Start-up companies should focus more on their customers than on raising finance, the CEO of British computer chip designer ARM has said.

CEO Warren East warned that too often, entrepreneurs are so busy looking for investment from venture capitalists that they neglect their customers, that is, the people who provide the long-term support to the business.

"My one piece of advice is, if you have to raise money, make sure you have raised enough money. But then spend your time and effort getting purchase orders from customers. That's how you build a sustainable business," he told the Intellect Annual Regent conference in London today.

He added: "It's the customers who pay your bills."

East also pointed out that being UK-based - 40 percent of ARM's employees are based at its Cambridge headquarters and 50 of the 70 graduates it hires each year are from the UK - is not a barrier to success.

The revenues for the company, which makes chips for smartphones such as the Apple iPhone, are an indicator of this. ARM's profit rose 42 percent to $156.9 million (£99.07m) last year, compared with 2010.

In fact, East said that as well as having access to engineers who are cheaper to employ than those in North America, being British can be a positive differentiator.

"We have always taken a very global outlook. Being based in the UK is a good place to be. [Also] if you turn up in Asia and you are not a Silicon Valley company, you get noticed," said East.