If You Could Go Back (3 Things To Say To Your Younger Self)


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There are more of us than ever starting our own businesses.

20 local business owners from Dorset were asked what they would do if they 'could go back.'

Each participant was asked if they could turn back time and about to start their own business, what three things they would advise their younger self.

Here we are...'What three things would you advise your younger self to build a successful business?'

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If You Could Go Back (3 Things To Say To Your Younger Self)

  1. 1. IF YOU COULD GO BACK... Dorset business owners advice to their younger selves
  2. 2. There are more of us than ever building our own empires. But once we start our own businesses, it does feel isolating. Wouldn’t it be great if we could learn from those who can pass on their knowledge? There are 4.8 million private sector businesses in the UK, the highest since estimates began in 2000, according to the Business Population Estimates (BPE). To put things into perspective even further, British entrepreneurs broke records in 2012, with start-up numbers up by 10% to 484,224 businesses (over 440,000 in 2011), according to Start-Up Britain. Twenty local business owners, who are all part of the Dorset business community, were asked what they would do ‘if they could go back.’ Each participant was asked if they could turn back time and about to start their own business or at a stage when they are thinking about self employment, what three things they would advise to their younger self. So, here we go, here’s the business owners response to… “What three things would you advise your younger self to build a successful business?”
  3. 3. Brian Maidman 1. Understand the power of good marketing During the early days of a business, there may be little consistency and continuity in the company image. You don’t have to have everything in one go, but it is vital to establish an identity (corporate logo, colours, signage, photography, printed collateral). Once a brand image is created, you are able to work with something that is tangible and continues to help you with your brand perception and recognition within the local area. 2. True costing Maidman’s Removals & Storage/Store & Secure Self Storage Maidman’s Removals & Storage are recognised locally and nationally as a market leader in the removals sector. Sister company, Store & Secure, provide a state-of-the-art self storage facility, behind Castlepoint, in Bournemouth. You have to understand the financial side to price accordingly, in terms of profit and loss, balance sheets and the goal to make a profit. Taking these factors into consideration helps you plan based on getting to know your figures inside out on a regular basis. 3. Join A Credited Association Being part of a recognised affiliated association (e.g. British Association of Removers) becomes a source of valuable information, in terms of running a successful company. Being involved with the heart of the industry allows you to network, influence decision-making and policy and to be seen as giving a bit back.
  4. 4. Barbara Cox 1. Manage time Be ruthless with time. You have 24 hours in each day and you’ll never get it back. How we plan our day is a vital factor to consider. So be disciplined to reduce any interruptions (the ping of the email inbox). You may find it beneficial to delegate and outsource areas that can be managed better. 2. Learn the fundamental of sales You don’t have to be from a business background, but you need to be able to sell. Have a thirst for knowledge so you can adapt and let your skills grow with the business. Most people aren’t interested with a cold call, so make sure your product is strong enough to build interest and make that sale. 3. Promote a culture Make it clear what the focus of your business is, so people can familiarise themselves with what you do. Your decisions will be based on your vision, which helps to keep focus with everyone associated with the business. Keep that bar high and always exceed in customer expectations, and excel in building relationships. Nutri Chef Nutrichef head nutritionist and company founder, Barbara Cox, became passionate about eating healthily during her time in Japan. Barbara advises people with losing weight, training athletes for sports events, and those that want to eat healthier. Barbara writes articles on health for various magazines and she won the 2008 British Chamber of Commerce Nation Award for Entrepreneur of the Year.
  5. 5. Ali Carter 1. Never let others influence or sway you It can be easy to make a compromise and not stay true to yourself. Never doubt your beliefs and inner strength by following a path that you do not feel is your journey. Always stick to what you believe in. 2. Follow your passion Cater Cost ‘The Pub Mentor’ is 100% dedicated to giving genuine business support to independent hospitality operators helping them save time and make more money. Her latest business venture CaterCost is a software designed specifically for the independent caterer and is taking the industry by storm. It would be great for people to be taught (at an early age) what they want to do in life by setting goals and achievements required to develop your passion. If you can find what you love doing early on in life, and you enjoy it, follow it. 3. Build a network of massively skilled people You achieve the most when you surround yourself at an early stage by others that are better than you, and that compliment your products and services. If you do this, it allows the mindset to inspire and educate, more importantly, building confidence in yourself and what you do. Remember this – ‘iron sharpens iron.’
