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Business Insights: 6 top tips from Andrew

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Part of our growing Business Insights, where company owners share their advice and experience

Andrew Seaton

Andrew Seaton

Be strict on credit limits. As a small business owner you wear many hats. My sales hat was much bigger than my credit control hat. When a customer is up to their £10k credit limit and says ‘send me another £2k of equipment’ the excitement of extra business can take over. It’s not quite as exciting chasing 60 day overdue accounts and hearing repeated excuses as to why they cannot pay. I learnt early on that a sale is not a sale until it’s been paid in full.

If it ain’t broke fix it. Just because video ‘tape’ recorders were hot sellers for many years, it didn’t stop them from becoming old technology and being replaced overnight with digital ‘DVD’ recorders, which are now being replaced with ‘network’ storage solutions. The same can apply when one year your customers are happy to receive a catalogue and order by phone, and the next they want to order online from your – or if you don’t have one – your competitors e-commerce website. I learnt the hard way early on, the importance of continual change, being ahead of the curve, and not relying on things just because they have worked in the past.

Delegate. As a small business owner, nobody knows your business like you do, or is as committed to your business and customers as you are, and there might be a temptation to do everything yourself. It took me a few years of being a ‘one person band’, however once I started employing people and had grown to a team of five, I wished I’d had that team and support much earlier on.

Keep your ideas to yourself A while after starting my business, and achieving initial success, I was approached by a ‘friend’ who became interested in the running of my business. In good faith I shared my sales and marketing strategies. Shortly after said ‘friend’ had replicated my business model, undercutting me on price, targeting my customers and had effectively become a competitor.

The good times don’t last forever. In 1999 I started my business with a single unique product, minimal competition, high margins and most people I ‘cold called’ wanted to meet me. In 2009 I had over 1,000 products, cutthroat competition (manufacturers were emailing end users direct), low margins and my telemarketing team were reporting they were now the ‘8th, 9th or 10th distributor that had called customers that day’. I was working harder, smarter, and selling more than ever just to break even. I wish that I’d expanded much earlier in the ‘growth’ stage of the security market, which was now saturated and in ‘decline’.

After 12 enjoyable and successful years and taking into consideration the market conditions, Andrew Seaton sold his security business in 2011 to change career direction, and ‘with lessons learned’ is now Head of Business Development for Codastar, a Web Marketing Agency in London; specialising in Web Design, Social Media Design, and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), helping clients maximise their online business.

Our contributing writers are professionals who have valuable advice to offer. We assess and approve all our contributors to ensure their content is expert and relevant.

Written by getrealvideo

January 27, 2013 at 9:00 am

One Response

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  1. A family member linked me to this resource. Thnx for the details.


    February 8, 2013 at 2:03 am

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