IN this week's SME Focus we hear from two renewable energy enthusiasts who found starting a business gave them the freedom to manage their priorities more effectively than in a regular job.

Name: Monica Griesbaum.

Age: 41.

What is your business called? Oldbaum Services Ltd.

Where is it based?

Stirling and Mumbai.

What does it produce; what services does it offer?

Our company helps clients who are planning a wind farm and our focus is on collecting wind-speed data. Our experts can help advise on a potential project site, onshore or offshore. We can commission the relevant instrument to measure wind speed and acquire the data. We ensure our clients have the right wind-speed data, and we help them make sense of it. Wind speed data is crucial to a project in order to decide on such details as the right wind turbine, how many are needed, and where they should be located. With wind-speed data you can also calculate what your return will be.

Who does it sell to?

Our clients range from individual landowners to large-scale wind farm developers and government organisations around the world.

What is its turnover?

At the end of our last financial year we were over £1 million for the first time, which is quite a significant milestone.

How many employees? Nine.

When was it formed?

February 2005.

Why did you take the plunge?

My fellow director and partner, Andy Oldroyd, and I were working individually in different industries before starting Oldbaum. I worked in the area of psychology and Andy worked in mechanical engineering in Glasgow. We met at a party while we were both at University.

In 2003, one of our children suddenly became very ill for a long period of time, which meant that we were both unable to hold down 9-to-5 jobs so we decided to just go for it and started Oldbaum. To have our own business initially allowed us to be flexible, use our skills, knowledge and interests, as well as giving us a focus.

Andy and myself have been interested in renewable energy for many years and have had a strong drive to work in a creative and solution-focused way.

I find it exciting to see new technologies emerge that enable us all to reduce C02 and generate energy that isn't too damaging to the environment.

This, combined with a long-term interest in new technologies and techniques, made us feel we had something to offer.

Andy oversees the technical side of the business and I use very transferable skills from my previous job and cover areas such as team development and performance.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

Before Oldbaum, I completed a degree in psychology and a Masters in psychology and health and worked with patients affected by various eating disorders, depression and anxiety, and also in mental health research.

Andy was a teaching assistant at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Strathclyde University. His duties there included lecturing in aerodynamics and computational fluid dynamics. He then followed his interest in renewables and received a scholarship to do his Masters in environmental sustainability at the University of Edinburgh.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

We didn't actually get any start-up funding. Oldbaum started with one laptop, a load of energy, ideas and determination.

We only moved to an office once we were sure we were able to afford it. Before that we used a home office. It was very exciting when we realised we needed staff, but a little scary at the same time. We realised then that the company had a lot of potential and that to be able to grow we would have to take the plunge, get an office and put a great team in place. Recruiting has been challenging for us at times since the services we provide are highly technical.

What was your biggest break?

In the early days, the biggest break came when Andy was a university lecturer and walked into a friend's office where he was first introduced to a SODAR. This is one of the instruments Oldbaum use to collect wind-speed data from a remote location. This was a bit of a "Eureka!" moment, as it gave Andy the idea to use the concept of remote sensing as a business.

Another big break was coordinating NORSEWInD, an EC-funded project which gathered wind-speed data for the North, Irish and Baltic seas, involving four years of work. In August the Indian government published an Oldbaum report identifying offshore wind potential in a specific area of the country.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

It's very exciting to be part of a fairly new and fast developing industry. We enjoy working with cutting-edge technology and to be heavily involved in research and development. I also find it very rewarding to lead a dedicated and highly motivated team full of very bright people.

What do you least enjoy?

As a company director, the business is always with you and often it's difficult to unwind and enjoy the sunshine. It's really hard to take any holidays because as a co-owner of a company you have to be available all the time in order for things to run as smoothly as possible.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

International growth. Having worked in South America and Asia we would like to grow our customer base there and look forward to more exciting projects around the world.

What are your top priorities?

To maintain growth and international expansion: clever recruitment, to maintain innovation and research, and to remain flexible with regards to changes in the market and service and product demands.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

For the Scottish Government we would like to see the clear commitment to renewables maintained. For Westminster, we would like very much for a consistent message to be delivered that maintains investor and public confidence in renewables. At times it feels there are a variety of views expressed by Westminster on energy policy. This can undermine a lot of hard work with real potential to create jobs and of course provide clean energy.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

It is important to stay calm and positive even if you are worried about something you've got to work through. It is necessary to stay calm under pressure. If there is anything that seems to be not going your way you still have to persevere, keep going and remain solution-focused. I have also learned a lot of business skills such as people-management and all the different aspects of leading a business - including how to recruit. I have also learned never to be afraid of recruiting somebody who knows more than you in a particular area - this will only add value to your business.

How do you relax?

Pilates, eating outside, and putting my feet up to one of those Swedish dramas with subtitles!