  6. 6. Colin Gale 1. Learn more about running a business It’s okay having a skill and putting it into practice, but no one tells you how to run a business and to make it work to generate revenue. There is a big difference between making a living and running a profitable business. Knowing how to cost and understanding the difference between mark-ups and profit ratio are vital for the success of a business. 2. Affiliation with an organisation Affiliating with a recognised/established association allows you to make the step up to gain more recognition within your industry. By working with a company that the industry respects provides opportunity, builds credibility and grows relationships. 3. Resilience and perseverance When opportunity comes your way, you have to take it. The rewards are through hard work and dedication, not through blind hope and cutting corners. Look to punch above your weight and aim a little bit higher than what you want to achieve, or you will be the same as everyone else. ETS Trucks ETS Trucks are a commercial vehicle maintenance and repair team, based in Poole since 1994. We are also a service dealer for MAN covering Dorset and the surrounding area.
  7. 7. Gary Neild 1. Understand skill sets You know what you are good at so play to your strengths. As for the work which doesn’t suit your skill set, don’t for one minute hesitate to contract others into your business that are better than you. It is always useful to speak to people who have already succeeded in their professions. Asking them to assess your skills helps to position who you are and what you have to do to progress your business. The key is to understand what role you are suited to.Once this is defined, you can then build a team. Everyone has to play to their skills. 2. A clear strategy Blue Sky Financial Planning An emotional attachment to managing money is essential to ensure that your money outlasts you, but perhaps more importantly you enjoy your money whilst you have your health. Blue Sky Financial Planning works with individuals, families and companies aiming to make a real difference to their lives. People are restricted by their own experiences. Listen to others but don’t listen to everyone, it is easy to be distracted by what others want you to do. Many individuals have their own agenda to steer you off path. Follow your beliefs with conviction and stick to it. 3. Be innovative Understand what separates you from everyone in your industry. Someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger but they will never be you. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain so find your place and be a bit different when delivering your message.
  8. 8. Ianthe Slinger 1. Finish each day and be done with it! We can only do our best, if we give 100% during a working day it is then imperative to ‘switch off’ at the end of it. wIt is very important to learn to be satisfied with your best, remember good is good enough. Take the task in hand, focus on what needs to be done, give everything you can and then remember you have a life outside the workplace. 2. Don’t let anyone dampen your spirit There will always be others who will be jealous of you. Don’t allow anyone to dim your shine because they feel blinded by it. Always remember who you are. There will be others who pass judgement and look to knock you off course. The solution is to operate with conviction, always play fair and never compare yourself with others. 3. Don’t change even if the world changes around you Letchers The world conspires to change us and it will look to alter you. Always value who you are, what you believe in and never compromise on that an inch. Remember that hard times come for a reason and it’s what we learn from them that really counts. Always be real! Letchers Solicitors is a family law expert based in the centre of Ringwood and Verwood, specializing in the financial implications of divorce.
  9. 9. Jeremy Priestley 1. It’s never too late to change Don’t feel pigeon-holed into an area of expertise you feel you have to follow for the wrong reasons. Perhaps your options don’t look as promising as once believed. It’s OK to change course - especially before you take on the major responsibilities of life. Everyone will forgive you if you make a mistake. You don’t have to be on the single-track your whole life. 2. Don’t limit yourself Make sure you have been exposed to other locations, to other cultures and to different people. If you spend your entire time in one place, you’ll have an introspective view of life. Move away from your comfort zone, shape the person you want to be – get out, travel, see the world, understand people and get on. Berkeleys Berkeleys Estate Agents – Canford Cliffs since 1991, specialising in the sales, letting and marketing of premium, residential properties. Our brand name stands for quality, a trusted reputation and personal service. 3. Experience life Don’t try to run before you can walk. Life will burden you with attachments and responsibilities soon enough and, if you let it, before you’ve allowed your character and business personality to flourish. There is plenty of time: don’t let yourself be weighed down before you’ve had the chance to grow.
