstacle and how did you overcome it?

Lack of capital, and a narrow client base was a major obstacle. I was directed to the Prince’s Trust where I undertook business management courses and ultimately secured the funding to buy my first van, and better equipment.

What are you most proud of?

I went on to win numerous awards and I was nominated for the Princess Trust Business of the year in 2000, becoming a Northwest Winner.

But, making a direct difference every day and transforming the lives of 320 individuals, is what I am most proud of.

What one piece of advice would you give others?

Your life is your responsibility. Focus on you and your personal development. You must cut out any negative influences in your life and replace them with kind, genuine, positive people and learn from them.