MY BEST ... 'Hiring Julian Granville, my number two. You absolutely must choose the right person, someone you like and can trust implicitly. The skills needed to start a business are different from those needed to run one, and he has strengths to match my weaknesses. I can bounce ideas off him - no one has a monopoly on good ideas. But don't listen to everything that people tell you for nothing. It's not all worthless but most of it is, and it's very difficult to work out the difference. I found that ignoring all the advice I was given when I started the business was a good decision.'
MY WORST ...
'Doing too much. There are so many opportunities to sell new products in new ways that it is easy to lose focus. You end up doing things half-heartedly, like the launch of our homeware range. It didn't sell because the range was too small and not promoted properly. I've wasted money doing lots of things badly when I should have been doing a few things well.
Now I always keep our core business in mind when I'm looking for new ideas.
I also wish we'd had proper management accounts from day one. They're vital for running a business but for years I didn't keep them. I started in 1995 - better late than never.'