Laura Tenison's Top Business Tips

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Stylist Team
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Laura Tenison is the founder of JoJo Maman Bébé, a site for chic maternity and baby products. The Managing Director since 1993, she has transformed £50,000 capital into a £27 million business. As one of the women shortlisted for the Stylist Business Ambassador, we asked her to share her tip five tips for business success.

1) Control your cash flow

It doesn’t matter how great a business is, how good the design, how fantastic the service, even if your order book is full to bursting, unless you have complete control over your cash flow your business will fail. So start by forecasting where you will be in terms of your finances in 18 months’ time. We have a five-year forecast, which we update on a monthly basis. It’s even more important for a start-up business, as they are likely to have even bigger cash pressures than an established company or business.

2) Success isn’t all about gut instinct

However much we may like to think it, running a successful fashion business isn’t just about sketching out ideas and then buying the fabrics that you love. It is the combination of solid numerical analysis and great design that makes any business a success. I would never buy stock without looking at the previous sales figures, because you really need to study what has been popular with customers before. What has sold in the past is the key to your future success.

3) It isn’t easy

As a working mother there is no point kidding yourself that it is. But if you’re willing to sacrifice ‘me time’, to be low maintenance, to forfeit the cinema trip and the time at the hairdressers, and to survive on not much sleep then you really can do it. As for the children, I spend a lot of time working from home, so they understand that I need to work for them to eat.

4) A consistent brand is vital

Whether a customer walks into your store, sees your website or reads your catalogue, they need to feel that they are buying into a club. We are all a little tribal about the brands we subscribe to and your specific brand needs to be at the forefront of your mind when you’re making decisions.

5) Relationships matter

When the recession sent our interest rate soaring we had to ask our suppliers for extended credit terms – 199 of 200 agreed. We’d been good to them in the good times and they helped us in the bad, so it is vital to make sure you build strong relationships in order for your business to continue to thrive.

Read more inspiring business advice from fellow finalist entrepreneur Lara Morgan