Any other business

Building a successful business: Why entrepreneurship is worth persevering with

6 min read

11 November 2015

Former editor

There are many rewards to being an entrepreneur, from seeing ideas you are passionate about come to life, to controlling your working hours and financial benefits, which is why so many people in the UK become their own boss – or have the ambition to do so. Of course inspiration and passion on their own are not enough and success in your own venture is not a foregone conclusion.

In association with American Express.


So it’s encouraging to know that a survey of 500 small firms across Britain has painted a buoyant picture of business prospects with 88 per cent of companies reporting growth – twice as many as in 2014 (43 per cent)*. The number of small businesses achieving “significant growth” (of 11 per cent or more) has also increased three-fold from 13 per cent to 49 per cent in 2015, according to the findings of the American Express® Small Business Barometer.

While revenue growth is important and might be regarded as the traditional measure of performance, the survey found that nowadays, satisfied customers, a sense of personal fulfilment and a better work/life balance are the top three personal definitions of business success.

So what does “success” look like for today’s entrepreneurs? Real Business spoke to a number of small business owners to uncover how they perceive and measure success in their own businesses.

EverythingBranded.co.uk founder Paul Rowlett and his wife Jennifer, who now runs the business, measures its success by staff retention – securing and retaining top talent. Only two members of staff have chosen to leave the now 18 strong team since they started the branded promotional products and corporate gifts business five years ago. Paul attributes this to incentivisation of staff, paying them well at the end of each month and by playing a part in their development. “It’s really satisfying to help people achieve their personal goals,” he said – a pertinent comment considering after being in the Navy for five years, he found himself unemployed for a time, before setting himself up in business.

Entrepreneur Moji Rezvani, who owns a number of shoe shops and also has an online presence, said he enjoys the perks being an entrepreneur brings, but preferred to focus on his team when discussing what makes his business a success.

“I have a fantastic team, and they grow day by day. I have some who have spent 15 years working here, and came up from the sales floor like I did,” he explained. Rezvani describes his natural strengths as creativity, trend spotting and business vision. The reason entrepreneurship is worth persevering with, for him, is that it provides no limits on what he can achieve.

“There are tough times, but these are outweighed by the self-satisfaction of seeing the company grow,” he added. Rezvani set up Scorpion Shoes in 1998 and has gone from being in the red, to running a successful business with a seven figure turnover today.

For Lynn and Colin Offord, who run Eastbourne-based family business Lynns Travel, their ability to have a greater work/life balance is how they measure success. Although the couple can both work 40-hour weeks, providing day excursions, short breaks and holidays by coach, their business provides them with the flexibility to work the hours around other priorities. Living above the shop also helps when it comes to organising their work and social plans.

Running a successful business has meant Lynn and Colin have been able to purchase a house on the Isle of Wight, where they currently spend a third of the year. Having clocked up 20 years of entrepreneurship, Lynn and Colin are now reaping the rewards. Colin Offord said: “Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. It comes down to personality and the ability to commit yourself to making the business a success.”

Stacey Sterbenz, from the Small Business Services team at American Express, commented: “The skill and commitment it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur should never be underestimated. It’s great to see the rewards with many small business owners undoubtedly enjoying high levels of job satisfaction through working for themselves. In fact, our 2015 Small Business Barometer research found that the majority of small business owners surveyed have found it to be more rewarding than they expected when they first started. Even though they have faced challenges, over two-thirds said they would do it all again, without hesitation.”

To find out more about how American Express Business Cards could help make your business spend more rewarding, visit the American Express Website.

*The American Express Small Business Barometer was commissioned by American Express and conducted by market researcher Coleman Parkes in summer 2015. The research polled 500 decision makers in businesses with under 50 employees in the UK.

Click here for full terms and conditions.

American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Previous: Facing challenges – The businesses undeterred and winning