I met with some friends today who are thinking of setting up their own business and were looking for advice on where to start. Here are my top tips for those of you thinking about embarking on the most wonderful adventure as an entrepreneur;
Coffee The most valuable thing for any start up is to reach out and connect with people who have started/running their own business or have expertise in the areas that you needed more information on. At the start you are forming your idea into a real business. Friends, friends and colleagues can be a great source of helping you develop those ideas and make them stronger and better. An hour spent with someone for the price of a cup of coffee can have an enormous impact helping you to generate new ideas or road test your concepts with an objective person. LinkedIn is such a great tool for making these connections with people. Just reach out and ask the simple question …fancy meeting me for a coffee?
Business plan Writing a “Business Plan” is not an exercise or document for other people. It is the foundation of your future business. It forces you focus on answering the right questions: what is your mission, how will you finance your business, who are your customers, how will you attract those customers, what will be the main revenue of your business? Essentially it is your roadmap to success. It encourages you to think and examine all aspects of your business so you focus on the right things that will create revenue. The Internet is filled with templates and the local Enterprise Boards are a great source of support (training and mentoring) in helping you build a good business plan.
Training Up-skilling is an important aspect of any career development. As a new business, training is a great way to inspire you to think differently. It also gives you the opportunity to take a day out of your office to focus on your business. The Enterprise Boards and other government agencies run great, cost effective training programmes on a wide range of topics that can help start up business. At under €150 you can get top class training on any area you would like to develop from tax to marketing, social media to accounting. Training will help you keep inspired, motivated and drive your business forward.
Mentoring As the old saying goes “Two heads are better than one”! As a SME you have more limited intellectual resources due to scale. In a normal work environment you may have many people inputting into the direction of your business and the variety of backgrounds help to view problems and opportunities from different angles. It is important to have a group of people who you trust and respect to input into your business. Whether it is someone you know or someone you pay, it is worth a lot to your business to have a sounding board to your ideas and plans to make them as robust as possible.
Support There are so many bad news stories in the media at the moment that you could easily lose your nerve to start up a business in the current economic climate! I recommend that you surround yourself with positive people. It is really important to keep your energy up when starting your own business. Training, mentoring and networking really help with this as you meet people who are looking to forge ahead with their business.
Networking There are people are naturally good at networking and others find it more difficult. A trick that helped me enjoy networking events was to focus not on selling my services but on the acquisition of knowledge. At every event I find I come out with some piece of knowledge that can help my business. In fact all of my business thus far has come from networking whether through ex colleagues, network groups or functions. They are great for sharing ideas and inspiring your business in the future.
So for those of you who are thinking about setting up a new business go forth and prosper….and don’t forget to enjoy those coffees!
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