Survival tips from Edward Wray

Wray has built a £239m-turnover betting business. Here are his top tips on surviving the downturn, live from the Entrepreneurs’ Summit.

"Expect things to go wrong"Don’t listen to all those people saying, ‘I’ve been through a recession before. I know what to expect’ – they don’t. These are unprecedented times. Things will go wrong. You can’t put your head in the sand. Deal with difficult decisions now, not later."

Adhere to old-fashioned principles"The most important of these is: cash is king.," says Wray. "Your ally going forward is not your accountant, it’s your bank manager. It doesn’t matter what numbers are scrawled in your profit margin, it’s about the cash."

"Stress your business plan""When you give your business plan its annual haircut. Do it again. Then again. And set actions in stone for when your business reaches certain thresholds. Better to do it now while you’re calm and rational than when you’re in a panic and things are going wrong."

"Don’t just do what you did last year""Revisit every part of your business and make sure it’s fit for purpose," says the Betfair boss. "We do a lot of corporate hospitality – taking clients to sports events, mostly. Yes, it’s a tough life. But when we looked back on our marketing spend, we decided to cut most of it out. It didn’t actually bring that much value to the business. Likewise, we looked at 200 supplier contracts and renegotiated over 80 per cent."

Spend today, save tomorrow"If you can afford to invest in your business today, do," says Wray. "It’ll be cheaper to do it today. You need to take a long term view if you’re going to be here in two years’ time."

"Find reasons to say ‘yes’.""There are always reasons why things can’t be done," says Wray. "Stop looking for negatives, look for ways to form new parterships and ultimately find reasons to say ‘yes’."

The 2009 Real Business Entrepreneurs’ Summit was held in association with Investec Private Bank.

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