Get back to basics

Former Apprentice winner and founder of online retail hub Chiconomise Michelle Dewberry offers her three tips for getting any business back on the road to growth

Don’t go it alone

If you are struggling with your business, one of the best things you can do is to get an independent third party to give you business advice. A consultant can come into your business, look at it impartially and give you a frank assessment of what you are doing right and wrong. You then have to take that advice on board and be prepared to change what you’re doing. I have taken my own business advice and use a mentor who guides me and gives me no-nonsense feedback.

Keep your customers

It’s more important than ever to focus on customer service. I’ve had dealings with a few companies, small, medium and large, that have really poor customer service. When you call them they don’t respond, or it takes them days to get back to you, and by that point you have gone somewhere else. As an SME, you have to stay on top of your customer service. While we’re in a tough economy, there’s so much choice out there for consumers, and competition for their business, that 
if you are complacent or lazy, they will ditch you and go elsewhere.

Network

You need to think about people who can help you and your company. When I moved into the internet and technology sector, I didn’t know a huge amount about it, so I wrote down a long list of people who I felt might be able help me. I contacted every single one 
of them saying, “You don’t know me, but I respect you and your business, and I wondered if you could meet me for a quick coffee to pick your brains.” Some of them responded, plenty didn’t, but of the ones that did get back to me, some
have become good acquaintances and even friends. I really feel that you have to do things like that – don’t get hung up on the ones who never get back in touch, simply focus on those who do and make the most of the opportunity.