I’m 27 and have recently completed my graduate training scheme with a food retailer. What’s my next step and how do I find out what is out there?

Congratulations on recognising that there is never time to stand still with career development. It’s a great time to take stock of what skills you feel competent in and where there are gaps. Having moved around the business, what departments turned you on? Where did the adrenaline flow? This is not the time to stay within your comfort zone, you need to take risks and ensure you’re making your CV as rounded and broad as possible.

It’s time to start putting the tentacles out to see what associated businesses are up to, but don’t jump too quickly. You’d be amazed how many opportunities there are in your current business that need to be uncovered.

A few weeks ago I was privileged to meet some of the young managers at Oxford who were attending the BSSA retail summer school. This and similar courses would open your eyes to opportunities and give you a stepping stone to becoming one of the next great retail leaders.

The chief executive has launched a cost-saving initiative. I wouldn’t mind, but this is the third time in three years and this time I have been asked to join a team to formulate proposals. What the hell do you say when you’ve already saved every penny you can?

You’ve never saved every penny you just haven’t spotted where the savings are to be made. This is a common topic in coaching and interesting thoughts come from unexpected parts of each business.

As a business leader you should be talking about your cost base every day, not just annually. And you can be certain that if your behaviour towards costs is seen to be lax, it will affect the whole business. A great place to start is spending a day ‘signing the cheques’ and seeing where money is really going. I’ve never seen an expenses regime that doesn’t have a hole in it. Try a random expense claim audit at all levels you will be amazed at what you find.

People are probably your biggest cost. How well do you monitor absenteeism? This is a drain on resources and too big to leave to HR’s monthly or even annual statistics.

Have a look at your travel budgets. It was amazing how much smarter we all worked when snow paralysed the country. Finally, as technology marches on, what savings are now available? I have been surprised both by how much can be saved by e-auctions and by the stubbornness of directors who refuse to acknowledge this.

Cost-saving is not only essential for the bottom line it is therapeutic and makes a business work better. Enjoy!