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Big Question: What challenges have you faced while growing your business? And how have you overcome them?

We asked - you answered!

As part of our Big Question feature, we asked four Forum members: what challenges have you faced while growing your business? and how have you overcome them?

Sim Hall, Populus Select

Starting any business is a huge challenge, but we choose an exceptionally difficult time to launch Populus Select; right as the recession took hold in 2008. But sometimes the best catch is found in muddy waters. 

Client budgets were understandably tight, but I realised that was an opportunity for us because when people are being frugal, they look for value, which as a small team we could deliver. We set out to mould our service around the needs of the client and the ambition of the business. Whereas other recruitment firms just think of instructions as a job to fill, we considered ourselves an extension of their business strategy. Something which we have done for every client since. It can still be difficult when you’re working with a new client as some have the misconception that some recruitment companies under-deliver, but we quickly change their mind when we deliver value for money.

Caroline Moody, Moody Logistics and Storage

The pandemic created several barriers to growth, which crucially for Moody Logistics and Storage involved shortages of qualified drivers, new and used trucks, and storage facilities.

In response, we developed our own fast-track driver apprenticeship scheme, which has so far produced four LGV Class 2 drivers, some of whom qualified as quickly as five months. It has proved so successful, that we have just recruited our fifth driver apprentice.

Meanwhile supply chain shortages severely slowed the manufacture of vans and trucks, which also impacted the second hand market. Faced with delivery delays of up to 14 months, we overcame the problem with careful forward planning and ensuring our vehicle orders were placed well ahead of time.

There is also rising demand for storage space, which means warehousing facilities are at a premium. Unable to purchase, Moody’s has leased additional warehousing to ensure we can continue to meet client requirements.

Fraser Brown, MotorVise 

I founded MotorVise back in 2014 with £12,000 from a credit card, working 90 to 120 hours a week for more than a year as I strove for success.

One of the biggest challenges to growth turned out to be myself, because I quickly realised hard work is not everything and that I had much to learn in the transition from a one-man band to building an organisation.

I was under extreme financial pressure, but that was all the motivation I needed to find the correct solutions to take the business forward.

Running an automotive consultancy, I learnt three key lessons: sales are everything, finding and retaining great people is a must, and ensuring the business is process led and that those processes solve problems.

These days that accumulated knowledge and experience means MotorVise largely runs itself, allowing me to work on the business, rather than in the business.

Rosie Bath, Cera Cotton

Sourcing plastic-free and UK made materials has been a big challenge in launching Cera Cotton. Many companies market their products as being sustainable, but when you read the small print, you realise that is not the case. My whole brand ethos is to be plastic-free and made in the UK. So when it came to sourcing the raw materials for manufacturing, getting this right has been a top priority. This has been proven difficult with the amount of ‘greenwashing’ there seems to be in business. There were two occasions with companies supplying packaging which had ‘UK’ in their registered business names, it was only when I read the invoice’s, I found they were based in China! I am now pleased to say I have a list of fantastic suppliers. I am confident in saying each product is 100% plastic-free, with most materials being sourced from the UK and designed, manufactured and shipped from the North-East. 

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