Elite Business Live 2023 ‘On Tour’: What are the realities of scaling a business?

Our panel talked about the true ups and downs of their business journeys

EBL ATOMICON What are the realities of scaling a business

Scaling a business is no easy feat. The trials and tribulations of building your start-up are many. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or a small business, taking your company to the next level comes with a fair set of challenges. There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, and having the right mindset and strategy is crucial when it comes to the longevity of your business. 

If you’ve started a business, or are thinking of launching one, it is important to know what you’re getting yourself into. Ben White, tech investor, entrepreneur and exec chair of Upp Technologies Ltd., Lisa Eaton, entrepreneur and founder of Fabric Academy, Rebecca Hartley, founder of Saving Grace Events, and Dr Alka Patel, founder of Lifestyle First, took to the stage at Atomicon in Newcastle for Elite Business ‘On Tour’ programme three, speaking about the realities of running a fast-track small business. The panel, hosted by Sophie Milliken MBE, spoke about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship – and their untold stories about hardships and success. 

Ben White spoke about how lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on your business trajectory. Since giving up alcohol, Ben said his stress levels have dropped significantly – which has had a huge impact on the success of his businesses. “Since I’ve stopped drinking so much of my stress has disappeared from my life,” Ben said. “I have a stressful job, I have two teenage boys, but I find it so much easier to manage all of that. If I’m honest, my family is my tonic. And I find my relief from spending time with them, and I haven’t missed having a bottle.” 

Lisa, who runs an award-winning marketing and communications agency, spoke about how closing down her previous business during lockdown was the right decision – but was not an easy decision to make. As much as we’d like to separate our business with our personal life, they can intertwine – but it’s important not to let it take over. Lisa said: “My nightmare was falling out of love with my business. I had such a purpose to create something better with my company. I sacrificed my family life, spending time with my children when they were young, and I put myself fully into this business. 

“Trying to build my business during Covid I lost the love for it, and trying to put the same effort into it was difficult to accept. One part of me didn’t want to accept the failure of not being able to get the business back up after Covid. Accepting that I fell out of love with my business and not being able to give it the same love, attention, dedication and care that I gave it previously. I had to accept the decision to move on, stop, close the business and pivot into something completely different. It was super challenging. It took a year of trying to make that decision, it was the hardest thing. Once I made the decision, disconnecting myself emotionally from the business was really difficult.” 

Dr Alka Patel spoke about the loneliness that comes with being an entrepreneur, and how important it is to surround yourself with like-minded people who are on a similar journey. “You suddenly find yourself on your own. If you’re a disruptor in the market, it’s a lonely road,” she explained. “I discovered that being a business owner, the temptation to go back to your previous job.” In a few words of advice, Dr Patel said: “Find your squad. Spend a bit of time knowing what’s important to you and your values. This time last year I took a vow of silence, I didn’t speak for 7 days! Sometimes a bit of solitude to do that bit of self-discovery when you’re a busy, passionate business owner, it is good to give yourself a bit of space. Figure out what drives you, what your values are, then find your people and your squad that share that.” 

Having a business comes with ups and downs. And sometimes, there can be more downs. Knowing when to pivot your business when times get tough is a scary yet brave step forward. Sometimes, closing down the business for good may be your only option. Knowing when it’s time to throw in the towel doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you were courageous enough to know when things weren’t working out – and to take action to make amends. 

Rebecca said: “I’m a real believer in listening to your gut feeling. I think whenever things go wrong, it’s because I ignored my gut. I kept going with it, I wanted my business to be a success and I could see the potential in it – but it was absolutely killing me. My mental health suffered massively. That impacted my family. I definitely should have quit earlier for my own benefit and also the benefit of the business… Sometimes quitting is the bravest thing to do. We’re told that quitting is not a good thing. Sometimes it takes a lot more courage to say ‘this isn’t working and I can’t make it work’ than it does to keep going on with something indefinitely.” 

If you need support, it is okay to ask for a helping hand. Ben opened up about his struggles with addictions and the impact it had on his family, and how they were there for him in his triumphs – and also his darkest times. “If you’re honest and you own the problem, most of your friends and family will support it. They’ve probably been nudging you in that direction. You’ll be surprised how supportive your close ones are… It’s about putting your hands up and asking for support. You can be surprised with how quickly that turns around.” 

To register to the next Elite Business Live programme taking place at Technology for Marketing you can register by clicking here.

Latifa Yedroudj
Latifa Yedroudj

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