Kevin Appleton
Great Business

Member Article

What I wish I'd known when starting out

Kevin Appleton is divisional chairman of Travis Perkins Builders’ Merchants, a Northampton-based building supplies firm. He tells us what he wishes he’d known when he was starting out in business.

I started my career 30 years ago, working the night shift in Slough sorting office. I have come a long way since then, thanks to some vital pieces of advice that have stayed with me ever since.

When you are starting out, and always in business, it is critical to work out the best ways of operating: putting the right structures and processes in place for your business. When you have an exciting new idea, it’s easy to get carried away without giving enough thought to how you are going to execute it properly. It’s vital to take a step back and plan first. Although this can be boring, it’s critical, and if you get this right you’re more likely to get a good outcome.

Another lesson I have learnt is the importance of staying true to yourself. The most successful business people are those who have managed to combine their own values with their business idea. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, or behave in the way you think successful business people behave. We don’t all have to be ‘Dragons’ to be successful entrepreneurs!

Of course, in this economic climate one of the hurdles that many new businesses come across is the availability of credit. It’s more important than ever to think carefully about living within your means and growing your business at a pace that is manageable – and that can be financed. Think about trying to build a business that can be passed onto your grandchildren. In fact, if you look at the German economy this is precisely what you will find – a lot of successful and thriving businesses that have been passed down through the generations.

In my role I am lucky enough to be surrounded by colleagues to talk to for advice, however I appreciate that starting your own business can be isolating and even lonely. It’s so important to seek advice and to build a supportive network. The Business inYou website is an excellent resource, and I’d also recommend seeking out people in a similar situation to you through local networks and mentoring schemes. Having others to discuss issues with has been so helpful throughout my career. Whether that’s contacting the local Chamber of Commerce or running ideas past friends and family, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Great Business .

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