1. Don’t be afraid to start off small
Not every start-up is going to be the next Virgin or Body Shop. Let’s accept that. And, in fact, not everyone who starts their own business wants to be the next Richard Branson or Anita Roddick. Remember that some 95% of businesses in the UK are small, only a tiny proportion are the corporates that we see on the high street.
Starting small is a really clever way to start. There’s no need to throw everything up in the air and resign from a full-time job to start working on your own. Planning to run your business on a part-time basis for the first few months, even the first year, can be the perfect way to test out not just your business’s suitability to the market but also your suitability to running a start-up!
Starting small can also save you money; not having to take a salary can be the difference between success and failure. And kicking off with a small amount of capital, resources and the basic tools, sensible. Better to start small and work up slowly, than throw everything regardless into something that might not work at all.
2. It’s about you, as much as your idea
Whenever I talk to someone about my work as a Start-up Coach, most people sigh and say ‘I could never start my own business, I don’t have good ideas.’ And whilst that’s, plainly, a pre-requisite; it’s also important that you have the skills to work for yourself.
I don’t just mean professional or vocational qualifications, they are of course important; I mean attributes and behaviours. Running a business takes resilience and confidence; excellent problem-solving and negotiation skills. You have to be organised and independent; a creative thinker, as well as a first class communicator.
Now you won’t be all of those things. No-one is all of those things, not even the most optimistic of entrepreneurs but you will be some of them. The trick is to play to your strengths, and to find someone to fill the gap when it comes to your weaknesses. Take a training course in sales techniques; find a great book-keeper or accountant. Send your website off to a designer, rather than spend night after night poring over something that makes you want to pull your hair out.
We can’t do it all. Accepting that is a great strength in itself.
3. Love what you do
It might surprise you to know that some people start up a business with one goal in mind. They just want to make money. They don’t care what they do, or how they get there, it’s just the end goal of masses of filthy lucre that keeps them going.
Now, I’m not going to say that being motivated solely by money is bad, far from it, but I will say this. Starting a business is seriously hard work. It will take everything you have, and a little bit more. It will take over your life. Even if you aren’t working, you will be thinking about it. 3am will become your best friend. When you are doing something you used to love, you will find yourself thinking about your cashflow. Or a new marketing campaign. You will be out with friends, and have to dash home because you suddenly have a Great Idea and have to get cracking with it. Right now. Believe me, I’ve been there.
Doing it because you love it, because it runs through your veins and excites you more than anything ever is a much better reason for working for yourself than mere money. It needs to be a passion. If it isn’t? Go and find a nice little 9-5 with 4 weeks holiday and a Christmas party. Much better for your sanity. But not as much good for your soul.