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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 January 2007, 18:12 GMT
How new start-ups can best succeed
George Derbyshire, head of the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies, is the newest member of the BBC News Website's panel of small business experts.

Here to answer your questions on how a new firm can obtain start-up support, below he shares his initial thoughts on the best way to ensure a new company can succeed its tricky first few years.

If you were to turn the story of a successful business into a graph, the chances are that it wouldn't be a steady upward curving line.

Starting a business means jumping a number of hurdles

It would be a series of steps - a staircase, if you like. Every step represents an obstacle overcome or a challenge met.

I met two successful start-up businesswomen recently.

The first ran a good business, using contacts she had built up as an employee to start her own company.

But as the firm grew, she ran into a problem.

She was too busy running the business, answering the phone, making up orders, chasing accounts, to find time to develop it.

So how did she respond? She decided to keep it simple, restrict the growth of the business to what she could handle comfortably.

'Passion for business'

The second woman turned a successful hobby trading on eBay into a thriving business.

As sales grew, she ran into the same problem: she found that her time was spent on the computer managing her sales or making up packages, and rushing round to the post office.

The business had run into the same obstacle: she was spending so much time running the business, that she had no time to develop it.

For her, the solution was simple. It was time to take on her first employee.

It's not for me to say which woman made the right decision.

One of the beauties of running your own business is that you can make the decisions which are right for you.

But, what I do believe is that people don't go into business because they get a kick out of writing business plans, or filling in VAT returns, or working out a marketing strategy.

They go into business because they have a passion for their product, their service, or the skills they offer.

And, generally, plumbers don't fail because they are bad plumbers, nor do web designers fail because they are bad web designers.

Rather, they run into trouble on all those boring peripheral "business" bits - cashflow, pricing, marketing, regulations, etc.

Business support agencies can't help you be a better plumber or web designer but we can help you with your business problems - and give you more scope to develop your business to meet your ambitions.

To ask George Derbyshire a question about how best to market your small business use the email form below.

Alternatively you can email another member of our small business and entrepreneurship panel of experts by clicking on one of the links on the right.

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