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Bigger and ‘BETA’ than ever

Few will have failed to notice that a large, annual awards event took place this Sunday. Ball gowns were chosen, dinner suits pressed, and gushing acceptance speeches prepared by all of the nominees. That’s right, this weekend the great and the good from the equestrian world descended upon Birmingham’s National Motorcycle Museum for the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) Business Awards. The team from Blacks Solicitors comprised of Charlotte, Helen, James and Paul.

This year marks the third time that Blacks has sponsored the gala dinner and, in particular, the Trade Supplier of the Year Award.  This year competition was particularly fierce; just two points separated the shortlist of nominees.

Battle, Hayward & Bower won by a nose to retain the trophy for a second year on the trot (all puns intended!). Battle’s proud Managing Director, Jim Bowen, gave a heart-felt dedication to the company’s staff and credited the achievement to them, stating “You’ve earned this, not me. Well done!”After the celebrations on the night, there was no time to rest; it was business as usual with another full day at BETA International with a record number of attendees expected through the turnstiles. Those numbers were bolstered on Monday by a special visit from the BBC’s Dragons’ Den star, Deborah Meaden. A self professed “happy hacker”.  Meaden, a twice-daily rider with six horses of her own, was the keynote speaker in the Charles Owen Demonstration Arena. The trade fair visitors turned-out in force to listen to the Dragon’s words of wisdom and of her association with Hoof (the British Equestrian Federation’s Olympic and Paralympic legacy), which encourages more people to take up horse riding or to rediscover their lost love of horses through its flagship programme ‘Take Back The Reigns’

The renowned investor was happy to dispense invaluable business advice, which included:

  • Pricing should be the first question that is considered; what will my target customers pay for this new product and I can I deliver it profitably at that price? If not, think again.
  • Be sure of your target market. On a piece of paper write down all of the characteristics of your intended customer; Who are they? Where do they shop? What do they value? If you don’t know who you’re selling to, how can you target them?
  • Think carefully about how you intend to market your products and business. Cheap advertising space is no use if your customers never see it. Even approaching the right customer in the wrong forum could turn them off. “It’s all about the thought process”.
  • Be prepared to work hard. There are no shortcuts to success in business. “If you want shortcuts, learn to sing and go on the X Factor”.
  • Keep a balance in your life. Don’t neglect the things that are important to you. Be strict with your time planning so that neither you nor your business suffer.
  • Don’t regret failures or missed chances. The entrepreneur is always looking for the next opportunity.  It takes a bit of bravery, stupidity, blind faith and a willingness to take a calculated risk.
  • Instincts count. No matter how good the product, business relationships rarely succeed without trust.
  • ‘Profit’ isn’t a dirty word. A business must make money to be sustainable.
  • Passion is important. However, emotions must not cloud business judgment. “It’s not personal.” Get the right balance between business sense and love for your product.
  • Know what your clients value. Are you trying to be the cheapest or the best? The largest or the most specialised? If the customer expected one and got another, ask yourself where the problem lies. Is your message wrong?
  • Know your brand; it doesn’t stop with the logo. Decide what you want to be known for. If your image is ‘luxurious, soft and muted’, don’t sell something ‘hard, plastic and orange’. It will confuse customers.
  • Research is key. Customers are savvy and no longer take bold claims at face value. Be prepared to back up your product with facts and figures.

All those in business agree that the long road to success starts with a single step, however few can do it alone.

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