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Our Entrepreneur of the Year’s top tips for growing a business

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Here he shares some valuable insights about how to take your business to the next level. 

Think like a £100m business 

Think and act as a £100m business from day one and you’ll get there quicker. Think small and you’ll be small. Get the people you need for where you are going, but also set up the systems, processes and software you’ll need from day one. 

Employ the best people you can afford 

Recruit for where you are going not where you are now and get the best people you can afford. Anesco advertises locally and we believe in finding a ‘round peg for a round hole’. We avoid detailed job specs and instead if we find a great person we take them on and find a place for them. 

Our people are paid well and everyone in the company shares in its success through our bonus scheme. We achieved Investors in People Gold standard at first assessment and within our first year, which was unheard of. This sends a clear message that we want to lock in our people and help them develop. It doesn’t matter how big your company is, engage with all staff and give them a voice and your time.

Consider venture capital investment 

There are loads of investors out there looking for businesses with growth potential. Keep it simple, all it took for Anesco to achieve a £6m venture capital investment was a four-page Powerpoint containing four charts showing how we would grow. There is no point doing a 250-word business plan that no one will read. It is very simple with VCs, if you don’t grow they won’t be happy, but if you do then they will help support and motivate you. Isn’t it better to have part of something huge, than 100 per cent of not much? 

Set goals not strategy 

I wanted a Porsche by the age of 21. That was a clear and easy goal for me. The strategy changed a hundred times in between but I knew my goal and I achieved it. People understand goals much more than strategy. This concept is explained well in a book by Ian Thomas ‘Power of the pride’. A pack of lions has a clear goal – to survive – and works collectively to achieve it. How they achieve it may change, but the goal remains.

Know your market better than anyone else 

Do you know your market inside out and better than anyone else? Information is power and it shouldn’t just be the CEO’s job to know it. Share with, encourage and empower your teams. Even if you don’t operate globally you should be looking at and visiting other countries to learn and take ideas from them. Go to California! Go to China! See what’s really happening in other countries. That’s how you will stay ahead and out manoeuvre the competition.

People connections 

James Caan said ‘your network of contacts is the fabric of your business’ and that is so true. Make sure you don’t lose the power of people connections. I have a great network of contacts and spend time growing and developing these relationships. Pick up the phone and talk, or even better go for coffee.

Learn from your competitors 

Who are your top five competitors? These should be competitors for tomorrow and where you are going, not where you are now. Learn from them and never let yourself get arrogant.

Be nimble 

We live in a fast moving world and you need to be nimble to be able to adapt and react. Make sure you are constantly evolving your business model. I have a light bulb moment almost every day and generally implement at least one a month.

Turn your phone and email off 

Make sure you and the team have space from work to be able to have these light bulb moments! In the evenings and when I go on holiday the phone is turned off and I do not check emails. How many of you can say that? It is so important to have this space, as technology has made it far too easy to access emails now. You need a break to be able to think.

Adrian Pike is the CEO and co-founder of Anesco and a judge at this year’s Growing Business Awards

Think you’ve got what it takes to be named Entrepreneur of the Year 2014? Enter the Growing Business Awards. It’s free to enter and nominations close on the 19th of September. 

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