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A host of North West entrepreneurs have revealed their tips to success at Insider‘s latest business breakfast.

Nearly 90 people packed into Elliot House in Manchester for the ‘Entrepreneur DNA – What is the secret ingredient?’ event. They heard tips on everything from when to take investment, the challenges of a start-up and being a serial entrepreneur.

David Grimes launched his business – – on the back of his frustrations of queuing up at a Post Office and not being able to send items out as quickly as he wanted. In the last year the workforce has grown from 12 to 35 on the back of taking on £1.5m in investment from North West funders Praetura Capital and Seneca Partners.

He said: “Finding the right idea is often the hardest thing in the whole process. However, when you do, you must wholeheartedly believe in it despite what other people may tell you. In my view, if your idea fixes a problem/frustration you have encountered at some point, then it will be all the stronger as you understand why a solution is needed and the benefits it brings.

“It is really important to develop a solid business plan, however, I don’t believe in taking this to excess. You need to prove a market exists, that there is demand for it and especially do your number crunching to make sure it can scale to meet your ambitions. It’s amazing how many business plans I have seen that have unrealistic forecasts in them so you need to be really careful on this part.”

Mark Hawthorn is a director of Bolton-based Landmark Investments Group, which specialises in buying ground rents. The company has grown profits from £1.2m in 2012.13 to £2.9m in 2013/14.

The 35-year-old said there’s no age barrier to being an entrepreneur. “If you have an idea or concept get it down on paper,” he said. “I run an FCA authorised fund which will make us millions over time which started as me scribbling the concept onto a bit of paper.

“Once you have something tangible you can evolve it and shape it to the point where it becomes real. At the same time if it doesn’t materialise it’s still a great practice run and learning experience for when something else does. You will never get anywhere if you are walking around with a head full of ideas and nothing tangible.”

Warren Jacobs is the managing director of digital acquisition agency Active Win, which has been backed by Betfred co-founder Fred Done. It opened two years ago and is set to reach £2m turnover.

Jacobs said Done was inspirational. “Fred has had more success in business than the majority of people in the world,” he said. “The most important lesson I will try to always carry with me is that just because someone has done well and made some cash, you can still be a nice person.

“Fred found me, he saw a glimmer of potential and it’s his belief that placed me in the right place at the right time. For this I will always be grateful.”

Jamil Khalil is the founder and CEO of Manchester-based social sharing platform Wakelet, which is aimed at changing the way the world uses the internet. Chillingo co-founders Chris Byatte and Joe Wee have both invested in the business.

Khalil said: “I’m working around the clock and I love it. I don’t want anything else. When it’s your business it doesn’t feel like work. The potential is limitless. Having good stories like this for Manchester is everything. It’s vital to always think of the one reason why an idea will work. It has to be the reason why it will work. That reason will make you excited because things happen along the way.”

The other speakers were: Jennie Johnson, CEO of Kids Allowed; Vikas Shah, managing director of Swiscot Group and Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship with MIT Sloan; Gavin Wheeldon, CEO of Purple Wifi; Mark Barlow, founder and CEO of digital training company Applearn; and Luke Massie, owner / founder of Vibe Tickets.