Victoria Beckham may not spring to mind when you think of start up advice (although as a highly respected fashion designer she most certainly is), but her description of running a small business couldn’t be more accurate: “I wake up every morning and I feel like I’m juggling glass balls.”
Almost every small business owner feels like they’re trying to keep their balls in the air (or plates spinning). In fact, most have very little time left to think about how they can do things better.
Here’s some of the best start up advice from the UK’s top entrepreneurs:
- Look after your people and they’ll look after you
Kevin Byrne, founder and CEO of Checkatrade
“It’s a cliché, but my business is my people, and we grow and thrive based on how effectively we can keep them. Treating people right has been the key to Checkatrade’s success. I do this by personally getting to know all my staff – I sit with all new joiners for an hour and a half when they arrive – purely so we can share ideas and aspirations. I listen to what staff want. We have a staff panel that suggests ideas for making things better, and from this I’ve created breakout rooms, provided a kitchen, and even put in a pool table. I also back up be personal with great perks. We shut down completely at Christmas, so staff don’t need to use their holiday entitlement to have time off. Also, every member of staff gets £150 each year to spend as they like.”
- Delegation is what you need
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin
“Anyone who wants to launch a business should have a solid understanding of what he’s good at and what he’s passionate about. Knowing this will help you to achieve your goals more quickly. A common perception about entrepreneurs is that, like artists, they work alone. Many people think successful business people have overcome challenges and brought ideas to the marketplace through sheer force of personality. But that’s a fairy tale! When I try a new task and find it’s not my cup of tea, or I’m simply not cut out to do it, I delegate it to someone who is passionate about the work. For instance, I was never very good with numbers. In my early days, after trying my hardest to manage the books, I finally hired an accountant, Jack Clayden. My friends and I wouldn’t have gotten our business off the ground without Jack. From our experience working with him, we learned that if we really wanted to grow our business, we’d have to delegate.”
- Persistence is key
Vashi Dominguez, CEO, Vashi.com (the UK’s largest online diamond retailer)
“I firmly believe your character dictates how far you get in life. My character is persistence – I was brought up well, told that life is how you deal with the circumstances you’re presented with, and so I never once thought of giving up when trying to break into the difficult diamond business. But I knew that to get further, I needed to study business, and read more. While it’s true you tend to look for the things you agree with, I sincerely believe the books I’ve read have polished me into what I am now.”
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