smallbusiness.co.uk: Helping your business think big

How to ride out the rough times as a small business owner
Running a start-up comes with tough times and emotional swings

Beatrice Bartlay remembers the times when her business was under threat – and how she pulled through the dark days. 

Every entrepreneur and business owner will come up against obstacles during their journey to set up a successful business, but it is how people cope with these obstacles that sets them and their business apart from the competition. There is nothing more empowering than running your own business but when encountering a rough patch, there can be nothing more demeaning too.

Expecting an easy ride is the first mistake any entrepreneur can make, as no matter how organised you are and no matter what contingencies you have in place, something will happen during your entrepreneurial journey that will shock you and make you question your decision to ‘set up shop’. But stay strong and stick to your guns, and you will survive. Any entrepreneur who hasn’t encountered difficulties is either very lucky or is lying!

It is important to always remember that with the good, comes the bad, and you never know when a challenge will come your way. One of the first big breakthroughs for 2B Interface, the specialist recruitment agency I set up nine years ago, came in 2007, when it was named Best New Business by the London Chambers of Commerce. I was so happy and proud of our achievements. However, just three weeks later our main client went bust, leaving us with a £90,000 unpaid invoice.

Listen to your instincts

Ignoring advice to close the business, I refused to admit defeat, and set about recovering the money owed to me. I realised that if our client still had customers waiting and orders to fill, I could help them find the staff for their production line. I managed to save jobs for the workers and negotiated the best way of payment for the client, who paid in small instalments – it took me three months to be in the black again but 2B Interface survived. However, this was not without months of long hours, hard work and minimal income; I lost almost a stone in weight, and was working 16-hour days.

With the rough though, comes the success, and I’ve had many highlights along the way, too. In particular, all of the awards we have won as a company (and presenting business awards as a judge is always a thrill!). Nothing ever feels better though than seeing the happy faces of people suffering from MS when our charity money helps them with rehabilitation.

The challenge of running an SME

Another big breakthrough came in 2011, when three of my managers left the business out of the blue to set up on their own after I had trained and promoted them. It was later discovered that their departure was carried out in cooperation with our former IT provider, so they also had access to the company servers and information. They caused a big threat to the company but despite their effort, all of our customers remained loyal to us. I learnt a lot from this rather dispiriting experience – about myself and other people. I made my company even more structured and it taught me that good service is more important to customers than a slightly lower price.

Looking back, I actually think this was the best thing to ever happen to my company as it taught me a lot and it showcased my loyal and hard working team.

A key lesson I have learnt on my business journey is that perseverance is priceless. You will make mistakes, but be sure that you then learn from these experiences, and play better!

Plan, plan and plan again

I would advise budding entrepreneurs to really think of what you want to do, why you want to do it, and with whom you want to work. You then need to prepare a business plan with contingencies for the unexpected, including a back-up source of revenue. It’s important that this plan is implemented consistently. Then set yourself achievable long-term and short-term goals and take expert advice wherever possible – you need to know your industry inside out.

You must always remember that every entrepreneur encounters barriers, challenges and obstacles and this is not a reflection on you and your ability. It is how you cope with these challenges that demonstrates your true entrepreneurial spirit, and there’s nothing better than surviving against all the odds! 

Further reading on starting a business

See also: Owner's salary

Previous article

Preventing illegal working: Changes to employer obligations

Next article

UK small businesses still struggling to stay afloat

Post a comment

6 comments

Marian Rateb

Hi everyone, I'm so excited my husband is back after a break up with the help of a powerful & genuine spellcaster called Dr.Unity. When my husband broke up with me i was so frustrated and i could not know what next to do again, i love my husband so much but he was cheating on me with another woman and this makes him broke up with me so that he can be able to get marry to the other lady and this lady i think us witchcraft on my husband to make him hate me and my kids and this was so critical and uncalled-for,I cry all day and night for God to send me a helper to get back my man until i went to NY to see a friend and who was having the same problem with me but she latter got her Husband back and i asked her how she was able to get her husband back and she told me that their was a powerful spell caster in Africa name Dr.Unity that he help with love spell in getting back lost lover back, and i decided to contacted the same Dr.Unity and he told me what is needed to be done for me to have my man back and i did it although i doubted it but i did it and the Dr told me that i will get the result after 48hours, and he told me that my husband was going to call me by 9pm in my time and i still doubted his word, to my surprise my husband really called me and told me that he miss me so much, Oh My God! i was so happy, and today i am happy with my man again and we are joyfully living together as one good family and i thank the powerful spell caster Dr.Unity of Unityspelltemple@gmail.com, he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet that good spell casters still exist and Dr.Unity is one of the good spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are there and your lover is turning you down, or you have your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore contact the powerful spell caster Dr.Unity on his email: Unityspelltemple@gmail.com or call him on +2348072370762. if you have any problem contact Dr.Unity i guarantee you that he will help you and i am Katy Brown by name, I reside here in Silver Springs Florida. My residential address is as follows. 7008 E Hwy 326 Silver Springs Florida 34488, United States.

