Making the leap from your comfortable well paid full time employed position into your very own business venture can be hugely rewarding. No doubt it is something that you have been planning for what seems like forever, and you’ve always had a hankering to work for yourself. Gone are the days of performance management reviews, answering to someone more senior and completing other people’s delegated tasks.
However, while this sounds like pure bliss, you’ll also have to welcome the untold stress of no longer having a regular income, not knowing how your business will fair in its first few months of trading and figuring out how best to implement your very own business vision. Launching a startup is a testing time, but with the determination and drive you inherently possess you can make your money making venture succeed and thrive.
It pays to take notice of what other leading figures within your industry are doing to make their companies become market leaders. There are some fundamental lessons that every emerging entrepreneur can learn from their more experienced peers.
It’s OK to fail
While it’s not great to see your company fold within the first twelve months of trading, it is more than ok and even encouraged that you experiment with your business model and explore alternative ways of doing things, whether this is providing a service or delivering a product. The greatest entrepreneurs make mistakes, learn from them and then come back fighting. It is valuable to learn how not to do things as well as how to do things.
You will have to learn very quickly that there will be fewer individuals around you who are equipped to help you make decisions. Therefore, you’ll have to be more instinctive and trust your gut. This doesn’t mean making rash decisions; it means learning the ability to think with clarity and prevent indecision from creeping into your persona. If you make a mistake, put your hands up and move on. It won’t be your last.
Learn when to step back
If you come from a financial background and you understand everything there is to know about funding, loans and investments, the chances are you’ll want to keep your accounting in-house rather than outsource. At the same time, you might not be the most adept individual at advertising or marketing or HR. By selecting to outsource business functions like digital marketing to a specialist such as Monkee-Boy, you are tapping into an expertise not available within your business. While it may seem like an expensive financial outlay, the rewards you reap in terms of the time that it frees up alongside the exceptional advertising or marketing campaign you receive from it can pay you back ten-fold.
It’s very common, when you’re at the helm of a startup, to feel very protective as if your business is your newborn child. While you will always have your company’s best interests at heart, you need to know when to loosen the reigns and delegate certain business function to see your new money making venture grow.
Build a strong team
As your business grows, you will inevitably need to hire staff. It’s vital that you create a cohesive team that buys into your business vision and understands their vital role within your well-oiled machine. It’s all very well and good hiring the best-qualified individual with a wealth of experience within the industry, but they may not fit the ethos that you are trying to build.
It’s important that you meet the candidates you are seeking to employ. Get to know them on a personal level, see how they interact with your already established team and encourage them to ask you questions. A positive and worthwhile interview is always a two-way process.
Try and pay slightly above the industry standard. By doing this, you are not only attracting the best candidates, but you’re also showing your team that they are valued, and you appreciate their efforts. By communicating with your staff regularly and celebrating your successes together, you’ll be able to motivate your team to work hard and achieve the goals set out in your business vision.
Don’t undersell yourself
Consultancies up and down the country seemingly charge an extortionate rate for one commodity: time. Time is the most valuable asset that an entrepreneur has to offer. It doesn’t matter whether you are working from home handcrafting the most bespoke and top quality greetings cards or importing and selling kids toys, it’s vital that you factor in your time and effort.
Just because the birthday cards that you make cost just 20p, this doesn’t mean your mark up should be a simple 100% on top of this figure. How much money are you charging for labour? What is the delivery cost? Did you need to utilise the Internet to produce the product? What about printer ink, fuel costs, electricity… the list is endless. Before you know it, you might actually be underselling your item and making no profit at all. Make a list of every single overhead no matter how small and then work out your ideal retail price.
Don’t sit still
Even if you have only just set out on your business venture, if you see a gap in the market or a niche that you can tap, go for it. As long as you are not compromising the quality of what you are already undertaking there is no harm in exploring new options for growth. However, at the same time, you need to know your limits.
If you are a shop based enterprise, don’t be thinking about opening up a new premises within the first three months because your turnover looks healthy. Give your business time to bed in and a chance to weather any potential storms that may come your way. Keep your finger on the industry pulse, your mind active and enjoy networking to gauge any new opportunities that might present themselves.
Keep the faith
It can be hard to remain optimistic, focused and determined when things seem to be taking a downturn. Just because you may be having a slump in sales, your profit margins are decreasing, or your staff team are lacking the morale they once had doesn’t mean your business is doomed to failure. You need to be solution minded and work out ways to rectify these issues. Do you need a staff away day? Do you need to improve communication with your staff? Ask for their opinions and work out a way that you can come together in a more cohesive way.
Every business, especially startups, has a volatile first few months as they find their feet and place within their market. Don’t panic and keep an eye on your figures. Try to analyse why your profits may be down and see if incentivising your customer base, providing a discount or implementing a ‘refer a friend’ scheme may help. It might be a seasonal slump. If this is the case, you will need to mitigate this in the future.
Becoming your own boss is terrifying. But you wanted to embark on this entrepreneurial journey for a reason. You are following a passion, doing what you love, and you’ve taken a courageous step to get to this point. Follow this advice, and you have every chance of making your money making venture a success.