Fastest 50: On the road to success

View from the top '“ what the Fastest 50 companies really think of the issues affecting today's business world.

16 March 2018 ....... The Yorkshire Post and Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 awards 2018 held at Aspire in Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson.

They have succeeded in growing their businesses faster than their counterparts, but what do the Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 of 2018 make of the major issues of today? We asked a cross-section of Fastest 50 companies some key questions.

1. In describing your path to the Fastest 50, what one moment stands out for you?

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As you’d expect from such a wide range of companies, this resulted in a whole range of inspirational achievements:

16 March 2018 ....... Keynote speaker Sir Keir Starmer at The Yorkshire Post and Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 awards 2018 held at Aspire in Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson.

“There isn’t any one moment. I don’t think it works like that. Growing a business to get into the Fastest 50 is all about effort.”

“Realising we had established a unique platform and a complete end-to-end process that delivers continued sustainable growth.”

“Receiving £2m funding from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, which will enable us to continue our rapid growth.”

“One moment that certainly stands out would be the £477,000 sale of a 1927 Bentley during the summer of 2016.”

16 March 2018 ....... Keynote speaker Sir Keir Starmer at The Yorkshire Post and Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 awards 2018 held at Aspire in Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson.

“The first time you hit your target.”

“The starting point. A chair, desk, phone, computer. Not much else, starting from zero in a recession.”

“The Fastest 50 Award is a great testament to the hard work and dedication of the team over a number of years.”

“Losing a trusted business partner. The impact of his quick and unexpected departure made me thirstier for success. It put the fire back in my belly and gave me even more drive to make the business even more successful. I needed to prove it to myself more than anybody.”

“Making a change to our sales strategy and park philosophy.”

2. What is the single biggest obstacle to business growth?

Distractions, bureaucracy and slow payment practices are among the obstacles our fast-growing businesses have encountered.

“Bureaucracy. Sometimes you spot an opportunity but unnecessary red tape slows you down in terms of how quickly you can act on it. It’s all part of being in business though, so you just need to be prepared to navigate your way through it and not let it deter you.”

“Recognising opportunities when they occur and not being distracted by sideshows. Having a clear vision, a viable business strategy and recognising the need to adjust the business plan when necessary.”

“Access to finance. That’s the single biggest concern and will always be on my mind.”

“Slow payment practices, especially within the construction industries where cashflow is key to maintaining growth.”

“One of the greatest challenges has been recruiting staff who share the same values and aspirations.”

“Self-doubters and ‘glass half empty’ characters. Don’t employ them!”

“Our biggest obstacle has been the lack of funding in our market to date, held back largely by legislation. We could have grown much faster had we access to more funding, however we are seeing an increased appetite from funders for the loans we produce and expect to grow significantly over the next three years.”

“Good staff – not getting people on board with you and not sharing the same vision. Teamwork is key. So you have to make sure all your staff believe in you as a leader and the business that you are driving.”

“Recruiting and retaining the right people.”
“Cash! Being prudent with your business funds is a tip I often give.”

3. What one thing do you wish someone had told you before setting up your business?

Our fastest-growing businesses are armed with good advice for others thinking about setting up new ventures.

“I don’t think I was fully prepared for how many sleepless nights there would be! There have been some pretty stressful times along the way, but it’s all been worth it.”

“Always play to your strengths and that of your partners and employees.”

“I wish someone would have told me that a lot of the time you can feel isolated and alone.”

“That our biggest challenge will be finding people of the right calibre and with the right attitude.”

“Have a sound business plan in place, when we started out we were literally flying by the seat of our pants at the time.”

“Give it a go. Even if you fail, you’ll have learned a great deal along the way. If you don’t try things, you’ll always wonder what might have been.”

“To invest strongly in people.”

“Trust your instincts.”

“Get all the details right beforehand e.g. a solid shareholders agreement. Then check everything again.”

“It is a lonely place running any company. Make sure you have a plan and vision. Be strong and back yourself!”

4. What is the most important characteristic to be successful in business?

Here’s what our businesses think is the key to success in business. Having empathy, staying power and passion are some of the key themes.

“Being a ‘chameleon’ is essential for success in business. The marketplace is constantly evolving so it’s important to adapt to different circumstances and change and move with the times, otherwise you’ll get left behind.”

“Obviously establishing a sound and viable business idea and then having the true Yorkshire grit and dogged determination to see it through from concept to completion. I believe determination is probably one of the most, if not the most important characteristic.”

“Staying power.”

“We deliver digital business solutions, but we’re a people business first. We take a deep interest in client challenges and where growth really comes from – mentoring, growing and retaining the people that make it happen. Technology is simply the means to get there.”

“Knowing your clients and responding to their specific needs and requirements.”

“Have empathy, be humble, always listen and learn from your mistakes!”

“Entrepreneurial belief and conviction in your decisions. Be aware of what you can learn from everything you do and keep looking forward to the next thing, applying that entrepreneurial belief proactively. Then roll up your sleeves and deliver.”

“Be yourself with people on all levels.”

“To be aware of the importance of the customer and to empower the team.”

“To treat others as you would like to be treated yourself, predominately honestly and fairly.”

5. So what business tips would our fastest-growing companies give to others starting out on their journeys?

“Get a good team behind you and take risks.”

“It’s hard work establishing a 
new business I have done it three times and there are several moments when you feel it’s 
unlikely to succeed, it is then when you need faith in yourself and commitment.”

“There are times in business when you may feel all is lost. Stamina will be required! Stick at it though, and you will find a way through.”

“If you think the internet was big, wait until you see what’s coming next. If you want to be a high-growth business, leaders need to be more proactive in transforming ways of working and exploiting market opportunities, presented by the digital revolution.”

“There is no substitute for hard work and commitment, and never give up.”

“Say yes to opportunities and then worry about how you are going to do it later.”

“Don’t be put off by negativity. If something hasn’t been done before, have a vision and go for it. Look for the opportunity when things go wrong and get over mistakes quickly, feeding that new understanding back into work.”

“Think big.”

“Be realistic – have your ‘feet on the ground’ about what you can achieve and how you will get there.”

“Don’t give up, maintain the focus, drive and determination to succeed through setting achievable goals.”

“Believe in yourself. Set out your goals, the steps to get you there, and go for it.”

“Focus on satisfying your customers.”

“When you find good talent that will make your business more profitable – recruit them.”