  10. 10. John Corderoy 1. Learn and get on with it People mirror and mimic others, it’s important to experience life and to be yourself. Learn what to do and what not to do (as well as behaviour). Decisions will be shaped by what you learn. 2. Get to know as many people as you can Show an interest with those you come into contact with, these could be prospects that turn into good customers. A natural salesperson is constantly looking for adoption and acceptance; this is due to a fear of rejection. Being successful in business is not all about being ‘liked’, but earning respect and becoming trusted in your field of expertise. 3. Market yourself as a brand Ability is just as important as attitude. Recognise your strengths and play to them, this creates your own personal brand that reflects you and will be seen in the eyes of everyone else. It’s all about character, integrity, a down to earth approach and conducting yourself well with the people you meet. Breeze Volkswagen Breeze is a productive and forward thinking company, continually increasing brand awareness and workforce throughout the local community. Recently expanding to over five locations across the south, holding the Volkswagen franchise for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and TPS, Breeze is focused on business objectives and organisational growth.
  11. 11. Jonathan Sibbett sibbett gregory 1. Confidence to commit If you believe in yourself and what you can offer the marketplace, then do it. We can spend a lot of time thinking about our intentions but if you have the passion and belief, then there’s nothing to stop you. One of the biggest benefits in committing to what you want to achieve is that you can create your own culture and values. 2. Be productive and profitable Sibbett Gregory Founded in 1992, Sibbett Gregory has developed with a clear plan to provide a wide range of specialist property services across Dorset and beyond. In the early stages of your business’ life cycle, there is an inclination to be helpful to everyone. You can become all things to all people but this then becomes non-productive and your enthusiasm clouds your judgement. Learn to be more discerning and instinctive to run a profitable business. You have 24 hours in a day; it’s how you use it that matters. 3. Show enthusiasm Work hard, be enthusiastic for what you do and above all else, enjoy what you represent and stand for.
  12. 12. 1. Understand break-even In the corporate world, budgets predominate but when you start running your own business then working out break-evens becomes more important. Detailed understanding of when break-evens align with your cash flow projections can prevent; cash catastrophes, enable essential “exceptional” costs to be projected, maintain sales growth and reduce expensive borrowing. Lloyd Banks 2. Clear objectives isn’t enough Having your vision should be a “given” and, it’s good to have and communicate the vision you have to your people, your clients and suppliers. Do not overlook the numerous and diverse tasks and objectives that are needed to stay on track or to achieve the vision. What doesn’t get measured, rarely gets done, can’t be the focus for praise and can’t be used as a springboard for even greater achievement. 3. Post-acquisition When another owner sells their business to you, you can tear up what you read at due diligence stage concerning their opinions on the people they have left to you. Their comments are completely biased and it’s so much more important to form your own opinions. Invest time in these areas; understand your staff, their motivations, concerns and ideas, your customers as individuals and the specifics of the products or services your new business is selling. It’s tempting to prioritise new clients immediately and invest time there but investing time with existing staff will reduce client losses more effectively. Don’t make dramatic changes too quickly. Rubicon People Established in 1982 Rubicon People is a professional recruitment agency using innovative candidate recruitment and assessment methods to supply talented people into a wide range of successful UK businesses.
  13. 13. Mark Masters 1. Read, read, read The day I started reading more about business and specifically industry knowledge, the whole dynamic of business changed. If you can become a sponge and take in theory and understanding, this helps shape your own view where you have your own voice. If there is a good starting point, I would recommend Napoleon Hill’s ‘Think Grow Rich.’ It may be over 80 years old, but it’s still relevant in today’s world. 2. Stand for something If you blend in with the crowd, you don’t stand for anything. If the majority of people are doing one thing, go in the opposite direction. Because if you don’t someone else will, and in an ever more competitive world, not standing for something means losing. 3. Treat people as people The ID Group The ID Group is a creative marketing company specialising in making businesses the ‘go to’ companies in their sector. Use the same foundations you do to make friends. When we meet someone new in our personal lives, we don’t go guns blazing saying how great we are, we see how they fit into our way of behaviour through listening, conversing and ultimately, we like who they are and what they represent. This is exactly the same for building business relationships and creating a distinct personality.
