Starting a new business can be ‘too hard doing it by yourself’.
Who will you ask to support you and your start-up?
Look for the people who will support you and then work out how you are going to excite them to keep helping you. If you cannot see where you are going, ask a practical person who has been there before. Today the lines between mentoring and networking are blurring.
Arguably, everyone’s biggest issue is knowing what they don’t know, in order to make the right decisions.
- Is the way you propose to do business obsolete?
- Are your skills and knowledge obsolete?
- How do you stop feeling unsuccessful in life?
- What are the best ideas that will propel you into the future?
Support is an important key to starting and building a successful business.
Did you know that most business owners, never reach the level of success they desire or are capable of? That’s because they make one or more fatal errors that are all too common.
- Poor direction and lack of sound planning practices.
- Poor marketing.
- Trying to do everything by yourself.
- Not selecting the right employees and suppliers.
- Not having a competitive value chain.
- Poor financial management practices.
- Growing too quickly.
- Not looking after your health and well-being.
You can avoid these fatal mistakes by gathering a good support network around yourself and your business.
Belief in you business ideas is critical
I once had a new business owner tell me, “I don’t feel that I am in business”. I suggested that he had not become serious enough about his business and until he did the business would not go anywhere.
Business should be fun, but it is not a game until you have completed the serious business of getting it off the ground. You have to practice and practice until you get it right. I suggested to this fellow that he sit down and write his story and when we arrived at where he was now, to keep writing about what he was expecting from his business.
Bingo! The lights went on. “I can see what that would do for me, but that is a big job”. I then suggested that if he were going to eat an elephant then he would do it one mouthful at a time.
He went off to revisit his under-worked business plan and answer that all-important question “why”. From there he could start to put in place the things that would make his business start to work for him. He would treat his business like a rough diamond and start to polish it up. If the “polishing” seemed to be too hard then perhaps the “why” was not right.
Imagination you might have, but you need more
Remember when you were a child? What did you think about? Did you ask a hundred questions every day? Did you always seek out interesting things to play with? What did you imagine you would do when you grew up? Would you drive a fire engine, go to the moon, visit the Eskimos, or start a business. So what happened to your imagination?
Like it or not, the digital world now forms an ever-increasing part of the business, from multi-nationals to one-person businesses. It’s no longer enough to simply have a shiny website or a social media account as innovations are coming thick and fast and the most successful businesses will keep pace, by using their imagination and seeking help from other people.
“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble”. Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you starting a business, there will be a need for extra help to move you closer to your goals and do it safely. Much of this help will take the form of mentoring and utilising specialist advisors. It will pay you to learn how to find and access targeted support.
Creative business owners know how to rediscover the curious child within. Anything is possible in their overactive imaginations, so they don’t see barriers that limit their friends and others. Why not go to the moon, or restore a vintage car using a 3D printer, or develop a better robot to mow the lawns.
Your parents are a good place to start
For many young people, getting their parents’ support to start a new business can make a huge difference, emotionally, practically and financially.
But it’s not always easy to explain to parents why, instead of getting a ‘real job’, you’re putting everything on the line to create a new business. This is particularly hard it the parent has not had any previous business experience.
Show your parents that you have thought your new business opportunity through to the longer-term, not just what you hope happens in a year’s time.
Your social networks can find services you need
Your social networks can find services you need. Here are some ways to utilise your social or existing networks for more information and support for your new business:
- Who are they connected to – Do they have a strong network of professional people who may be able to help you?
- Have they received any recommendations from their clients – What do those recommendations actually say?
- What is their experience – How long have they been in business. What were they doing before? Do they look to be reliable, practical, useful and helpful?
- How do they present their products and services – Are they enthusiastic and interested in what they will be providing you, or is it only an after- thought in their business?
Use LinkedIn or other social media to delve a little deeper into each person or organisation’s background.
Entrepreneurs can add significantly to any organisation
Most small businesses are owned and operated by technical people. This is one of the key reasons why they have difficulty managing. The difference in the mindset between a technician and an entrepreneur is very significant.
