Route planner

David Lester explains why he has just decided to rebrand the business to reflect his plans for the future

Most entrepreneurs I know are forever considering new ideas for possible businesses. This is why people like Stelios Haji-Ioannou with his easyGroup or Richard Branson with Virgin – both involved in many different sectors – are what many in business aspire to. And clearly both have been very successful.

On the other hand, many businesses obviously thrive on focus. Innocent, the smoothie company, for example, are extremely focused, with the mantra ‘keep the main thing the main thing’, while Johnny Boden, founder of the eponymous and highly successful mail order company, tells how his business grew stronger when they ceased doing Baby Boden, which had become a distraction. I’ve written in this column before about the problems distraction has caused our business.

I’m sure that you see all sorts of opportunities for growing your business. The challenge is knowing which to go for, and which to leave alone. And, of course, a major part of that decision is how to resource and manage the potential new business.

That’s why we’re holding our first Growth Strategies conference this April. We’ve lined up a great variety of entrepreneurs to talk about why and how they did what they’ve done, as well as experts from marketing to finance to share with you what it takes to follow each of these strategies. It should be a wonderful chance for you to take a day out of the office to think through your own strategic options in an environment where you can discuss strategies with successful entrepreneurs.

We’re aiming this conference at directors of businesses turning over between £5m and £250m, so that we can be sufficiently focused to be useful. (Don’t worry if your business is currently smaller than this – we’re planning something similar for you later in the year).

It’s highly relevant for us at Crimson as publishers of Growing Business. Just this month we’ve rebranded, from Crimson Publishing to Crimson Business. It’s subtle, and you’re unlikely to have noticed, but important for our advertisers and sponsors to see our focus on the business market. We publish both the most popular commercial website for small businesses in this country ( and the most popular magazine for entrepreneurs, as well as organising a range of events and publishing for some major companies. Strategically, we have decided to leave the consumer magazine sector (where we have historically had several magazines, which we’ve recently sold) to invest more in our business publishing interests.

But this still leaves a number of options. We could publish more magazines or books, offer targeted training for entrepreneurs, a consultancy service to medium-sized businesses. We could even get involved in TV programmes like Dragons’ Den, which I imagine many of you are watching with the same fascination and frustration as I am. These are just some of the opportunities that we’ve either considered seriously or have been approached with.

We have regular away-days for senior management to review strategy and progress. These have always been enjoyable, and usually helpful – but too often we have circled round various issues without necessarily knowing how to decide objectively which route to take.

Next issue, I’m looking forward to applying a practical framework developed by John Bates, head of entrepreneurship at London Business School (voted the UK’s best business school), which he’ll be presenting at the end of the conference. It’s designed to be easy to learn and use, yet rigorous enough to actually help. He’s a very smart man, understands more about entrepreneurial businesses than almost anyone I’ve ever met, and he’s a great speaker – I can’t wait for the session.

I look forward to meeting some of you at the conference. If you can’t make it but have any ideas on how you think we can help you more, please be sure to drop us a line.

David Lester, founder of Crimson Business, has established or run half-a-dozen businesses, as well as advising others.


(will not be published)