In September 2014, Coleman Parkes conducted some research for HSBC about people who start their own businesses. It revealed that the majority are driven by a desire for independence (61%) and passion for what they do (44%), rather than the desire to make more money (29%). Even an improved work-life balance (40%) was considered more important than increased income.
When asked about what lies behind business success, 65 per cent of senior business figures believed that a good business plan was a driver for success in business. 41 per cent said that market understanding was essential, and the same number (41%) believed that an innovative business idea was a key driver for a successful business.
How closely do the findings mirror the reality for the start-ups and small businesses we’ve spoken to for the Knowledge Centre? We asked four entrepreneurs what’s on their mind first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
What gets you up in the morning and what keeps you awake at night?
1. Service standards
Patrick Beacom, Inter-com Translations
“Giving my clients an excellent service is what gets me up in the morning. There are so many aspects that must be thought out and organised to ensure our service is of the highest standards, I must constantly keep ahead of the game. “What keeps me awake at night is the very effort to maintain the excellent service our customers expect from us. Also, surmounting the problems and obstacles that are constantly thrown at us – not least getting through a tough recession in one piece and retaining clients in a market that has become very much more cutthroat.”
2. Children and challenges
Hillary Graves, Little Dish
“My kids get me up in the morning– and sometimes they even keep me awake at night! Running your own business and having the responsibility of leading a small team has its challenges and that can give you some sleepless nights. I’m continually trying to think of ways to make Little Dish more successful and that’s what also motivates me.”
3. Figures and the future
David Symons, The Press Room
“I love looking at the profit and loss account and seeing how my decisions are impacting on the figures. I sleep pretty well actually, mainly because I have developed a great team of people who I trust to do the right thing when I am not there. I think my biggest anxiety at the moment is: do I expand or not?”
4. Planning, promptness
Julia Lowe, Farm Toys Online
“What makes me tick is the planning side of the business – how to expand, where to make better margins. I’m a figures person. But running a small business means you have to be involved in almost all aspects of the business, even if just overseeing or discussing other people’s ideas – and that’s what makes it so interesting. If I dreaded getting up in the morning, I would think about doing something else instead. “When I started the business I would often be kept awake at night wondering how we were going to get all our orders out in time. Ever since the business started we have always aimed to get all our orders out the same day because when I order online I want my goods NOW! However, as we have grown we have developed systems that make it much easier for us to manage and streamline the business. Looking back we wonder how it was ever a problem!”
A consistent view
Planning, fresh ideas, understanding customer needs – if you add in keeping an eye on the books, too, then our contributors’ hopes and concerns hold up a mirror to the survey results. Certainly the views expressed show us the attention to detail that keeps a successful enterprise fresh, along with the commitment required to build and maintain a business that affords the independence and engagement that many business-owners seem to crave.