From Olympic performer to Dubai financial juggler

As a circus-trained performer in his native United Kingdom, Dan Bolton was used to walking on stilts or wowing audiences with fire-eating shows.

But since launching his own business in Dubai, the former performer has become more accustomed to juggling – his personal finances, that is.

Mr Bolton, 34, has performed at high-profile shows such as the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, where he is from, and the Athens 2004 Olympics.

But he moved to a different arena in 2008, when he relocated to Dubai and started working as a booker at the modelling and talent agency Bareface.

It was not until 2015 that his career as a business owner – and financial juggler – really began. Having left Bareface after a seven-year stint, Mr Bolton launched the Dan Bolton Consultancy last September, which specialises in talent management and live entertainment, using a mixture of his own personal savings and funding from a partner, who covered the start-up costs such as the trade licence, visas and the website.

Although the consultancy is now established, Mr Bolton his finances have been placed under the spotlight.

“It’s tough. It is a constant battle,” he says. “You want to do things, and you want to grow. But at the same time, you’re still waiting for that cheque to come in from the client, and you have to pay people.

“There are so many other expenses that you don’t even think about at the time, everything from trade licences to visas, medical insurance, operating costs. There are all these things that do stack up.”

But as well as the business costs to consider, Mr Bolton also had to adjust his personal finances.

“You loose that safety net of a regular income and gain responsibilities in paying staff / suppliers whose needs come before your own,” he says. “I don’t go out as often as I did and I got rid of my car that was costing too much to maintain and service and now use public transport where possible.”

The business is registered in Creative City, Fujairah, which Mr Bolton says attracted lower start-up costs, but can mean restrictions on the kind of clients his company can work for in the UAE.

“I’m earning more money now as a self-employed business owner. However realistically, for the first few months I was not able pay myself, because it was purely outgoings. So you have to make sure that you have savings,” says Mr Bolton.

Another word of advice for new entrepreneurs is that they should only spend money on absolute essentials, he adds.

“Be prudent – don’t go crazy. I would love to have an all-singing, all-dancing website, or the most flashy offices. But realistically, it’s not something that is important, or that I can afford right now.”

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