Author: Christine Nicholson
If you have been thinking about starting a business or simply not working for someone else but are stuck for an idea, then start with the thing that you are most passionate about! Working for yourself (not the same as being an entrepreneur, but a good start) should not be swapping a soulless, dream-crushing job for another one with less security, more hours and the additional burden of being book-keeper, cleaner and “shop-keeper” too. Yet many people find that this is their reality when they take the leap from paid employment.
Passion alone is not enough to make a potential business idea a success and the most successful business owners often start their journey with one idea and it morphs into something else. One of the principle problems is that many a business owner thinks that their idea is a no-brainer and that simply by setting up to offer their product or service will be enough to attract willing buyers.
I have come across many business owners that did no market research at all before investing their time, money and happiness into a business which did not differentiate itself at all from the rest of the market place. Yet even marginal differentiation can increase the chances of success 10-fold. And its not just about talking “customer service”! Every business says they want to serve their customer in the best way – the ones that succeed are the businesses that don’t talk about it but DO IT.
Only about 50% of new businesses survive the first 5 years, but that is better odds than you might think but there are 3 factors that will improve your chances of success.
Create A Business Plan
Whilst many a business owner has run for the hills before sitting down and writing a business plan, it does not have to be a complicated process. And its not only about numbers. Writing the plan requires you to think about what your vision is and what problem in the market you are trying to solve. Questions like who is your customer (big clue here, it isn’t everyone), what time frame is realistic for your launch, what revenue model are you using and, importantly, how will you make the business profitable.
Recommended reading: COBRA database available in CBL and The Beer Mat Entrepreneur, Mike Southon.
Recommended CBL seminar: An introduction to business start-up
Don’t Spend Money on Swag
In the early days its really easy to get carried away with logo printed freebies to hand out, fancy offices to operate out of and non-essential staff. Testing out whether you have a viable business is much more important before getting carried away. Spending money on what the business needs rather than what you think it should have is essential. If you are spending money make sure the activity is generating revenue, reducing expenditure elsewhere or both.
Recommended reading: The Lean Start-Up, Eric Ries
Be Productive, Not Busy
A wise man once told me “only do what’s necessary to get a sale” and in the early days of that business I had found myself doing the books, creating to-do-lists and generally being really busy being busy – all in a classic distraction activity to avoid something that I found challenging, such as SALES! This was reiterated years later when I established another business that required me to step outside my comfort zone.
Make sure that you engage in activity that is “Getting and Keeping Customers” because that is the only way you will be a success. Every business involves admin, accounting and actual delivery of the product or service – but none of that matters if you do not have a regular trail of customers.
Recommended Reading: Build Your Business in 90 Minutes a Day, Nigel Botterill / Martin Gladdish
Christine is an author, speaker and Accredited Member of the Associate of Business Mentors who helps business founders significantly change business outcomes and with it their quality of life. She saves them THOUSANDS and increases the value of their businesses by MILLIONS. Since 2000 she has generated over £300m of crystalised value in business exits.
The published author of 2 critically acclaimed business books, 5 Minute Finance and What’s Your Profit Score, which has been described as “the most useful business book of the year”, she is currently writing the next two books.
Christine will be doing a seminar at the City Business Library on 25 September, 10:30-12:30 – Knowing your numbers for successful business growth.