Business development ยท 25 November 2015

Now is the time: Today?s dreamer, tomorrow?s entrepreneur

Ellis McPherson, sales support at
Ellis McPherson, sales support at
Entrepreneurship is currently enjoying a boom and creating a growing community of micro businesses. Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show there are now 1.9m more businesses in the UK than in 2000, and 900,000 of those were created in the last five years alone.

In association with American Express

Figures from the American Express? Small Business Barometer* have shown that despite the obstacles and challenges faced in running a small business, over two-thirds (69 per cent) of entrepreneurs surveyed would do it all over again without hesitation.

Satisfied customers, a sense of personal fulfilment and a better work/life balance were all cited in the survey as key measures of success defined by small business owners.

If you?re still unsure about whether to make the leap from employee to entrepreneur, then maybe established business leaders, Paul and Jennifer Rowlett can provide some inspiration. Paul set up promotional products and corporate gifts company,, in 2010 and hasn?t looked back.

Prior to founding their own venture, Paul was looking for work and wondering where his life was going to take him. And now, a relatively short time later, with his wife has a very successful company employing a full team of people.

Describing himself as someone who has always been ambitious, and ?not at his happiest working for other people?, his motivation was always trying to better himself. Whereas previous generations of business leaders had to be content with pounding the pavement or hitting the phones, as owners of a predominately online business leaders, the Rowletts are just two of thousands of people in the UK who have taken advantage of the internet as a route into new markets far beyond the company?s immediate locality.

While he believes some popular TV shows have given people a slightly unrealistic interpretation of what it is like to be an entrepreneur, Rowlett thinks that as long as you know your margins ?inside out?, now is a great time to take the plunge and go it alone.

In fact, just 21 per cent of small businesses surveyed by American Express said that that now is not a good time to start a business. For the optimistic majority, the immediate future looks bright with plans in place to increase turnover by an average of 24 per cent in the coming year ? a notable 33 per cent increase on current performance.

When Scorpion Shoes founder Moji Rezvani spoke to Business Advice, he was enthusiastic about the entrepreneurial journey but also keen to talk about the reality check he experienced during the early years as an independent retailer.

?I knew setting up my own business was never going to be plain sailing and it would have been fantastic to have known then some of the stuff I know now. I recommend going for it, but try to speed up the learning process ? don?t leave it to the market to teach you as it does it in a very hard way,? he said.

?Attend seminars, ask questions, read books, make sure you know your legal rights and what?s support is available to you.?

There is certainly an increasingly abundant support network for new entrepreneurs, offering mentorship programmes, co-working environments and free to use tools. A great starting point is the government?s Business Growth Service.

It is also worth bearing in mind that large businesses appear more open to partnering with smaller enterprises to help them tap into niche markets. With this in mind, consider which businesses in your sector or location have shared interests and how working together could be mutually rewarding, and then get pitching. There really is nothing to lose and business development to gain.

So what are the rewards that come with achieving success as a business owner? In addition to being your own boss and determining the path for your business, Rowlett enjoys some of the perks that come from his normal business spending.

As American Express Cardmembers, the?Rowletts accumulate Membership Rewards? points(1) throughout the year on their business spend and use these reward points to treat staff, family and reward themselves?with a holiday ? as they did recently.?They recommend business owners make the most of incentives like these as just one of the bonuses of success.

Stacey Sterbenz, from American Express Small Business Services, said: ?Cardmembers say to us that that it?s solid financial management and having the fundamentals such as cash flow taken care of that frees them to focus on the vision that inspired them to go it alone in the first place. If we can help with that and enable them to reap rewards in the process we hope to have a positive impact on these small businesses.?

To find out more about how American Express Business Cards could help you manage cash flow, whilst earning rewards on virtually all your spend, visit the American Express website.

* The American Express Small Business Barometer was commissioned by American Express and conducted by market researcher Coleman Parkes in summer 2015. The research polled 500 decision makers in businesses with under 50 employees in the UK.

Terms and conditions:

(1) Membership Rewards points are earned on virtually every full ?1 spent and charged, per transaction. Membership Rewards points are not earned on interest, fees (including default fees), balance transfers, cash advances (including transactions treated as cash), loading of pre paid Cards, American Express Travellers Cheque purchases or foreign exchange transactions; and any amounts that are subsequently re-credited to your Card Account by way of refunds. Visit for full Membership Rewards Terms and Conditions.

Click here for full terms and conditions.

American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.