If the business is to prosper then the technical person must acquire at least the basic entrepreneurial skills. It is important that every business has access to an entrepreneur, they are the real drivers of any business.
If you are an entrepreneur then you will find great support from mixing with other entrepreneurs. If you are not an entrepreneur, then adopt the attributes of an entrepreneur and seek the support of an entrepreneur that is easily accessible to you either online or face-to-face. Every business must have some entrepreneurial skills if it is to grow. Entrepreneurs provide the business with:
- A clearer direction and vision of the future.
- An alertness to opportunity and what is possible.
- Creativity and Innovation.
- An ongoing search for excellence.
- Understanding of risk taking.
- Tolerance of uncertainty.
- A willingness to change.
- A strong competitive spirit.
- Motivation to become the best that you can be.
Many people think that an entrepreneur is someone who goes into business, or that non-entrepreneurs can become entrepreneurs. A little research will reveal the fact that entrepreneurs are ‘born’ not ‘made’. While entrepreneurs tend to gravitate towards businesses, you can find entrepreneurs in all walks of life.
If you aren’t an entrepreneur then you can certainly acquire many of their attributes, but you will not be able to acquire them all. Today entrepreneurs are redefining the landscape of business not by creating “me too” products already in the market but by envisioning entirely new products, customer experiences and ways of running businesses better.
If you are starting a not-for-profit or community organisation, you will find there is a big shortage of entrepreneurs who will want to get involved. Take time to find local entrepreneurs who will help you. While they may not join your organisation they will be happy to help you to make a difference as part of their community engagement aspirations.
You must also keep in mind that youthful entrepreneurs have been responsible for some of the greatest organisations and products ever created, so we shouldn’t lose sight of the young entrepreneurs in the community and their capacity to be a great inspiration for you.
Partnerships, partnerships and partnerships can provide the resources needed
Good partnerships will help your business to get off the ground and to grow profitably and sustainably.
This might sound more like a marriage than a business relationship, but a business partnership involves external businesses and organisations, large and small who can help your business while receiving some benefit for their organisation. This is not to be confused with business partners who are shareholders in your business.
You will need partnerships you can trust, who have the necessary resources and experience and who will be there when you need them. Your partnerships should become intimately involved with the operation of your company so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.
Good partnerships will help your business, by managing complex work you are unable to handle or don’t want to handle. They can also provide marketing clout, technology infrastructure, advice on practical business issues and even provide you with access to equipment and finance. This will be guaranteed to save you money in the short and long term.
There is a saying that if you want to be successful in business today, “focus on well-chosen partnerships, partnerships, and partnerships”.
Mentors help to keep you focused
In today’s fast paced life, more than ever before, we need help in a timely manner. Researchers have found that even back in Biblical time there were few people finished well in their chosen fields, without the support of many people. Mentoring has nothing to do with money, it just helps you to grow and finish better.
By making a quick assessment of the people who have made a significant contribution to your life you can start to identify possible mentors. They will be few in number, perhaps only three or four, who have helped you significantly.
Analysis of just what these people did, will give you insight into the type of people who could be possible mentors of your future and the attributes you require. Providing a listening ear, without taking on your problems and giving specialised advice, can serve as a powerful aid to help you get your business started and move it forward.
Business Advisors come in all shapes and sizes
It is important to select a business advisor with practical experience with startup businesses. You won’t need a lot of their time during the start-up phase, just a few minutes here and there. You will probably find good advisors will give a start-up they believe in, some of their time for free.
When someone goes through significant change, and there are a lot of changes to contend with when you start a new business, you need external advisors to help you to adapt successfully. An advisor can provide you with a behaviour model or example of the ways you can accomplish significant results and save time and money, way beyond your investment in them.
Would you build a house without a plan? Do you think people like working in a business without a sound plan? Use your advisor to help you with this very important function and you will find your business will achieve a better start. Advisors come in different forms. They can also be sponsors, role models, networkers or funders.
The business advisor selected should be a person of trust, someone who can be open and who is willing, to be frank. Remember you are not looking for a friend, you are seeking another person with special skills who will help you to manage your situation and your future business operations.
