Learning to fail, in order to succeed

When you start in business you imagine a tough time to begin with, long hours, not too much reward, meetings with bank managers, lawyers, accountants and hopefully business development meetings with clients, then after a relatively short time you think you’ll establish a level of turnover that you’re happy with and life will start to gradually calm down.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way it was supposed to, and anyway doesn’t that sound a little boring?

For a start that level of turnover you thought you’d be happy with is a very moveable feast, as your turnover increases so do your outgoings, and trying to keep a lid on costs becomes tricky when a business is growing.

Then you find you need to employ people, and the ever increasing burden of compliance and HMRC raises it’s head.  Just as you establish a nice level of business your first brick wall arrives.  Do you cut costs to increase margins or try to win more business to increase your turnover?  If you’re an accountant you’ll go for the cost option every time, but not many accountants are also successful entrepreneurs, so you’ll probably chase more turnover, quite right too, that’s the only way to grow your business.

It’s the adrenaline fuelled lung bursting dash for the line that we as entrepreneurs crave, but  sometimes it feels like you’re going up a downward escalator, and for every step you climb you go back two!

Once you start to understand this phenomenon you’d expect it would get easier, but there always seems to be another lesson to be learnt, another step to climb, for instance, you’re finally making a reasonably decent margin and your turnover is looking healthy, your accountant tells you everything is looking rosy (never a good sign) and out of the blue you’re biggest client suffers a catastrophe, absolutely nothing to do with you and yet you realise far too late, that more than half of your business is with a single organisation!

It’s obvious with hindsight, and in business there’s always plenty of people with 20-20 hindsight vision to tell you how you should’ve done things differently.

Next comes new legislation, it seems that over the last 20 years or so various UK governments of different political persuasions and the EU have simply loved to pile on the red tape.  Employee rights, which for large organisations have very little impact can be an incredible burden to smaller businesses, tax rules which mean everything is in real time, and yet large clients still want to take 90 days to pay an invoice, intermediaries who act on behalf of local authorities and try to squeeze every bit of profit you make.

It really seems that entrepreneurs have an invisible target on their back sometimes!

So why do we do it?  Many entrepreneurs and business owners are quite simply unemployable, we’ve done things our own way for so long that the thought of doing someone else’s bidding is quite simply, well unthinkable!


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About Me

Small businesses make up the vast majority of the UK economy, we employ more people, generate more tax revenues and create more wealth than the rest of the UK economy put together.

All businesses need a little help from time to time, that maybe the oversight of a Non Executive Director, or an interim manager who offers help and support at a time of need or crisis or simply an outside eye to offer support and pracical advice at regular intervals.

I've been involved in small and medium-sized businesses for over 30 years. My first career was in the Hospitality sector, I then moved into temporary healthcare staffing, healthcare provision and finally international recruitment.

I've been involved in businesses that experienced extraordinary growth, and stagnation. Both can be problematic and need management, different styles of management, but management none the less.

Many issues draw a business owner away from their primary role; to strategise, to ensure success and make sure the business is still trading a year from now. Often, that re-focusing requires an outside eye, that's where a good business adviser is invaluable.

I offer practical no-nonsense advice and support. I can't honestly say I've seen every eventuality that a business may encounter, I don't believe anyone can, however when times get difficult, as they do in all businesses, it's good to have someone you can call on who's prepared to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in.