2017: A year of UK Business Forums

  1. 2017 business
    Kat Haylock

    Kat Haylock Community Editor Staff Member

    452 215
    1 |

    Well - that was quite a year wasn’t it? Give yourselves a pat on the back, because we’ve all made it through with a little bit of sanity left intact. Time to settle down with a well-deserved kilo of cheese and glass of something mulled.

    One of my colleagues said recently: You spend all day reading the forums. Does it make you want to start your own business?

    My answer? Absolutely not. As much as I understand the sense of liberation that comes from starting up, reading about the day-to-day challenges (the accounts, the problem customers, the market) only makes me more convinced that it’s something I couldn’t do. I just don’t have the courage, drive or resilience it takes - so to everyone who has their own business (or is thinking about starting one in the new year), bravo. Good for you.

    As my final post of this year, here’s a look back on some of the best nuggets of advice from the forums in the last 365 days. Thank you to everyone who’s contributed over the course of 2017 and spent their time trying to help someone else out: the forum wouldn’t work without you.

    Without further ado:

    Paul Norman on business partnerships: Make sure that your shareholders agreements, director contracts and partnership agreements (where relevant) are drawn up by a solicitor on the assumption that one day you will hate each other with more passion than you can ever imagine. Spell out precisely what must happen on the day one, or both of you wants out. Make it watertight.

    Nick Grogan on preventing scope creep: That one sentence (“After launching a new website for a client of mine”) is the basis of all your problems. You know what you mean, but it's not the same meaning in your client’s mind. Are you going to design a website (which is what you seem to be offering) or launch a website (which therefore includes SEO, which is what the client thinks you're offering).

    lfw on coming up with a business name:  I like the use of your own name. It says to me that you stand behind your business. “I am proud of my product/service and believe in it enough to attach my name to it.”

    Tony84 on honest feedback: When I am quiet, I do a quick email around the people who made enquiries, looked promising but never proceeded, to see why we lost them. I ask them to be completely honest, say it won't hurt our feelings and that anything they say will hopefully help us in the future. I am always really happy when people come back and give me something to work with.

    TODonnell on taking the leap: If you don't know what niche you want to be in, well, stay where you are would be my advice! Dropping a successful job and becoming an entrepreneur for its own sake is a dud idea, in my opinion. What you don't hear about is the number of failures successful entrepreneurs get through before they made it big. And the suffering they underwent.

    garyk on data: The problem I encounter in large businesses is that they keep wanting more and more metrics, but don't really use or apply what they already have. They then end up with a myriad of views and reports of what is essentially the same data. For small businesses it tends to be more operational: debtors reporting, cashflow, etc, which is pretty key. The key for an SME is keep it simple, focus on what you need, and then if you have time to focus on what you might want.

    obscure on being afraid to give your business idea away: You are going to face competition one way or another. If you don't already have a plan to beat that competition then you really shouldn't be bothering at all. If you do have a plan to beat the competition then excluding sources of financing makes no sense, as it just reduces your chances of getting the idea off the ground at all.

    The Byre on reflection: I would not have wasted a year in rented property, but would have bought a place right from the beginning. Never rent, if at all possible! I should also have avoided customers who don't pay on time and customers who are more hassle than they are worth. Learn to fire the bad customer!

    Paulears on catty employees: My God – this isn't Great Expectations! Do they do their job properly? Are they loyal to the firm and would you miss their contribution to the business? Everyone moans about their bosses – every decision you make won't be to their liking and they're entitled to moan and groan.

    Mike Hayes on starting up part time: Figure out what fires you up, try to take control of that and channel it into your startup. I don't know what kind of business you want to start but many businesses can begin in spare time. Keep the security of your job but start your business in spare time ‒ if you're really committed, you'll find plenty of time.

    fisicx on sales pitches: Stop selling websites and start selling benefits. Tell people about how an improved online presence will bring in new leads, allow them to showcase their products and services, take bookings, and provide support and so on. The website is just the means of delivery.

    DrGR on mistakes: The biggest business lessons I have learnt have been through making mistakes. The sooner you get mistakes out of the way, the sooner you get to reap the rewards of doing things the right way! Business isn't always rosy or pretty, and doesn't go ideally to plan, but I genuinely think drive, determination, and positivity goes a hell of a long way to getting you where you think you currently want to end up.

    Mr D on rude customers: Some customers a business can do without.

    Clinton on being present in business: See yourself as the person developing staff to take on additional responsibility and management initiative. Reward them with profit sharing or shares. Assist them with transitioning into supervisors or managers. To make themselves redundant is a good goal for a business founder to have!

    WebShop Mechanic on hard work: Having been unfortunate to experience 'burn out' I would say that hard work is not the answer. It's about working 'smarter'. Time is the most important thing we have and you must make time for to look after your health, physical and mental.

    Merry Christmas everyone and I’ll see you in the new year! Try to behave yourselves while I’m away…


    JEREMY HAWKE UKBF Legend Full Member

    3,511 1,127
    Great post Kat
    I like the bit about the home truths putting you off
    It was at least 15 years before I really felt comfortable and at ease in the trouble and strife of running a business
    Would I do it all again ? I dont know I would probably opt for backpacking the world with the young people

    The forum has been a great place in 2017 to network get ideas give advice and sometimes even blow off some steam when some one has a different view!
    Never underestimate what this site can offer your business It has a fantastic bunch of highly experienced members
    I heard through the grape vine that a couple members of parliament and big investors read this so you never know who is around!
    Merry Christmas and a happy new year from us at Jeremy Hawke Couriers
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
    Posted: Dec 23, 2017 By: JEREMY HAWKE Member since: Mar 4, 2008
    Kat Haylock likes this.