When I started Coffee Nation I thought I had found an idea that was good to run with – simple to operate takeaway coffee dispensers installed in newsagents and convenience stores across the UK. A similar offer already existed in the US and what works there usually comes here. Also, coffee shops were just starting to appear in the UK so I thought the signs were positive.
Every day we make decisions – hundreds, if not thousands, of them, such as what jacket to wear or what to have for lunch. When it comes to the big crunch decisions though – the ones that will have a major impact on our business – it’s often not such a simple matter. It’s easy to sweat over a decision too much to the extent you just can’t see the wood for the trees any more.
Lonely leaders of small business are often advised that a Non-Executive Director can help accelerate their growth and give them support they need, perhaps as a sounding board, a person to sense check developments with or just someone to share some the strains of the business. However, all too often I see inexperienced company leaders in a fast growth phase take on an ill-fitting, expensive and sometimes out-of-date deadwood individual who will drag out their black book, carefully manage the value they introduce to the business over a longer period of time than is necessary, and aim to milk their tenure for a term well beyond their sell by date.
It is easy to think that raising finance for your business will be hard when banks are not lending, people seem to have less money to invest and the economy gets worse.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. There are very generous tax breaks for people who invest in businesses like yours; there is more money out there for investing than ever before; and there is a completely new type of investor waiting to invest in you.
You do need to be looking in the right places to get it, though.
Keeping it in the family is generally the preferred choice for most businesses. However, some find that cash constraints or growth opportunities make it either necessary or desirable to raise additional finance. If this cannot be found through borrowing or other non-equity sources, then raising external equity may be the only option.
Last year banks were in the news for all the wrong reasons. According to reports the state owned banking giant, RBS, had been making vast profits at the expense of vulnerable SMEs; its effort to reduce risky loans has nudged previously solvent companies out of business.
The winners of the first ever Great British Entrepreneur Awards — in association with Bizcrowd – were announced last night at the Grand Connaught Rooms. The Awards have been recognised as the new benchmark for entrepreneurial success in the UK. Last night’s event reflected their appeal with attendance from a who’s who in UK business, politics and entrepreneurship.
Have you ever left a negotiation feeling like you gave away too much? Or perhaps you didn’t get everything you wanted? Successful negotiating is a key skill for SMEs — especially when they may be dealing with much bigger businesses. Whether establishing the salary for a new recruit or getting the best from a supplier, these tried and tested negotiation tactics can help you get what’s best for your business.
Finding it hard to place stories with the media? Then try this
Many PR professionals are complaining that it is getting harder to place stories with the media, journalists are either too busy or simply get too many pitches. But there is a way of turning that to your advantage, which I’ll address shortly.
Last week was Global Entrepreneurship Week which saw seven days of celebration for inventors and entrepreneurs past and present, as well as advice for those looking to get their light bulb moment off the ground.
In less than three years, we have transformed Captify from a great idea into a company that’s at the cutting edge of the European advertising tech market. Turning a humble idea into a fully-fledged business can be daunting for anyone, but the stress levels go up a notch or two when, like us, you’re in your 20s, with no university education or money in the bank. However, with hard work, commitment and a passion for your business, it’s certainly not impossible. Our top five tips for any 20-something budding entrepreneur looking to set the startup world on fire are:
The National Business Awards’ Entrepreneur of the Year 2013, David Spencer-Percival, co-founded his specialist recruitment company, Spencer Ogden, with Sir Peter Ogden in 2010. Turning over £4m in its first year, the company recently announced a turnover of £32.2m in 2012, with a projected £50m+ for 2013.
As an entrepreneur who has invested significantly in my own company, I believe that bootstrapping is the best option when starting a business. It’s never easy, and it’s not always glamorous, but bootstrapping will encourage you to become a better, stronger entrepreneur and ultimately incentivise you to intelligently grow your business.
When my business partner, Jamie Turner and I first established Postcode Anywhere back in 2001, we originally considered funding and went to meet a number of venture capitalists (VCs) including Barclays Capital and Elderstreet Investment.