HOW TO FAST TRACK YOUR BUSINESS: JOHN HOWIE, CO-FOUNDER & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF LINTBELLS

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John Howie, 44, co-founded Hertfordshire pet care specialist Lintbells in 2006, and it now sells products such as joint, skin and coat supplements to health-conscious dog, cat and horse owners in more than 15 countries. It ranked at No 61 in the 2016 Sunday Times Fast Track 100.

What inspired you to start your business?

We spotted a technical and commercial gap to build a better consumer proposition in the pet health market and knew that if we didn’t go for it, we’d spend the rest of our lives wondering ‘what if…’.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Switching our business model from B2B to B2C about three months into our company’s life, having already spent a significant chunk of our start-up capital. It was a hard slog, but ultimately has enabled us to build a far stronger brand with incredible loyalty.

What has been your best business decision?

Focussing a significant amount of time and resource on developing our company culture and team engagement has helped the entire business. It has enabled us to develop a really motivated, high-performing team and gives the whole business great energy.

What has been your worst business decision?

A couple of years ago we strayed into product areas that really weren’t core to our brand values in the hope of driving some quick revenue. It didn’t work and confused both our customers and our team, but on the positive side it taught us a great deal about our true brand proposition and has enabled a much more focussed approach to our brand and future growth.

Which business leader would you most like to share a meal with, and why?

Richard Branson. Clearly a phenomenal business leader, but his focus on philanthropy and supporting budding entrepreneurs both here and overseas is what I admire the most.

What company do you most admire, and why?

The Fever-Tree story is fantastic – a great example of a company successfully disrupting a very established market through focus on quality sourcing, superior products and great branding and marketing.

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