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Flashback to 1997: Catching up with Steve Toze

Wed, 14 November 2012

Steve Toze was in the South West Regional Final of the Shell LiveWIRE Awards in 1997 with his business, Shred or Dead (now Shred Limited).
We caught up with Steve to find out how business is going…

What can you remember about your involvement with Shell LiveWIRE?
I was nominated for the award by my Bank Manager at NatWest, he thought we stood a good chance. We had to put on a presentation and I had to do a 'Dragon's Den' style panel interview, in which I remember being told to calm down because I was so excited about my business!

How have things changed for you since you won your Shell LiveWIRE award?
Shred Magazine grew into Shred Limited, a creative design agency. We also have a publicity and events business. All of my businesses specialise in the outdoor sports market. Of course we also still produce Shred Mountain Bike Magazine.

How have you had to adapt as an entrepreneur over the years?
I think part of being an entrepreneur is being able to commit yourself and work really hard, most things fail because the owners didn't work hard enough. In the early days I liked the idea of having my own business but in the past 5 years I have really learned how to make a formula that works. Our business needs to change rapidly and getting used to these changes and trying to lead them rather than being led is probably the most important element of my businesses today.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have overcome in business?
Cash flow is the biggest obstacle facing every entrepreneur. The model of business in the current climate requires individuals to have enough assets to underwrite their own risks, this kills entrepreneurship and leaves most creative thinkers with no way to get a business off the ground unless it can effectively be done on a shoestring. I'd like to say that we've overcome this but success just magnifies the problem for most businesses if continued growth is on the agenda.

What are your top 3 tips for a young entrepreneur who is about to set up in business?
1. Make a profit. If you can't make a profit then you don't actually have a business.
2. Don't spend the cash. Set a budget for everything that is not 'cost of sales' and stick to it. Enjoy some of your profit - but not all of it.
3. Get on top of your cash flow. A good accountant will help here but failed cash flow will mean a failed business, even if sales are good.

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