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Don’t make the same mistakes as Edison – make your business work for you and become one of the SMEs that accounts for £1.8 trillion each year.

Don’t make Edison’s mistakes – turn your lightbulb moment into a commercial success

Thomas Edison is arguably the greatest inventor of all time… but he could be the worst entrepreneur. His commercial incompetence is backed up by records, which show his investors removed him from the commercial side of every business he started.

Jim Colston, a business expert at the University of Chester, said: “It does not always follow that the brightest sparks, with the best inventions, properly identify a real need for their products or services, to base a successful business. According to some sources, failure rates among new businesses are as high as 80%.”

Jim said: “The importance to the economy of entrepreneurs and SMEs is clear and so are the main reasons they fail. However, most of these reasons are completely avoidable.”

Supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs by delivering the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme, the University of Chester aims to help businesses grow, thrive and boost the region’s economy.

 “The vision and skills we have across the region give Cheshire a rich vein of entrepreneurial talent and the facilities and incubators that exist, such as the University’s Thornton Science Park, mean there are incredible opportunities for small businesses and in turn, incredible potential for the regional economy.”

It is with support from specialists, such as Jim, that SMEs can beat the start-up pitfalls and turn their ideas into profitable enterprises.

Jim explained: “The risk and uncertainty in starting a business can be affected by external and internal influences and there is a need to understand the contribution of these influences on the success or failure of a particular enterprise.”

Some external influences can be outside the control of a small business such as the effects of Brexit. Others can be recognised and mitigated, by changing the product offering or adopting new routes to market.

Internal influences are usually driven by lack of knowledge, research, planning and realism. In her research, ‘Here Are the Start-up Failure Rates by Industry’, Kristan Pryor found 46 percent of start-ups fail due to ‘incompetence’ and a further 41 percent due to unbalanced or lack of experience.

Jim continues: “To create successful businesses, entrepreneurs need more than great ideas. Just look at J Murray Spengler, inventor of the upright vacuum cleaner, one of the most successful inventions of all time.

“It was WH Hoover who commercialised the product – he is the guy who made his name because he knew how to commercialise the product, while poor Spengler is all but forgotten.

“Innovation is simply not enough. If an entrepreneur truly wants to succeed, the right advice or mentoring is vital.”

Jim’s view is supported by research from O2, published in The Independent. 'Small Talk: The high failure rate for start-ups can be reduced by better support' highlights how incubation and accelerator programmes can increase survival rates to levels as high as 92 percent, as well as showing how businesses taking part in these programmes deliver significantly higher profitability.

Through the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme, Jim and the team at the University of Chester can help entrepreneurs and SMEs turn their ideas into commercial successes.

Backed by the European Regional Development Fund and the cutting-edge facilities and support available at the University, a programme of fully-funded support can help the region’s businesses bridge the gap between concept and commercial success. Read how other businesses are benefitting from the support.

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