Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Setbacks Can Lead to Further Success; Small Business

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Setbacks Can Lead to Further Success; Small Business

Article excerpt

Byline: By Iain Laing

ENTREPRENEURS who suffer setbacks can come back fighting to lead their businesses to bigger and better things, a North-East conference was told.

The Entrepreneurs Forum's third annual SME conference, this year entitled Above and Beyond brought the young leaders of some of the UK's most exciting businesses to the region. They came with the inspiring message that determination and vision bring success and that even setbacks should be grasped for the lessons that can be learned.

As one of the original panellists on TV's Dragon's Den, Rachel Elnaugh's fame came on the back of her success both in building a business and also in its dramatic crash.

After 18 lonely, soul-destroying months and spending her pounds 50,000 savings getting the business off the ground - a time she calls The Pit - her idea to sell experiences, including pounds 20m trips into Space, eventually turned Red Letter Days into a company that turned over a total of pounds 100m.

Believing her success was a fluke, her mistake was to listen to management consultants and agree to appoint a CEO, which only 15 months later resulted in the company suffering a pounds 4.7m loss. "You are at your most vulnerable when everything is going well. You think you've got the Midas touch and become too ambitious," she warned. "It goes to show how quickly things can go wrong when you take your eye off the ball."

Unable to access millions held in the bank and facing pounds 2m in bank charges, the company went into insolvency, only to be scooped up the next day by Rachel's fellow Dragons Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis.

Rachel, a mother of five boys, now runs a business from home which includes developing an entrepreneurship profiling test and inspiring and motivating young entrepreneurs.

Michelle Mone, whose bra company MJM International has become the biggest designer lingerie brand in the UK, found her entrepreneurial skill at an early age in the east end of Glasgow when her parents were unable to work and she was forced to earn a living as a teenager. …

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