  14. 14. Melissa Horne 1. Plan your team from an early stage When you start your business, invariably you do everything yourself. The key to growth is to plan and not worry about the immediate future. If you have a vision, you won’t be afraid to grow your business as you are thinking long term. Building a team into your plans with a variety of skill sets can reap rewards in the long term. 2. Strong business partnerships You can’t do everything yourself and using areas of expertise on a sub-contract basis such as, IT, book-keeping and marketing, allows a team to build and support outside of the office. It is all about building networks and trusted sources that have benefits for the business. 3. Loyalty to suppliers From building strong partnerships, this helps to solidify a working business relationship. If you stay with your suppliers, they will help you out one day, when you need them most. If you stick together, you go forward. Jigsaw Interior Design Specialising in interior design for residential, commercial and show homes, Poole based Jigsaw Interior Design balance form with functionality.
  15. 15. Mike Crocker 1. Know strengths, acknowledge weaknesses If you’re working as a partnership, and you want a carbon copy of you (values, work ethic, beliefs), it is never going to work. Nobody knows everything, which is why it is good to understand the skill sets realised to bridge the gaps in the business’ development. Know what you’re good at and understand where your flaws lie. 2. Love your work Bulpitt Crocker Proactive, personalised and qualified support to local business owners and individuals, covering a broad range of business sectors. Extensive experience within accountancy, taxation and business development, with many specialist resources. Be passionate and enjoy what you do but always find a balance. It is easy to convince yourself to work hard, so find time for yourself and others around you. We can’t be everything to everyone. We have to learn to switch off, the perception is that customers think more of you if you are constantly available, which is wrong. If you don’t enjoy what you do, people will pick this up and it becomes transparent. 3. Nobody knows everything! Trust needs to be given to others that can add value to your business. You cannot control everything. Delegating tasks to trusted colleagues and associates helps to shape a rounded company profile.
  16. 16. Nigel Still 1. Appearance is important The world doesn’t owe you a living and it’s up to you to find your space within the marketplace. To create a strong impression, the right appearance and dressing smartly goes hand in hand with creating a professional character. Politeness and treating everyone with respect helps to build an all round professional aura. 2. Creating clients for life The business focus is not only about today, it is also about tomorrow if you want to be regarded as a respected business. You have to over-deliver in different ways to secure long-term contacts. A client can be for life, but it takes a lot of groundwork and there are no short cuts. Respect is earned by honesty, integrity and being transparent. 3. Accept technology Technology moves with any business. You have to research and invest to make a success and build a platform for your business. People are far less tolerant these days and response needs to be instant. Accepting technology allows you to embrace new ways of thinking and planning for the imminent future and publicity exposure for your business. Stephen Noble Stephen Noble have been recognised as one of the leading Estate and Land Agents in Bournemouth for over 20 years. Managing Director Nigel Still is recognised as an Expert Witness amongst professionals on Bournemouth apartment values with over 30 years experience.
  17. 17. Roger Woodall 1. Every person you meet is a contact Building your contact list presents opportunity in every direction. You never know when someone can help you out or become a valued customer. If you create a robust list of contacts, you are one call away from anyone who can add value to your business. You never know who you will meet during your journey. 2. Everyone is equal Always be yourself and treat everyone as an equal. Don’t feel intimidated by others and show integrity, be transparent and have a humble nature. That way, you build respect, by being honest and approachable. 3. Visualise what you need to get Diamond Sporting Group Diamond Sporting Group owns the following three brands - Bournemouth 7s Festival, Viper 10 Sportswear V10 Creative Agency. Set yourself a target for what you want to achieve and then visualise it. Seeing it for yourself allows massive focus. This then sets the precedent to achieving your goals and setting the bar high.
  18. 18. Russell Hamilton 1. Build slow steady Have a focus on where you are looking to take the business and control it. It is easy to get carried away from an early stage at how much turnover the business is making, but this doesn’t mean much until the money is in the bank. Profit is key to everything to help you grow, plan and organise. It doesn’t happen overnight, but keep a firm steer. 2. Be seen Your business needs to look reputable and credible and if your customers recognise this, you have built a brand perception. Being seen and visible around the community you are working within is valuable to your business. Get the car or van branded, even go as far as a personalised number plate. It is all about creating an image that others recognise. 3. Office location During the early days of your own business, it is fair to say that the spare bedroom becomes the main office. As soon as budget allows, invest in premises for the business. It may be an office it may be larger commercial premises, but having a base that is visible for customers and prospects to interact with helps build the company image. Visibility is key for all your efforts. Elite Signs Elite Signs designs and manufactures all types of signage in-house from vinyl graphics, printed signs, CNC routed signs, banners and illuminated retail signage.
