Inspiring Entrepreneurs – Surviving and thriving: controlling costs to boost your business

Another inspiring Inspiring Entrepreneurs event this evening with the title of Surviving and Thriving: Controlling costs to boost your business. You can catch the webcast of the event once it is posted up on our website.

Doug Richards the former BBC Dragon and founder of the School for Startups started by saying he wouldn’t be able to keep to his script. He had some great stories and a few gems such as, ‘if you are small, you will die if one customer doesn’t pay your bills’.

In other words the micro immediate level is the key, not what is happening to the economy at the macro level.

Forget convential wisdom, sales are marketing are the key – not cash flow. With sales – take the order, whatever it is! Don’t start a business with Kent Richards…(Doug’s brother, who he started his first business with).

Marketing – don’t spend money – Doug has an eight hour training day covering marketing techniques that don’t cost any money.

Nick WheelerNick Wheeler the founder of Charles Tyrwhitt shirts gave a very entertaining talk. He founded the business at University in 1986, and it took four years to double workforce from one to two. After another fours in they went bust.

‘This is the story of how a complete and utter idiot can build up a business.’

‘It’s all about having a belief in what you are trying to do. Every day you remind yourself of what you are setting out to do.’

84% of Charles Tyrwhitt staff say they have fun working for the company.

Critical Factors for Success:
The idea – Vision – Focus – Passion – Hard work – Patience

Compound growth is the key to long term success.

Heather Gorringe the founder of Wiggly Wigglers started with quote from Winston Churchill, ‘Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm’.

If you are running a small business you need to be both proactive and reactive. The key thing she is doing to survive the economic downturn is to ‘keep working harder’.

Johnny Martin is a business finance expert who runs a regular course in the Business & IP Centre on financial management.

Imagine you are in the Dragon’s Den – how would you answer their questions about your business finances?

He feels you can’t start too young, and gets his children to use duplicate invoice books in order to receive their pocket money via their PayPal account.

The second most common reason for businesses failing is poor financial management.

Documentation can be the undoing of a business. Please check if you have any undocumented agreements.

You need to know where you are financially.

Be able to look ahead (at least six to nine months). Don’t go for financial support at the last minute, you won’t get it. Use forecasting techniques.

Be able to understand the difference between variable costs and fixed costs, and how to calculate your gross profit and gross margin. To survive in these difficult times you need to protect your gross margin (the value you are adding).

Turnover is vanity, what is important is profit.

The presentations were followed by a varied set of questions:

What happens when a business fails?
The main cause is lack of focus. Manager think they can do anything and fail when they diversify beyond their competencies.

How should businesses use the web to market the products:
Google Adwords are the place to start. Find the right company to help you navigate your way for very little money. Big companies are getting ripped off. Doug Richards – Search Engine Optimisation is not rocket science. You can spend a boring weekend learning enough to know what you are doing.

Heather Gorringe – the web is a bit like your local pub – whether you are there or not people may be talking about you – online is the same – you need to be there to listen and respond to your customers.


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