Start-up, set-back, turnaround, grow

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

(Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)


I know the importance of a business plan, in fact if you read my last blog you’ll know how much emphasis I put on working on it as the backbone of your business and making sure you’ve thought everything through.

But that’s not really the whole story . . . at least not as a finished, set-in-stone document.

Without a business plan at the start, you could easily end up like Alice – not sure where to go, starting without any real idea of where you’re hoping to end up and heading off in whatever direction looks good at the time.

But what happens when you have planned (and planned well) and still hit a dead-end, find the reality doesn’t match the plan and the direction you set off in looks bleak?

It’s this point that you need to be able to step back, take a new look at what’s in front of you and perhaps move in a different direction – it doesn’t always mean your idea was bad, you may just have set up the wrong business model.

Ian Tenant and Gloria McNeil started Local Roots to provide seasonal edible crops to local businesses and the public within a 100 mile radius of Peterborough, and it started well. However, they soon realised that the initial projections they’d relied on in their business plan were off – to the point that the business, as they were operating it, wasn’t viable.

As they explained to the audience at our recent New Business Network, they didn’t pack it all in and go back to the day job, instead they’ve moved into providing edible crops via hydroponic units that they sell into catering providers.  From growing to plate being measured in food metres (as opposed to miles) Local Roots is looking at an exciting future.

Following Local Roots, we heard from Phil the owner of Device Revive, a mobile phone recycling business, about the journey the company’s been on.

Device Revive started with two directors working closely together on the venture, however it soon became clear that as well as needing to move into office space so they could achieve a better work/life balance, their roles were falling into a pattern of correcting each other’s work rather than moving the business forward.

After calling in an external expert to help them shape their processes, they were able to focus on growing the business rather than getting stuck in a cycle of discussing the best way to develop.

Ultimately the directors parted company, but Phil is running a much stronger company with clear growth plans and processes in place.

These are just two local examples of where reality has crashed the party, but in the face of this both businesses have emerged stronger and more innovative – and it’s this that will stand them in a strong position for future growth.

Testing an idea and being willing to accept change is fundamental to growth and is the cornerstone of innovation – something Peterborough has built into its DNA (hence the project)

So if you find yourself at a fork in the road like Alice, step back, reassess, look for external help (you’d be surprised how much help is out there; Opportunity Peterborough can guide you) and keep moving…


…so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”  


For more information on the free help and support available to your business, contact Opportunity Peterborough on 01733 317417 or email