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Ann Summers' Jacqueline Gold shares her top business tips

PUBLISHED: 12:45 19 November 2013 | UPDATED: 15:19 19 November 2013

Jacqueline Gold has been running Ann Summers for 30 years

Jacqueline Gold has been running Ann Summers for 30 years

Ann Summers

As chief executive of Ann Summers and Knickerbox, whose head office is in Whyteleafe, Jacqueline Gold knows a thing or two about running a successful business. Here she shares a few of her own top tips

1 Show your passion I believe that passionate people make the best business people. I am always inspired when I meet individuals who show a real passion for their work and their business. You have to love what you do and have a fire in your belly that drives you to succeed; my passion for Ann Summers and the growth of the business still inspires me 30 years on from my first day with the company.

2 Know your target consumer

Understanding the consumer you are trying to reach is absolutely key to any business. Before you launch your business, ensure you do the research that identifies the need for the product or service that you will offer. You must know who you are going to be selling to and understand how they want to be sold to and what they are looking for. If you can identify this in the early days and really get under the skin of your consumer then there is a much greater chance of your business succeeding.

3 Reward your staff

Your staff are your most valuable asset so make sure they know how much you value them and bring them with you as your business grows and develops. Staff play a crucial role in any business, particularly so in the retail and service industry. At Ann Summers, we have a set of ‘PRIDE’ values, which all our staff follows. These values stand for:

• Passionate about our business

• Respectful to each other

• Inclusive in the way we work

• Daring in everything we do

• Experts at what we do

They describe how we approach everything we do at work and importantly the relationships we have with each other and our customers.

We are a unique business and our values celebrate this fact by reflecting the attitudes and behaviours that inspire each of us to step up to the mark. They define how we treat each other, our suppliers, partners and, most of all, our customers.

They also remind us of the kind of people we want to be and the kind of business we want to become, ensuring we deliver the best possible service and experience for our customers.

4 Don’t ignore your competitors

It’s true that imitation is one of the greatest forms of flattery, however, don’t underestimate the wider impact that competitors can have on your business. One of the most important lessons I have learnt in business is to keep a close eye on what competitors and other brands that operate in the same market place are doing. It’s about being aware of your sector and how other businesses are winning, and in some cases, losing customers and how you can learn from this as a business.

5 Respond to changes in the market

No business should ever stand still. For a business to survive, it needs to be able to evolve and change as the market and customer does. Keep an eye on the wider market that you operate in and if similar businesses are making changes, then look at how these changes could benefit your business too. It may be that you discover through this that you can develop your business in a new and exciting way that will ultimately make you more successful.

6 Listen to advice

When you run your own business, you can on occasions become completely consumed by it. Sometimes, the best insight comes from people that are outside of your business and can take a more objective view. When you start your business, ensure you have support in the form of mentors and advisors who will be there as an impartial individual that you can bounce ideas off and receive advice from. You don’t always have to take it but I guarantee you will make better decisions by taking on board the advice you are given.

7 Give your customers something extra

We are all customers and we all know that receiving that added extra makes all the difference when making a purchase – whether it’s gift wrap, a free gift or a discount voucher off your next purchase; these things will always encourage a re-visit and customer loyalty. At Ann Summers, we have just launched a new bra fit service, which gives our customers a real added extra that no other retailer can offer. Our bra fit is totally unique to us, and isn’t just about the physical fit, but how the fit makes that individual feel. We are really positive that this added extra will keep our customers coming back to us and show them that we know them better than any other lingerie retailer on the high street. I would encourage every business to think about what their extra incentive could be; after all, customer loyalty is a must.

8 Get the balance right

Getting the balance between home life and work life is a challenge that will never go away. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do it, just a way that’s right for you. Before you start your business, be honest with yourself as to what you want that balance to look like and make sure you do all you can to put in place a support system that will allow you to achieve this.

9 Make sure the numbers add up

I know it might sound extremely obvious, but running a business is all about making money so make sure that the investments you make and decisions all lead back to allowing you to make money!

10 Never stop loving what you do

Let’s face it, running a business is tough, and I don’t think any business owner I know would ever say differently! So when those tough times hit, remember why you started your business and what you love about it. Sometimes, stepping back and remembering the passion and love you had for your business in those early days can give you the boost you need.

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For more information about Ann Summers, visit their website at annsummers.com. You can find out more about what Jacqueline Gold is up to by following her on Twitter: @Jacqueline_Gold

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