Blog post

Five top tips to become a successful entrepreneur

Within just a few months of graduating, Ed Hollands, a business studies graduate from the University of Derby, took his idea of using commercial lorries and trailers to sell as advertising space and founded his own company, Driven Media by The Advert Man Ltd. He has now appeared on BBC’s Dragons’ Den and secured a £30,000 investment in his business from ‘Dragon’, Jenny Campbell.

By Ed Hollands - 13 February 2018

Here, he shares his top tips on being a successful entrepreneur.

Focus on what you’re good at

Time is money. Why do something you’re not good at if it can be outsourced? This is something that Jenny and her team have helped me to implement since filming the episode of Dragons’ Den. I now have more time to focus on selling and delivering campaigns to drive the business forward.

Have a clear plan

If you don’t know where you should be, how do you know you’re going in the right direction? My mentor, Graham Mulholland, a leading Derbyshire entrepreneur, who I met through the University’s Network of Entrepreneurs, was a huge believer in this and, with the support of Jenny, our plan now has much more detail. We know where we are going and how to get there, and I am excited about the challenges ahead and actually doing it.

No substitute for hard work

There are definitely no shortcuts in business. Business won’t come to you, you’ve got to get out there and earn it. Get up early and get stuff done before everyone else is even stirring. I get up at 5am or 6am regularly and try to focus on important tasks first. I find its best to get these jobs done before any other distractions start rolling in throughout the day.

Market research

Start by finding out who your customers are and talk to them. Not doing this from the beginning was the biggest mistake I made in the early days. By doing this, you know exactly where to position your business and who you should be talking to.

Learn from the mistakes of others

There is nothing like the experience and failures of others, particularly if they run something similar. I’m forever asking people that I meet what I can learn from them and their experience, reading books about other’s business journeys and absorbing as much information as I can. Yes, I’ve made mistakes along the way, but not as many as I would have without this tactic.

I hope these tips will help others to realise their aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur. They have certainly served me well and hope it inspires others to take their ideas to the next level and just go for it!

To find out how Ed used the skills and networks he built during his Business Management degree at the University of Derby to start his own business, watch this video.

For more information about studying Business at the University of Derby, visit

About the author

Ed Hollands
BA Business Studies graduate and Founder DrivenMedia

University of Derby Business Studies graduate and founder of DrivenMedia, as seen on Dragons' Den successfully winning investment from 'dragon' Jenny Campbell.