Do you have what it takes to survive in business?

Some of the UK's most successful entrepreneurs share the challenges they have faced since starting their businesses.

What challenges have you faced as a business owner? Challenges are inevitable and in overcoming them you can watch your business grow. In this video famous entrepreneurs Adam Balon of Innocent Drinks, Julian Granville of Boden, and Margo Marrone of The Organic Pharmacy reveal the biggest challenges they have faced since starting their business.

Financial worries

“Initial challenges were around people. Why would anyone come and work for three guys working out of a bus shed in North Ladbroke Grove making these random smoothies?”, says founder of Innocent Drinks, Adam Balon. “We used to advertise on the side of bottles, come work for us, but it was hard.”

One of the biggest worries for a new business owner can be money matters. Julian Granville, founder of Boden recalls the tentative future of his business due to financial uncertainty. “It was seven years until I wasn’t genuinely worried about the imminent prospect of bankruptcy.”

Steve Locke echoes this when he describes the first few years. “It was a very hand to mouth existence. We all lived together in one flat so we probably worked a hundred hours a week for £100 a week.” For Locke, the main motivation to overcome this challenge was seeing their hard work pay off. “But we could see that we were generating enough sales for this business to work.”

Margo Marrone, the founder of The Organic Pharmacy also had concerns about money as she struggled to find funding for her business venture. “The biggest challenge earlier on was definitely finding funding. And we found that we were massively underfunded. Everything cost much more than we anticipated.”

Location is everything

Retail business owner, Marrone and restaurant owner, Ajith Jayawickrema both came up against the challenge of find the right location for their business. “With retail finding the right location is the most important thing.” says Marrone.

The founder of the Latin American themed Las Iguanas and the Caribbean food outlet Turtle Bay, Jayawickrema notes place and people mean everything when creating an authentic experience for customers. “Finding good property in the right location that is right for the brand, and finding great people who are right for the brand, are the two greatest challenges.”

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Everyday challenges

You can expect ongoing challenges when you run a product business, with logistical issues always being at the forefront. The founder of Orlebar Brown, Adam Brown, describes the challenges involved in running a product led business. “A clothing business or a product led business just eats up cash.”

For Brown the reality of a product business is everyday challenges. “You have to make the new range before you’ve even sold out of the last one, constantly managing your stock levels, in the early days sending orders abroad to the US; customs, duties, testing of fabrics. The challenges were everything.”

Although challenges are inevitable in business they are what tests your resilience and your ability to deal with such challenges. “Everybody who is making a product has a raft of day to day things that aren’t going well. “Entrepreneurs have to prepared for such challenges and be ready to adapt. “The bottles designer says we’re out of clear glass bottles and so we had to bring in some green bottles to make sure we didn’t run out of stock”, says Charles Rolls, founder of Fever Tree.

Will you rise to the challenge?

Challenges can be overcome; it just depends on whether you are flexible enough to overcome these challenges. “Constraints changed at each stage, and leading the business you need to try and anticipate what the constraint is going to be and do as much as you can to try and circumvent it.”

This video was filmed by Piper, a specialist investor in consumer brands, helping to grow businesses such as Boden, Las Iguanas and Maximuscle.

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