Friday, 31 January 2014

There is something in the air - launching a business

It may be a coincidence but in last month have had 3 separate conversations with people who are setting up/probably setting up/contemplating setting up a new business in our sector. Think it is a definite sign of increased optimism economically but bizarrely enough all three have asked me for my advice on launching something new/going alone.

First point is (before you think it) why on earth ask me/what do I know. And I agree but I guess there have been relatively few successful businesses launch in this sector over last 7 years - so they had a pretty short shortlist to seek counsel.

So here goes in very short form - my top tips

1. An amazing new business idea is a hugely over-rated thing. Most of us are not inventors or visionaries like James Dyson or Mark Zuckerberg, we are not going to invent a hover car or a teleport machine. There is nothing wrong with doing what other people do - just do it a lot better and with a new angle (maybe) And if you are waiting for the big idea. Its probably never going to come.

2. People who are setting up a business but also interviewing for jobs - don't tend to set up a business. If you are going to do it - you have to do it with 100% conviction and experience the paralysing fear exhilaration of going it alone.

3. Abuse your network - talk to everyone and anyone you have ever encountered socially or through business (or family!). This has many benefits - 1. you practise your pitch/business case 2. the people you may be relying on to help you may not/will not or cannot help you 3. but random people will surprise and get you an in to a client.

4. (Most) people will wish you well and will try to help. You have a window of good will and warmth before this new thing is just not new anymore. So....

5. Don't be proud. Accept all offers of help. We were offered virtually free office space by an old client and that was really, really helpful. Let people buy you lunch, pick up the tab. which links into....

6. Keep your costs to a minimum. get the tube not cabs, coffee for meetings not lunch. Don't spend a fortune on your logo and website. Interestingly - on this point I know people who have done the exact opposite to this and been incredibly successful. So I guess the better advice is decide what type of person, business you are. Do you need to walk the walk and act like the big company - if so - make sure you have some investment

7. Don't needlessly give away chunks of your business - for a small amount of seed capital. Surely you can access some funds (savings, house, bank) rather than risk affecting your future earnings for relatively small investment. As above - many would disagree and if you have invented the hover car - I will happily invest.

8. Don't wait to launch before your office, website, brochure is ready. It will never all be exactly ready

and that links to final point - if you are going to do it, do it today and execute the idea violently and repeat and repeat and repeat........until successful.


Good Luck!

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