You are a budding entrepreneur with a great idea and you think it could be turned into a profitable business. However, turning an idea into something tangible is a challenging task and not something achieved with a click of the fingers.
Rupert Lee-Browne, CEO of currency company Caxton FX, found himself in exactly the same position 10 years ago. But Lee-Browne has since turned Caxton FX, which started life as one man, a phone and £25,000, into a successful company that today employs more than 60 people, with an annual turnover of more than £550m.
“Setting up a business from scratch has definitely been a challenge but over the past decade I have relished each and every moment,” says Lee-Browne.
“The successful entrepreneur has to have an original idea that can make money but at the same time, you have to be relentless in everything you do and be prepared for some late nights – without the effort there will be no success.”
Lee-Browne has since listed some of his top tips to aspiring entrepreneurs that will hopefully help towards growing your business:
Get your finances right
If you’ve ever watched an episode of The Apprentice
or Dragons Den
, you’ll know that having a firm grasp on your finances is a must for any business, whatever size your company is. Every entrepreneur should be reminded of the following principal: what you earn, dictates what you can spend. So if you don’t know your finances from the off, you’d better hit the books.
Knowledge is power
The budding entrepreneur has to have a great idea but without the right research or a comprehensive business plan behind you, then you can only go so far. It is therefore absolutely vital that you get up to speed with all the aspects of your business and more importantly, if you don’t understand your finances this could kill your business. But don’t think you can get complacent once you have started to grow your business, so make sure you learn, learn and then learn some more.
The customer always knows best
Whether you are a currency company, like Caxton FX, or the owner of a boutique shop, you rely on your customers. It is therefore vital you learn the simple mantra: the customer is always right
. Always put the customers first and if they are happy, everything else will follow.
Dedication is what you need
For those of you who remember Record Breakers
with the late Roy Castle
, the theme tune to the programme included the lyrics: “dedication is what you need”. This phrase is not the preserve of world record breakers but should be adopted as a key maxim by any business that’s just starting out. If you put in the leg-work and the long hours into a fledgling business then the rewards will eventually come to you.
In it for the long haul
Get rich quick schemes
are the preserve of fictional characters such as Only Fools’ Dell Boy. The reality is a different picture altogether as any entrepreneur will tell you that any successful business takes a considerable amount of effort. Therefore when you begin your enterprise you need to plan a long-term outlook and prepared to stick with it through the good and bad times.
Hire the right staff
Once you’re in a position to start hiring, it is important you employ the right type of people. You might not be an expert interviewer but you must be able to explain your vision and how the interviewee is going to help you achieve it. The ideal candidate will be able to grasp what the business is all about and while they will need a general direction about what to do, you don’t want to micromanage them. Why not consider psychometric tests so can get a real idea of what potential staff are going to be like – there’s a reason why the big companies use them – and once you have picked your new staff members it is also important that they receive a comprehensive induction.
Hang on to what you’ve got
It is an absolute imperative that you are able to maintain a hold of your company’s equity as this mean you will retain control of your business. Also avoid giving personal guarantees because if you cannot deliver, it will affect your personal reputation.
Beating the banks at their own game
Gaining access to credit is a big issue at the moment and the banks are under the spotlight to provide finance to SMEs
. However, the banks are under pressure to keep a certain level of liquidity and this has seen the majority of lenders adopt conservative lending policies, with SMEs being the biggest losers. But there is another way of securing finance and two routes you can consider is peer-to-peer lending or issuing a retail bond. Peer-to-peer lending
involves a transaction between two private entities, without the need to involve an intermediary, such as a bank. Retail bonds on the other hand involve asking a wide range of investors if they would lend a small sum to your company for a set period with a fixed interest rate in return. Importantly, there is no sacrifice of equity to an external investor, leaving you with full control of your business.
Rupert Lee-Browne added: “Of course I am pleased with what Caxton FX has achieved and where we’re going. But at the same time there’s still a lot more that we could be doing and as long as the mountain is beyond reaching distance, I will continue to drive Caxton FX forward.”