Five top tips for starting up in business
Although 14 years is a relatively short amount of time in the grand scheme of things, it feels like a very long time ago that I started Beaming. It is not so long ago, however, that I don’t remember just how daunting it felt!
Starting a business can be a particularly scary time, particularly if you are used to the comfort of the salary and perks that go with working at a very large company, which is why it is important for those that do take the leap to be optimistic.
Confidence in the future has fallen amongst leaders of small technology business here in the UK. But even while Brexit, a global economic slowdown and digital skills shortages loom large, it is important to remember there has never been a ‘perfect’ time to start a business and that success relies increasingly on being open, adaptable and incredibly resilient.
I’ve been given some good advice over the years that remains relevant for anyone thinking of setting up in business today and has helped me put together these five tips for starting up in business.
- Be prepared to change strategy quickly. When you start trading it is unlikely that things will go exactly to plan. If you are keeping a close eye on your customers’ behaviour and your marketplace, however, other unexpected opportunities may arise. Some of these may end up being a better route for your business than your original plan. We started Beaming to provide fast, secure and resilient internet services to the residential market, but it soon turned out that it was actually business customersthat benefitted the most from the level of support we could offer.
- Take advice. Mentors have been an important part of my career and the success of Beaming so far.There is good business support out there and it is definitely worth having advisors who have in depth knowledge of areas where you feel less clued up. Choose these people wisely. They must suit your personality and have real experience of the subject on which they will advise, if they are going to make the right kind of impact on your business.
- Do not be put off if you think you have a great idea. There will be plenty of people who do not like taking risks and who can appear discouraging but they do not have the same view of the situation as you do. If they did, there wouldn’t be a business opportunity. I attended a workshop in the early days of Beaming where I was given negative (but well intentioned) feedback from someone that didn’t know the business broadband market like I did. I took on board some of his advice, but was confident enough in my own industry knowledge and the strength of our idea not to be put off entirely. Listen to advice and be open to learning from the experience, but have the strength and determination to do things the way you want to.
- Never stop learning. Learn from your mistakes and learn from the experience of others. Take up opportunities for formal training when offered and access business peer to peer learning groups, of which I am a big fan. Running your own business is exciting but it can also be lonely, especially when you have made a mistake, so talking issues through with other businesses in a confidential forum can really help to spur you on.
- Watch the pennies, but don’t scrimp on the important stuff. As a start-up it is important that you don’t waste money. This doesn’t, however, mean being so tight on costs that the business suffers. Yes, look for opportunities to minimise spending where possible and don’t be wasteful. Just like the fact that a good accountant will actually save you money in the long run, spending a little extra money on a decent internet connection, for example, will help you save money in other areas by enabling you to use things like cloud computing. It should also mean less internet downtime, help ensure your valuable computer assets are protected from cyber security threats and provide access to trained professionals that can help you in the event of problems.