Over the years I have worked as a volunteer business advisor for schools and for the (fabulous) Young Enterprise, the best thing about this type of involvement is you experience creativity at its most inspirational.
I’m going to go a bit Ronnie Corbett now and set off on a tangent. (You don’t know who Ronnie Corbett is? What did you watch on TV over Christmas)? There is a rather superb video about education and how it beats the creativity out of us, well worth watching on you tube – Changing education paradigms.
Creativity, I believe, is the one stand out attribute that is going to be essential in the future. We are in a world where organizations and individuals have access to the same information flows and data the advantage will therefore favour those who realize, cultivate and develop creative behaviours. They are the key to success in a competitive environment – and make no mistake it is very competitive out there.
Back to the subject in hand. You want to start your own business, you have started with you and are confident of your money making idea. This is the point at which I see young people present their ideas and then…….nothing. There are some brilliant Young Enterprise groups who have gone on to achieve great things with their ideas, and worth reading about them on the YE site. I think very few of the younger students at school who take part in Enterprise Days go on to the next step of actually starting the business. It is probably a mixture of things fear, lack of support, no money or even inertia brought on by not knowing what to do next.
There is a ton of stuff on the internet about setting up and starting a business and all of it is good and useful. But if you are reading this, fearful, with no money, but a brilliant idea, these are my suggestions:
Talk to someone. (I’ve highlighted talk because – call me old fashioned – it is an underused activity. I don’t mean email, SMS Face Book or ‘chat on line’).
If there is someone in your support structure who has some business experience talk to them about your idea and get some feedback. Talk to as many people as you can. Find a mentor who is specific to your industry (Linkedin is good for this), most mentors are free and happy to help. I cannot stress how important it is to get and build this sort of support team.
Sell something. (Nothing happens until someone sells something, Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape).
Find the cheapest and fastest way to test your product or service and just get SOMETHING out there which people can see and give you feedback on. This is far better than what most people do which is either, have a great idea and think about it so long they never take any action on it or, spend way too much time and money on something that eventually turns out to not work. If it doesn’t work, you are going to find out quickly and will have lost very little other than your time.
Don’t ‘launch’ the idea, time for that later, just quietly try it out start selling whether you think it’s ready for market or not. While that might sound ridiculous, your “business” doesn’t truly qualify as a business until that first sales transaction occurs. The action of ‘selling’ will entail you finding people to sell to, preparing a pitch and probably the most important thing, closing the sale. You will very quickly find out whether you find the whole ‘business’ of running your own business desperately exciting or desperately tough. But at least you have found out that at the beginning.
You may have noticed by now that I have not mentioned logos, websites, business plans, financial record keeping, legal entity all of the usual stuff. But do you really need to any of this NOW? Probably not. What you do need is credibility, confidence and certain amount of chutzpah. So my final piece of advice is to start building your credibility – your reputation.
If people come looking or checking on you…..
What will they find? You can google yourself and find out, and if that is not the image you want to project or there is no image at all then now is the time to change it and make it consistent across every social media platform. Tidy up your face book, join Linkedin, start tweeting, start a word press site (no need to spend money on a website just yet) or business facebook page, get some testimonials. Learn social media because this will initially be the cheapest and most cost effective means of promoting you and your business. Networking with real people is more expensive but also essential.
Next blog – so you’ve sold something and feedback is great…