Top tips for business success

4 min read
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To mark the start of the new decade, QuickBooks collaborated with The Times to host a roundtable with eight inspiring people from the world of business and entrepreneurship.

We asked them to tell us what it means to run a business in the UK today.

They told us the thrills and challenges of starting, growing and sustaining their businesses. From navigating regulation, to finding customers, following their principles, or hiring new staff on to the payroll – the list was almost endless.

Below are some of the most impactful things our small business owners told us.

But don’t forget the most important thing.

Success comes in many different forms.

At the roundtable was everyone from owners of small businesses looking to get their first non-family member on the payroll to The Apprentice finalists. People turning their passion into a business to serial entrepreneurs and founders of some of Britain’s most-loved brands.

Whichever category you fit into – or none – we hope you find something inspiring in their words. We certainly did.

Starting out

Claire Young, The Apprentice finalist and co-founder of School Speakers

Some people find it a learning curve, but for me it was like a learning cliff. As an employee, you know a lot about a little, but when you run a business, suddenly you need to know a little about everything and you are just thrown in. Those people who can survive, fly.

Pip Murray, Founder of Pip and Nut

When looking to grow your business, having access to other people’s expertise is vital. You eventually reach a tipping point where other skill sets than your own are needed and contractors can’t provide the in-depth quality of work that you need. When looking to make your first hire, you really need to think about where you need to add value.

Lyndsey Simpson, CEO of The Curve Group

Business is a bit like a game of Snakes and Ladders. Sometimes you pick up a massive customer win and that takes you two rungs up on the ladder to a different scale of business, and then a piece of legislation comes in, like IR35 or GDPR, that derails you and take you back 18 months. If you think of it as being on this playing board of Snakes and Ladders, then you don’t take each of these snakes as a defining moment.

James Averdieck, Founder of Gü

I think that one of the biggest barriers, versus America, is the kind of stigma of failure. Actually if we could just fail early, as they say, and then use that experience to move on to something else, then that’s almost a badge of honour as well.

Growing the business and bringing employees on the payroll

John Waddy, Founder of Kentish Soap Company

There is an emotional decision in taking on a permanent employee because there is a responsibility for that person. There is an obligation on us to make sure the company is sustainable, and the business is sustainable, and these people have got good jobs. But on the other side to that, there is a worry about simple things like IP. We have our product recipes to protect.

Paula de Lao, Founder of Union Station Yoga

We have about 20 to 30 freelancers on our team because we hire yoga teachers, so they are all freelancers. The admin that comes with taking invoices and following up on invoices and all of that is huge. So, for us to grow the business I need my manager who is currently managing the studio to be focused on growth versus admin and payroll and chasing people for invoices.

Roni Savage, Founder of Jomas Associates

We are actually employing to deal with the Brexit uncertainty. I am taking on a Business Development Manager to help raise the profile of the business even further. My clients are in the construction industry, so there’s always going to be a demand for homes and schools and offices, but some developers may drop off. So, what we are trying to do is spread our wings a bit and raise a pool of clients.

Pauline Green, Payroll Lead, QuickBooks

We are told that the generations coming through now, they expect slightly different. They expect more of a project or a mission-based, rather than, from a company you know, they want that flexible working. The future employment area is actually changing, and it will be more dynamic.

Whatever your situation, get the right software in place, and free your time to focus on running your business. Whether it’s your first or fiftieth employee, QuickBooks Payroll is packed with features that take the hassle out of managing payroll.

If you haven’t yet explored what QuickBooks can do for you, visit to find out more.


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