Ellen’s 5 top tips for creating and growing a business!
Advice for Entrepreneurs starting-up and growing a company
The best bit of advice I would give for anyone wanting to start up and grow a business is....
1) Learn to love rejection!
There is plenty of it and if you’re going to succeed in business you must learn to react positively to even the most negative situations. It’s tough and it’s lonely, but being persistent and not letting negativity get you down will pay dividends in the future (literally!).
2) Ask for Help
Listening to and taking as much advice as possible, from trusted advisors and mentors can help you succeed. I have an amazing Non-Executive Director who joined Blue Badge Co September 2014. Phil Zeilder is a serial financial services entrepreneur, setting up and managing many successful businesses. The most recent was Junction, delivering general insurance products on behalf of major brands. In five years from set up, the business turned over £1/3 billion and led the sector in outsourced personal lines insurance provision. Phil was an original shareholder in Power Amp Music, where we met in 2007 when I was employed as Business Manager. With a wealth of business experience and contacts Phil is an invaluable advisor and mentor to me and the business.
Blue Badge Co have also collaboration with the UWE Applied Marketing Group and for the past 8 months the marketing team at Blue Badge Co have been working with Professor of Marketing Tim Hughes. With his consultancy we have developed and maintained relationships with marketing agencies to integrate their resources and capabilities with the limited resources of Blue Badge Co. Developing awareness of the brand using digital and conventional channels and creating meaningful and creative campaigns to directly engage our customers.
If you’re looking for advice and collaborators to help you with your business, join networking groups, contact the university and be open to taking advice. Sounds simple right? You’ be surprised how many people find it hard!
3) Watch Your Cash
One of the most difficult issues for small business’ is the dreaded Cashflow! We have to pay for labour and components months before they are sold as finished goods and even when they are sold, we are sometimes waiting up to 90 days for payment.
Our bank HSBC have been really supportive and we have both a business loan and an overdraft. I think that for any small business trying to grow cashflow is always going to be problematic, however there are many great ways to secure funding these days, from online loan platforms such as Funding Circle to crowd funding options, it’s certainly worth shopping around and finding a cashflow solution that keeps you going!
4) Build Your Team
I really believe that a company is only as strong as the team behind it. We are very lucky that we have an engaged and, very importantly, flexible work force which has helped us be scalable. We have 13 staff on payroll and another 6 out workers. The majority of our employees are doing basic assembly of component parts, most of which is paid via piecework and can be done from their homes. Piecework means workers get paid a fixed amount for each unit they produce meaning workers can manage their own time and work at their own pace. Because we manufacture in this way, we can provide jobs and training for those with limited work options, like people who have domestic responsibilities or disabilities.
We passionately believe in supporting people with learning disabilities, mental health issues, physical disabilities and long term health issues. We also believe that people with disabilities make excellent employees. We are dedicated to directly employing disabled people; around 40% of our workforce has either a disability or is a primary care giver.My team motivates me more than anything else. I have a responsibility to them to be an inspirational manager and dependable leader. Without the team, there is no business and we encourage and inspire each other daily.
5) Ask Yourself Why?
Setting up and running a business is really difficult, and no-one should be under any illusions that it isn't. However, the one thing that has driven me the most is the idea that business has a responsibility to be good for society and I’ve have discovered that a rewarding, sustainable job can change someone’s life, mine included! –I’ve seen it first hand and it’s the part of my company that I am most proud of.