  19. 19. Sharon Canning 1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes If you take risks, you have to be fearless, but ensure they are calculated risks, sometimes this may not result in the outcome that you want. If mistakes are made, always learn and reflect on what has been done and never let this happen again. Don’t be narrow- minded, be open to learn everyday and develop your skills. 2. Be a brilliant interviewer Move On Rentals Move On Rentals is an award finalist Letting Agency specialising in residential lettings throughout the whole of the Poole and Bournemouth area, including rooms and HMO’s for professional people. With half the staff being landlords, property is in good hands. Learn how to be a great interviewer to recruit. You need to have clarity in the type of person you want to join your team, listen to how people speak and how they interact and respond. Ask yourself, what do you want them to do with their role? Remember, any team member represents the business and building a rapport with prospects and customers. If you allocate the right people, you have a team for life. 3. A branded car from day one If you have a car, make the most of it as a costeffective advertising mechanism. Using vinyl’s is a cost-effective route that gets you seen and becomes your mobile ad space. You pay for it once and then it becomes free advertising for your business.
  20. 20. Steve Carter 1. Cash is key At an early stage of a business, keeping an eye on whether you are profitable or not can be the difference between sinking and swimming. There may be potential projects that when you look into the details, do not make the profit anticipated. A plethora of current projects may look good on paper but the old saying is always worth bearing in mind: “turnover is vanity, profit is sanity.” 2. Ongoing training Knowledge at an early stage helps to build confidence and comfort. Access to basic business training, most notably in accounting and sales, helps deliver the core skills and enough information to make you operate efficiently. Everyone knows what they’re good at but not necessarily the other areas of business they need to know about. 3. Market your business Digital Image Bureau You need to understand the principles of how to approach your market. What are the costs involved in building a dialogue with prospects and how to convert them into customers? Understanding your customer base and how to target is a vital element in growing and developing your business as a leader in your industry. Steve is a Chartered Designer and past president of Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce. His company, The Digital Image Bureau offers design and print services to clients throughout Dorset and beyond.
  21. 21. Steve Cook 1. If it feels wrong, it probably is Trusting your gut instinct can help you to make a clear decision. There will be times when a risky opportunity arises that could have the potential to be a massive deal, but on the flipside they could also be a dog. If it smells like a dog, it usually is a dog. 2. Recruit talent In running a business, you can become a compulsive perfectionist. Your heart and soul goes into this so you have every right to strive for the best. To be the best, you need to recruit talented people. Once you’ve got the flair on board, you don’t need to micro-manage. Mould them and let them grow into the culture of your business. Seeker Seeker publish a family of magazines for Dorset. During 2012 they launched the business and lifestyle magazine Seeker News and the sports title Seeker Sport. 3. Profit is everything A ledger full of large outstanding invoices can look reassuring, however high turnover can be deceptive. Is your cash flow OK? Are your overheads under control? Everything you do in your business must have the aim of increasing the bottom line. Profit is the key to a thriving business.
  22. 22. Steve Wells 1. Pay attention and learn As you get older, you get wiser. If there is a schooling that gives a business grounding, this is always a good place to start. Learning through work is where you are educated the best but learning the basics helps to build character and perception of the world. 2. Learn from others around you You have two ears and one mouth, use them wisely. You don’t have to, by any means take on board everything that others tell you. The skill is to dissect what’s important to you. Let opinion and learning shape you as well providing guidance and use this to your own advantage. 3. Goal-setting DWP Housing Partnership It is easy to let one week meander into the other by not setting any targets and basically, staying afloat. Setting short term and long term goals helps to set realistic objectives. This also allows you to set a balance between your professional and personal life. Prioritise what is important and the opportunity it possesses and pursue it. Since our openings in 1985 DWP Housing Partnerships (with close to 3,000 units) has been providing good quality affordable accommodation. Offering the widest choice of homes and business premises to rent in Dorset.
  23. 23. The concept and interviews for this book is from The ID Group. www.theidgroup.co.uk Tel: 01202 557458 Email: mark@theidgroup.co.uk @heyidgroup /heyidgroup
  24. 24. £ www.theidgroup.co.uk