The Great British Entrepreneur Scale-Up Conference will attract an audience of 500 founders, entrepreneurs and business owners from ambitious businesses.
Working in association with Coutts, NatWest and RBS alongside significant partners and the media the inaugural Scale-Up Conference will take place in Central London on 20th November 2017 touching upon several areas of how to scale up your business from experienced entrepreneurs. James Sinclair, owner of the Partyman group and founder of the Entrepreneur’s Network for growing businesses gives his tips on scaling a business.
I started my first business as a children’s entertainer when I was 15 and I set up Partyman when I was just 20. Ten years on, I have grown The Partyman Company into a family entertainment brand that turns over £10 million a year. Ultimately it is my vision that drives the business forward – I will always be an entertainer at heart and this runs through Partyman’s DNA and is key to our success. As a business mentor, I am often asked how I managed to scale my business up at pace, so here are some building blocks to get you started:
Have a clear vision: In order to grow, you must have a clear vision of your destination. My vision is to be the largest and the best family entertainment brand in the UK and that is what I constantly work towards. Although you need to have an end point in mind, try breaking it into chunks to make it seem more achievable. For example, when I was 15 and set my first business up, my goal was to have earned enough money to buy a house by the time I was 20. I achieved that and then moved on to my next goal. I find that writing my goals down helps them to become more concrete and therefore more achievable. As I reach each goal, I cross it off my list and move onto the next one.
Be prepared to take risks: Your business won’t fly unless you are prepared to take risks. Many business owners worry about taking on staff. My view has always been that it is important to understand that your business is bigger than you are and in order to grow, you must take on staff who can help you get there. One of my first hires, was a great book keeper who could crunch the numbers for me on a weekly basis and make sure that invoices were paid on time, releasing me to focus on sales and marketing to bring in more business.
Create a strong management team: I have a great team of senior managers without whom, I couldn’t run Partyman. All of them buy into the Partyman vision where we focus on providing a great customer experience and an “entertainment ethos.” Our business is all about making sure people have fun, doing it better than anyone else and ensuring that philosophy permeates into everything that we do. Create a great team around you that shares your vision and it will transform your business.
Create a continuous revenue stream: I grew my business knowing that my challenge was to generate cash flow all year round. Initially I started off with two indoor play centres but soon realised that they stood empty when it was sunny so I looked for outdoor venues to enhance my offering thus guaranteeing consistent income whatever the weather. The next problem to overcome was how to generate a good income all year round, not just at weekends and in school holidays. I added children’s nursery venues to the business to guarantee income during term time. Gradually I built a portfolio of businesses that complemented each other and generated a constant stream of income all year round. It is so important to find a way to ensure that your business is always generating income so that you can continue to meet your overheads all year round.
Learn from failure: You don’t grow a business as fast I have without problems and my stumbling block was finance. In the early days, my solution was to take out loans to buy venues and improve them. The 2008 financial crisis made this impossible so I had to be more innovative in getting finance for the business in order to grow. We had some tough times financially, I nearly lost the business but I kept it alive and learned from my mistakes. Remember that failure makes you stronger and you can learn from it and use it to drive the business forward.
For more information on the The Great British Entrepreneur Scale-Up Conference visit here.