Secrets of Success: Adrian Pike, Anesco CEO

With economic recovery expected to be driven by small business growth, the Forum of Private Business is seeking stories from thriving firms as part of its Get Britain Trading campaign in order to pass on the secrets of success to other entrepreneurs.

Anesco Ltd helps homeowners, local authorities and businesses reduce carbon emissions. CEO Adrian Pike started the company in 2010 with COO Tim Payne.

Last year, turnover reached £21 million and the company is on target to reach £100 million by 2014. Over the past 18 months it has grown to 80 permanent staff. Here, Mr Pike discusses some of the reasons behind Anesco’s success.

What are the most important things to remember when starting and running a company?

Have fun! Remember why you set the company up and what you wanted it to achieve. You do need people that ensure you keep your feet on the ground and don’t get carried away. A great team helps ensure the business has a balanced view. Celebrate success regularly – but don’t do this on an individual basis, do it as a team.

What are the main secrets of success entrepreneurs need to know?

Hard work and determination. You don’t need to be the best at something to succeed but if you lack hard work then you probably won’t get there. Also, don’t try to do everything yourself – surround yourself with great people.

Understand your market and what influences will affect it short, medium and long term. Make sure that your sales team are full engaged in this knowledge as they are the ones who are the face of the organisation and need to be the most informed.

Do you have any tips for managing suppliers, customers and other business relationships effectively?

I think the art of face to face communication has been lost with the advances made in mobile devices and email. I’m one of the few people who does everything they can to avoid the use of email and texting and always tries to speak to people directly.

I think this has a number of benefits but ultimately improves the level of understanding, support, orders and market intelligence as conversations are multidimensional rather than one-dimensional.

Building long term relationships with your full supply chain and clients is critical when times are good but essential when you hit the inevitable bumps in the road.

How do you handle all the legal red tape?

It is important to understand the law in a practical sense as lawyers generally put up barriers and find reasons not to do something, which can be frustrating and might lead you to take risks you don’t fully understand.

Make sure external law firms you use understand your sector and the specific legislation in which it operates. Building relationships and being prepared to pay a fair rate rate for a lawyer always pays dividends – a cheap one could cost you a fortune in the long term. It is also important to hire a good in-house lawyer as soon as possible.

Any finance & cash-flow or tax tips?

You should spend time selecting an auditor that has great tax advice within its team. Tax today is very complex and very fast moving so your auditor should be challenged hard to make sure they have the right tax advice in-house. I once demanded that tax people presented a business pitch to us so I could see the whites of their eyes!

In today’s market, cash is key and we profile cash on a daily basis to ensure that the board has a full understanding of our cash position. It’s not that we don’t have cash in the bank, I think it’s good practice to understand how the cash flows in and out of the business and ensure you don’t overexpose yourself, as enthusiasm and overconfidence can easily impact this.

Throughout my time in my business career the term ‘cash is king’ has always been an understated phrase. Borrowing money is difficult so if you have cash, use it and ensure you make it work for you.

If you were in Government what would you do to help other entrepreneurs

I’m sorry to say that relying on Government policy to make success is very difficult. I don’t blame the Government in any way but just think it creates uncertainty and sudden change, which is never helpful.

I believe you need to come up with a business model that is sustainable without Government help and be nimble enough to adapt to policy change.