In a rare insight into what makes a successful business, Insider asked some of the UK leading entrepreneurs for their top tips for true entrepreneurial growth.
1-Prepare to start a business. Save some money, clear your debts and cut back on non-essential expenses to give your new business the best chance of success. Make sure you also have the support of your family.
2-If you want to run your own business, do it! Start by running your own business in your spare time, so you can try out your idea without giving everything up.
3-If you are not comfortable with work totally taking over your world, then self-employment just isn’t for you.
4-A strong self belief, almost bordering on delusion, is a pre-requisite.
5-Be prepared to work harder than you've ever done before.
6-You must have a burning passion for your business, a passion that stops you from sleeping and that helps you develop a successful vision.
7-Very few people get to the top via short circuiting the system. Greatness requires an inordinate amount of time.
8-It costs nothing to get out there and get your business off the ground. If you believe in it then you can sell it, so go and do it.
9-If you didn’t learn to beg and borrow as a child and have a cheeky face, business success could be tricky.
10-Choose an industry or product that you feel passionate about. By doing so, you’ll naturally invest far more in its success.
11-It's all about doing the obvious before it becomes obvious to everyone else.
12-Know the market you are in and have the vision to look into the future of that market.
13-Set your business up with a purpose. This will help people buy into what you want to achieve and they will help to promote you.
14-Don’t wait for the one big idea – success often comes from 1,000 small improvements, which can be started today.
15-If you have to spend too long thinking about it, it’s not right: it should jump out and smack you in the kisser.
16-Work seven days while others are working five. Remember the only thing you get for free when you start a new business is your own time.
17-Naivety can be your biggest asset. It can push you along and break down obstacles.
18-Read about how other successful people achieved their success.
19-When you start, call in favours and keep in contact with people. Network like hell! Friends and business contacts will want you to succeed.
20-Get yourself a hang glider: a mentor who can hold your hand, overcome inexperience with good advice.
21-A mentor is an important person in giving feedback and ensures the business remains focused and challenged.
22-Never be too proud to listen to other people’s experience as it will save you loads of time and money.
23-Take the advice of anyone and everyone around you but never steer from your gut instinct when starting.
24-Never stop learning. Take on the advice and experience of those around you and always push yourself to be at the forefront of your industry.
25-Don't be afraid to change your mind if others have better suggestions.
26-Do what you think is right. No-one in the world knows what you know or has the experience you have.
27-Learn to observe; great entrepreneurs get inspiration by observing.
28-Stick to your knitting. It is very easy to lose sight of your goal and dilute your effort as the next great idea comes along.
29-If you don’t stand out, forget it. Commercial success is perfectly correlated with differentiation.
30-Craft a killer strategy to ensure that your business is differentiated among the competition.
31-Create a clear strategic business plan. This way you will be prepared for the worst.
32-You must constantly look to differentiate yourself from the competition. You must always aim to improve your product and the service you offer.
33-Develop a business plan that is realistic and sells your idea, your USP.
34-Execute, execute, execute that strategy.
35-Look at your proposition from the outside in and not the inside out. Don’t ask customers, use your gut instinct.
36-Embrace technology – small start-ups can access global opportunities like never before.
37-Follow the golden rules. Don’t sleep with the pay role and don’t employ friends – it’s always said, but it is true.
38-Thew majority of new businesses fail due to poor execution of the business idea. Do not underestimate the operating costs of your business.
39-Don’t compete on price. Instead, look to add value to your customer so you can sell at a higher price.
40-Cash is king. A lot of businesses fail because they run out of cash, not because they are bad businesses. Sometimes you have to say no to more orders, or obtain additional funding.
41-Bill early, bill often. If you can get some work done and billed quickly, you will need to borrow less cash.
42-Understand finance. Whatever the business, it is a fundamentally what drives the business forward.
43-A buyer or a seller? Most successful entrepreneurs love making money. Many of them hate (or at least find it difficult) to spend it.
44-Remember, a penny saved is a penny earned. Be hard but fair with your suppliers and fight for the best deal.
45-Profit is good, cash is king – when setting out ensure that you can see how it will be funded, even if and when things go wrong.
46-Always keep your eye on cash. Even if you’re not great at the finances, get to grips with dynamics of your cash flow.
47-Don’t be afraid to ask for your money. If you have a customer who you are unsure about, ask for pre-payment. Remember it’s not the business you do, it’s the business you don’t do that counts.
48-Never take your eye off the cash and really understand the working capital drivers.
49-Cash is important and it’s surprising how often people forget to manage it.
50-Think outside the box, for example, when making acquisitions we have sometimes paid the vendors in instalments.
