My next topic of blogs is all about starting a business in the right way to ensure long term success. In fact, if you read long enough I’m going to be taking you through every stage of growing your business from back bedroom to swanky office. In this first lesson I want to ask a question about whether or not you should be starting up in the first place?
More Negativity Please
I’m going to start off with something that might surprise you and say..I wish there were more people discouraging business start ups. I really do. It sounds harsh but I think a lot of people are encouraged into a bad situation by those around them. Friends and family tell them it’s a great idea, and to chase their dream when in fact it is not. You often see people on Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank who have put their life savings into the most awful idea you can imagine. The internet is littered with motivational quotes and encouraging noises but working for yourself is a hard road. You are making a commitment to 3-4 years of your life quite often before you start making enough to live.
This is a little internal expressions some of my lecturers had. FOFO which stands for ‘Fuck Off and Find Out.” and this should definitely be the starting point for most start up businesses. Spend a lot of time fining out about the industry, clients and going rates. Ask other businesses for advice where possible, ask other professionals for advice. I don’t believe that everyone needs a 400 page business plan but certainly you should be able to answer the two fundamental questions. ‘Where are you going to find work?’ and ‘’How much work do you need to eat?’ I will confess that there wasn’t a massive amount of research done for me in starting up, but every week without fail I would be down the library, getting any and all books regarding running a business and I surrounded myself with contacts in and around the sector.
One of the key areas to think about are what exactly your start up costs will and should be. When I was researching what made successful companies…successful they mostly had one thing in common…money. Most big corporate business began already having a fair chunk of money to invest to begin with. Having some money is a distinct advantage but that doesn’t mean you should go crazy.
I will guarantee you that nearly everyone’s business looks different to how they started. Nearly everyone will drift into a different sector or find a niche in a particular area. This is why I would advise starting up in as ‘lean’ form as possible. Try and figure out the lowest monthly costs for running your business.
No one expects you to fully flesh out what you plan to do and where you plan to go in your business, as I said above you should be able to answer the basic questions of where will you find work, how much will it costs to run your business and how much work do you need to survive in theory. The other key question you should consider is what success looks like for you. Sometimes it feels like business is a pissing contest and everyone around you is doing well, but often those who go slow and steady win the race. Define what you’d like to achieve. It could be some extra spending money, it could be to be self-sustaining. Whatever it is the difference between a dream and a plan is writing it down.