Expert Q&A: David Hyner

David Hyner is a motivational speaker and runs a research-based training company in the UK. Here we get under the skin of how he’s been successful so far.

David Hyner1. When did you realise you wanted to start your own business?

From the age of fifteen I had dreamed of having my own business, but I was too much of a coward to take any action until I was twenty.

Starting the business was partly down to me being a dreamer, and partly down to a desire to prove a few people wrong as I had overheard some colleagues saying that I would never last a year in business for myself.

Sometimes it can be good to be motivated by a negative force as well as by what you can achieve.

2. How did you get started and what was the biggest hurdle you overcame?

My enthusiasm, arrogance and self belief was great but knowledge and skill minimal.

I had trained and worked as a chef and wanted to start an outside and event catering business doing buffets, dinners and BBQ’s for corporate and private clients.

My father had helped my mother set up her cake decorating business. He had a spare room at the back of their shop and offered it to me to use, along with a small loan to get some plant and equipment. It soon became clear that my young age was a barrier to large corporates and posh wedding clients trusting me with their event. So I pretended to work “for” the business rather than “own” the business until my confidence grew.

The biggest challenges I faced included a protracted HMRC investigation that started with them accusing me of fraud and ended up with them owing me money. Me having to take on one of the largest companies in the world in a legal dispute over advertising, and selling the catering business to become a professional researcher and speaker which is what I do today.

I ran the catering business for fourteen years and have now been a professional speaker for the same duration…….. speaking is easier…. MUCH easier.

I started to interview very successful people to see if I could learn how to grow my business but instead started an obsession with success thinking that has enabled me to travel the world sharing my research into goal setting and personal effectiveness. My research interviews are now in the hundreds and I am mad about my work.

The biggest challenge I have faced in the speaking business was getting my head around the fact that my presentation was about the audience and NOT about my ego. I used to ponce around seeking acclaim. Now I give an audience 100% and feel good when I get emails from clients telling me what they have achieved instead.

3. What’s been your most successful way of getting clients?

Easy one to answer;

1) Speaking at events positions you as an authority on your subject. People want to hire experts, and targeted events have my target clients in the room. I speak there!

2) Give “FAR MORE” value than they ever expect. I don’t just speak at an event and run like so many speakers. If the fee is right, I leave clients with resources to improve retention, recall and application of my content which gets the client a bigger return on their investment in my service.

3) NEVER shoe-horning yourself into a contract if you are genuinely not the right person to deliver that work. SAY NO !

4) Being true to who you are means that you tend to only “get” customers that “get you” and what you stand for. Too many people are a different person at work than they are at home. It is much easier to be you all of the time and then you never have to think what to do or how to “be”.

4. How do you get clients to stay with you and use you for more work?

As a speaker there can be a lot of single transaction work with clients so for me to get repeat work means I had better be good. I genuinely care about the delegates in my room be it a training scenario for ten people or a conference with thousands in the room. Because I “WANT” them to understand and use my content I give them everything I have got. Clients see this and frequently say how refreshing it is to have someone that is so passionate.

I think this is critical to the success of gaining repeat work. It is no good being passionate if you are too stiff to “SHOW IT”. People believe what they see and not what they hear, so if you are saying that you are excited about your latest product or service you had better look and sound excited. I get to know what a customer needs from my industry and stay in touch at key times, and sometimes send a hand written card for no other reason that to say “hi…. i was thinking about you….”.

5. Do you ever have issues with clients paying late? How do you manage that?

I rarely have issues with late payment because of the groundwork I do in relationship building up front. Just before writing this article for you I pinged an email to a client reminding them that they are overdue by saying “DON’T MAKE ME PUT ANOTHER CABBAGE IN THE STEW!!! …… Please pay me now. Even speakers have to eat and pay their bills you know”

I find a little humour goes a long way, as does saying THANK YOU with a hand written card to customers and accounts staff who pay you early or on time. I once had a book keeper call me in tears saying that i was the only person in twenty years to ever send her a thank you card for doing her job. She pays me early now !!

6. What does your typical work day look like?

Due to a bizarre home life I am woken anytime between 2am-6.30am. Sleep is an issue.

If i have an office base day (i work from home) i help my wife and son get ready for their day (they need support) or i go for a swim. Then i tend to work at my desk all day only pausing for drinks and meals etc….. and maybe a bit of social media distraction.

If i am presenting and have not stayed over the night prior, I rise anytime between 4am-6am and I’m on the road to an event. This could be a company, a conference or even a school or university. In the car on route i do vocal exercises to warm up my voice (my voice is my toolbox and so ned to protect it) and go through key parts of my talk or presentation that day – even if i have done it thousands of times before. Rehearsal is “key” for me.

I speak or train for anything between 1hr-7hrs on a presentation day and then drive home and attempt to get on top of emails etc before family time and as early a bed as my obsession with movies and personal development allows me to do.

Any down time I get (limited due to my care role at home) is spent creatively or trying to get my next top achiever interview.

7. Any piece of advice/wisdom that you’d like to give the readers at Business Unleashed?

Set MASSIVE goals, and NOT the much taught “realistic and achievable” goals as these set people up for mediocrity AT BEST !

Get a purpose… a reason WHY you must succeed, that is bigger than your fear of failure. Make it so compelling that you can’t wait to take action

Serve others as best you can and have faith in your god.

(You can connect with David Hyner at:


2 Responses to Expert Q&A: David Hyner

  1. really interesting article. I’m wanting to do some public speaking myself so the points listed above under 3 are great. I’m delighted to hear him say that he wouldn’t speak at something that the wrong match for him

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