Eric Gomez

How to stop your break up or divorce and win back your lost love... right now...no matter how hopeless your situation seems... read my testimony.. I was hurt and heart broken when a very big problem occurred in my marriage seven months ago, between me and my husband . so terrible that he took the case to court for a divorce. he said that he never wanted to stay with me again,and that he didn't love me anymore.So he packed out of the house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get him back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and he confirmed it that he has made his decision,and he never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my husband .So i explained every thing to him,so he told me that the only way i can get my husband back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for him too.So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow his advice. Then he gave me the Email address of the spell caster whom he visited. Templeofloveandprosperity@gmail.com . So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address he gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my husband back the next day. What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me, and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my husband who didn't call me for the past 7 months, gave me a call to inform me that he was coming back. So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster. So, i will advice you out there if you have any problem contact Dr Frank Ojo, i give you 100% guarantee that he will help you.. Email him at: Templeofloveandprosperity@gmail.com ,or visit his Web site to know more about him: http://africatemple.yolasite.com , Name: Wendy Owen , From:UK. Thank you sooooo much!!!

Lina Tsakmakis

Ok well I have hit the give up and go wall or fight . I want to fight for my bistro make it a success . But I have been left with the ball in my court . One thing I have learnt is do not have a business partner who has no power . I made that mistake and now I am alone trying to raise £15k plus . My business is just over a year old don't go to the funding circle or other like this as they wont help , the only thing in my business is a personal loan . No governebt finding is out there only the council , landlords and others wanting money . So I have till Tuesday to think my next option . All thoughts welcome .

Valerie Clark

OMG, what a nightmare you have been through. I thought my situation was troublesome. I am about to go back to work full time as my husband has lost his job and I just set up a boutique so now have to recruit part time staff but worried about trust, money, wholesalers etc but if you have survived, I am sure I will my business is small compared to yours. You inspire me. Thank you

Lucy Pitts - Copywriter

Glad to have stumbled across this blog which I'll be popping back to. And thanks Beatrice for a little inspiration on an otherwise uninspiring Friday!

Sean Morrow

All power to you Beatrice. To survive a substantial bad debt and then be torpedoed by one's own staff (sadly not uncommon in the recruitment industry) is testament to your entrepreneurial spirit and determination not to see your own business fail. Any small business owner worth his or her salt should feel the same about their own business as it is often a leap into the unknown when starting your own business. There is seldom little in the way of advice apart from articles such as this. It is for that reason I along with my business partner recently ventured into the unknown ourselves and started a free bi-monthly email/online magazine which covers a variety of subjects produced by professionals to help and give advice to the SME owner. We cover topics from managing slow payers & avoiding bad debts, producing cash flows as well as obtaining finance via a variety of sources including invoice finance. If you would like to know more or subscribe to the magazine feel free to contact me on 0333 011 3622 or my email.

Related

News | Outlook

Are you a typical small business?

News | Opportunities

Funding boost for small business

News | Outlook

70,000 for best small business

News | Law

Sunday best for small business

Small Business Offers

More from Small Business

Starting a Business
Brexporting: From price points to pallet delivery 

Brexporting: From price points to pallet delivery 

How might a Brexit affect your logistical operations and international trade? Here, we look at...  

Financing a Business
Why small business lending alternatives are the next big thing 

Why small business lending alternatives are the next big thing 

Here are a few of the biggest drivers behind the slowdown in small business lending...  

Running a Business
The implications of drink driving and needing a licence for work 

The implications of drink driving and needing a licence for work 

Here, we give advice on the course of action to take if you get caught...  

News
Company owners in the dark about business rate changes

Company owners in the dark about business rate changes

More than a third of business owners are unfamiliar with the business rates changes put...