Debate: Moving up the gears

How do you make the successful transition from a start-up business to one that’s going places? That was the question we asked our panel, brought together at the offices of Bespoke Digital with Boost Business Lancashire; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub.

Debate Moving up the gears

PRESENT: Ged Henderson ~ Chair • Steve Brennan ~ Bespoke Digital • Natalie Smith ~ CR Services NW • Rafik Adam ~ Enterprise4All • Tom Havlin ~ GetStaffed • Sue Denver ~ Growth Lancashire • Darren Mills ~ IT Works Resources • Simon Milnes ~ Lancs Lock-In • Anthony Smith ~ Lantei • Andrew Leeming ~ Boost Business Lancashire


How do you change gears to get from a start-up to a growing business?

Darren Mills: Just go for it. As you evolve from a start-up to a business that actually is going places, it’s about measuring everything you do.

Measure every KPI so you can look back and benchmark where you were and where you are going to. Also, you can’t get there on your own. It is about investing in the right people.

Anthony Smith: There’s no hard and fast formula. As you grow to a certain level, things become more professional. Your first million is the hardest you’re ever going to make and after that keeping hold of it is the task.

Nobody teaches you how to handle a marriage, bring up children or run a business. It is trial and error and only through failure do you find the necessary ingredients to be able to move forward to succeed.

To be able to get to that next level you have to have the passion, the drive and the ambition, determination and perseverance.

When you get to there, it’s keeping and  retaining the fundamental lessons which have made you successful.

Tom Havlin: We’re 18 months in and it’s been a challenge. As Anthony said there is no formula to it. As a founder it is important that you can wear every single hat and take up every role necessary to begin with, until the time is right and you can pass the baton on.

When you do, pass it to somebody who has a higher skill set than you. Don’t be afraid to recruit people that are smarter than you, get extra skills that you need.

And be persistent - when we haven’t got things right, we keep on going until we find a formula that works.

Natalie Smith: As you grow keep going back to why you set up in the first place and the ideas that you had - and don’t cut any corners.

SB: Recruitment is important. We’ve had to learn how to hire and manage.

Anthony Smith: You recruit for attitude and not for skill. If they’ve got a great attitude they can become the sort of person that embodies your vision.

Rafik Adam: Search for people with better skill sets than you and don’t be fearful of employing them. Learn from them and grow the business by having them onside with you.

Also look at what it is you plan to do. If you’re driving a car, the windscreen is bigger than the rear view mirror. Keep an eye on where you’ve been because that’s clearly important, but you’ve got to look where you’re going and take everyone with you as well.

Simon Milnes: We’re a very young business but we’ve already had to go out and recruit.

And it was all about the attitude of the two people we’ve taken on. They didn’t know much about the business we are in, which is fine, I can teach them all that.

Andrew Leeming: One of the things that we do really badly, not only in Lancashire but across the whole UK, is to talk-up what we’re good at.

Part of what Boost should be about is how we capture the passion that businesses have for their own operations.

We should be celebrating and amplifying that. We should be encouraging people to be brilliant. The key things are the ‘three Ps’: passion, perseverance and people.