Step ups

Expert View: Lord Bilimoria CBE, Founder, Cobra Beer

6th December 2017

British home businesses have much to offer.
I’m thrilled to see that so many are pushing to take their business to the next level.

It takes guts, but ambition is a powerful thing and there is much to be gained by pushing onwards, whether that’s to new premises, new markets or new product lines.

Starting and growing a business is one of the most exciting and challenging things you’ll ever do. I started out in my Fulham flat in 1989. I was determined to create an authentic Indian larger, having been disappointed with the options on offer here in the UK. I took a risk, quit my career as an accountant and haven’t looked back. Cobra is now sold in 40 countries worldwide.

As an entrepreneur, you absolutely need faith in yourself and belief in what you’re doing. With this passion, you’ll be able to convince anyone that you can achieve what you’re setting out to do and that your vision is well-founded. When a young, growing business has to tackle the credibility gap, self-belief and strong values go a long way.

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In my experience if you want to grow your business and take it to the next level, networks are essential. I’ve faced some serious challenges myself along the way and I firmly believe great support from my family, along with a strong network of friends, has helped me through it. I’m also a believer in business networks – there’s nothing as useful as speaking to other entrepreneurs who have been in your position. They can either offer advice or simply the words of encouragement you need to push on.

Hold on to your curiosity and never stop learning. There are many ways you can increase your skills whether it’s listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos or enrolling in evening courses. There are always new ways to think about business and you’ve got to be flexible in your mindset and your abilities.

Mostly, I would say don’t be afraid to fail. As long as you learn from your mistakes, nothing is a waste of time. We learned early on that customers didn’t like our original name, Panther. We had to delay our first shipment and redesign the brand but it was worth it. We listened to our customers and didn’t let it hold us back when we put a step wrong.

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