51-Pay your bills on time, including taxes, and if you can’t pay on time, tell your creditors what you are going to do.
52-Being in business is about making as much profit as possible. If instinctively this feels “immoral”, then running a successful business is probably not going to be your forte.
53-Save for a rainy day. I would always recommend hanging on to some profits so you can weather storms.
54-Get professional advice. Be clear about your skills and expertise, and honest about where you should get professional advice.
55-Plan for the divorce. If you go into a partnership, always have an agreement drawn up.
56-Never, ever go into business with someone you don't like or trust. Even nice people can turn nasty when money is involved.
57-Go into business with some people you trust dearly and on an equal footing. They will be there to pick you up when you fall down.
58-Focus on culture and leadership development.
59-Delegate! Recruit people you can trust and allow them to bring new elements to your business. If you refuse to let go, you will stunt your company’s growth.
60-Recruit only the best.
61-Make sure you have said hello to the whole workforce before you start work, they often have innovative ideas.
62-Recruit people better than you, you don’t want to lead a mediocre team.
63-Never be afraid of your weaknesses. Surround yourself with the right people and team to plug your own downfalls. This will allow your strengths to shine.
64-Implement a system of FIFO: Fit In or F-Off! Give everyone the encouragement and opportunity to comply but, if they disrupt your business, get rid.
65-Engage colleagues in company decisions wherever possible. It will ensure staff loyalty.
66-Trust your team. Most of the time your faith will be repaid.
67-Tell the workforce everything and keep them constantly updated. This will smash the rumours and grapevines.
68-Having the right team and support allows the business to grow faster. Never be afraid to ask for help and never be afraid to be wrong.
69-You must build up a good team. You can be a good leader, but everyone must be on the bus and going in the same direction.
70-Trust your team and empower them. If they mess up once give them a chance; if they mess up twice then let them go.
71-Catching people doing things right and saying “thank you” costs nothing, but gives huge motivational benefits.
72-Work smart and don’t be afraid to charge a fair amount for your expertise and time. If you get this wrong you will end up being a busy fool.
73-Hold a 30-minute stand up meeting each morning at which information is exchanged and decisions made. Remove all meetings where decisions are not made.
74-If you get the right people, hang on to them and develop them.
75-Build a strong brand that people trust. You need to make sure that your company is doing everything it can to earn and keep their trust.
76-Be memorable -but the moustache and ponytail is my trademark.
77-Have a clear proposition that meets a need and is different from others. If you must be “me too”, on brand and service, not price – why would you want to be the cheapest?
78-Don’t be afraid to reduce the size of your potential customer base or market in order that you can know your customers better.
79-Talk to your customers. It’s important that you listen to feedback, but even more important that you act on it.
80-Think like your customer. Learn to understand their needs and then cater your offering to suit.
81-Remember that the better defined your customer base is, the easier it is to add value to them.
82-Align your business systems to give your customers real emotional value.
83-Stay very close to your customers. It ensures that you really know what's happening, which ensures good decisions.
84-Work on trying to get your customers to become your brand advocates. This is done by exceeding the expectations of customers.
85-Be generous with your time, advice and money. Whatever you do will multiply and eventually come back to you.
86-Build a strong relationship with your suppliers. If you don’t have a deep understanding, you will struggle.
87-Don’t give up. Business is about hard work, long hours and coping with the knocks. Very little is about luck.
88-Be persistent – never, never, never give up. I have stuck to my guns and succeeded.
89-Believe in yourself. Never let anyone say you can’t do it.
90-Be resilient, endure and survive. When you start for yourself, the highs are high and the lows are low.
91-Running your own business is a high risk adventure. It requires you to invoke qualities and skills you do not know you possess. You must have a strong belief.
92-Have the passion to see the seeds of an idea grow and flourish into a successful business.
93-A sense of humour, thick skin and the ability to continually pick yourself up, dust yourself down and keep charging forward is essential.
94-You won’t avoid pitfalls – you are bound to fall into a pit if you are taking risks. The trick is to learn from the mistakes and not repeat them.
95-Learn to adapt. The only thign to be uncertain about is uncertainty.
96-Adapt and evolve as you go, but at least set off. Get on with it and just do it.
97-Look for opportunities. There are opportunities in every market, even a recession. You just have to search hard to find them.
98-Stick to your ethics. You want your business to be around for a very long time and reputation is incredibly important.
99-Play it straight. Duck and dive if you must, but draw your moral line in the sand and don’t cross it.
100-Be honest: you can only lie to someone once. The suggestion that you have to be devious to succeed in business is a myth.
101-Advice is probably wasted on budding entrepreneurs as they rarely take it and they think they know best.