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Hot 100 stars: mortgaged to the hilt

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And they’ve been willing to take those risks early on in their careers. Only just over half of founders are graduates with almost 40 per cent leaving school at GCSE or A level.

Most funded their start-ups themselves and they generally worked more than 70 hours a week. They’re not afraid of hard graft.

So what’s the biggest worry for the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s mega-growth companies? Top of the list is keeping a tight rein on their businesses and preventing things from unravelling. Next is recruiting the best employees, followed by keeping good relations with customers.

Grant Berry, managing director of LDC – the sponsors of our Hot 100 – says there’s another factor that should be niggling entrepreneurs. That of succession. “It’s in the nature of many entrepreneurs to be single-minded and bullish but you have to consider the future and prepare well in advance.”

He’s referring to the more than 50 per cent of respondents who, when asked what’s next for their business, responded that they would carry on for the foreseeable future.

Only eight per cent have decided to pass the business on to a family member and 18 per cent say they’ll sell to management. “Unfortunately, you can’t just wake up one morning and say ‘I think I’ll retire now’. Succession planning takes careful consideration and you should start giving it some thought years before you actually retire,” says Berry.

“It’s best to sell when you’re on the up and not when you’ve reached a plateau. Timing your exit could mean a difference of millions of pounds in terms of the money you can expect to receive.”

But will our entrepreneurs sit up and listen to such sage advice? Put it this way: 67 per cent are expecting sales to increase at the same rate or quicker; 31 per cent say sales will go on growing but more slowly; and only two per cent expect sales to fall.

With bullish expectations like these, you wouldn’t bet your house on many exits this year.

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The Hot 100 is sponsored by LDC.

Related links:The UK’s fastest growing companiesThe Hot 100: A new breed of entrepreneurFinancial businesses top UK fast-growth ranking

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