Brokers can act as great middlemen
A broker is an individual person that arranges transactions between a buyer and a seller for a commission when the deal is executed. There are many types of brokers that you can utilise for your start-up and in running the business:
- Finance brokers.
- Real Estate brokers.
- Business brokers.
- Investment brokers.
A broker is an independent agent used extensively in some industries. Their prime responsibility is to bring sellers and buyers together and thus a broker is a third-person facilitator between a buyer and a seller.
Examples would be a real estate broker who facilitates the sale of a house or renting of your business premises. A finance broker who finds the best finance for your particular business. Banks might have most of the money but they only sell their own products which are not necessarily competitive or appropriate for your particular business.
There are advantages to using a good broker. They know their market and have already established relations with prospective accounts. Brokers have the tools and resources to reach the largest possible base of buyers and sellers. Brokers also can furnish you with market information regarding prices, products, market trends and market conditions. You as an individual, on the other hand, especially in a new market, probably will not have the same access as a local broker.
Accountants and bookkeepers
Most businesses require the services of an accountant and/or bookkeeper because there are specific laws about the records that businesses need to keep. You can engage the services of an accountant to do your tax return each year, provided they are a registered tax agent. They can help you to set up your bookkeeping before it gets out of hand.
Choosing an accountant is like establishing a new business partnership. The right accountant will become a trusted colleague you can depend on, who offers advice and guidance as your business grows.
You should choose an accountant as soon as practical, based on the following criteria, never just because they are a friend. So what are the top things you need to look out for? After you have created a shortlist of accountants, contact each of them and find out whether you would like to work with them and their staff.
If you’re happy with the answers to all your questions, you can then feel confident about working with the accountant.
Some accountants will do little more than managing your annual accounts and complete your tax return forms, but the best accountants are more proactive. So before choosing an accountant, ask what they could suggest to save your business money and help you to make it grow.
Choosing the right legal adviser or legal practice for your business can be a difficult area to deal with. It is inevitable that all businesses, no matter what their size, will have to seek legal advice at one point or another.
Legal advice can range from, business names, business structures, employment law, dispute resolution, or simply drawing up contracts or legal agreements.
Choosing the wrong legal practice to deal with your business and personal affairs can cause a headache. You may find yourself having to cover extortionate costs because of their slackness, inexperience or incompetence.
You can use similar criteria as you might use to choose an accountant. But most legal people say they can do all legal work, despite the fact that they are only experiences in one or two legal fields.
Business incubators can provide support
Business incubators are organisations that provide support to start-up and early stage businesses through the provision of facilities, mentoring and coaching, training, equipment, networking and sometimes seed capital financing.
Can you benefit from becoming involved with you local business incubator? Business incubators are just one of many tools that communities can use to generate economic activity and create employment. Because they are subsidised, this makes their support very affordable.
While incubators are widely recognised as an effective form of intensive assistance for new start-up businesses, they may not necessarily form part of the most appropriate strategy for your business.
Typically, business incubators offer office or laboratory space, shared services, access to shared equipment and flexible leases all under one roof. In some instances, people establish ‘incubators without walls’. Typically, these virtual incubators serve non-resident tenants, providing access to the same services and advantages as those offered in traditional incubators, except for the office space. The principle behind such a facility is that business success is not so much a function of the need for a facility, but the need for advice, training, support and networking opportunities.
Try the “Claytons’ incubator. The incubator when you are not having an incubator. This involves designing your own incubator type support, which could include your library of books, magazines, articles, computer files and other self-help materials.
Ideas, energy, creativity, knowledge and persistence, these are the drivers of the small business. While these drivers can be activated by you the individual they generally lack power without the help and support of others.
When you are trying to drive your new business by yourself then simply speak or verbalise your ideas to as many people as you can. When you only think about things, instead of writing them down they rarely come to pass, not quickly anyway.
Gather your source material and start to document your ideas and your plans. They will start to come to life when you start talking out loud. If you have no one to talk with, then try your dog. Dogs are excellent listeners and they don’t argue. It is the fact that you are talking out loud that makes the difference. Just try it, it works.
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In today’s volatile marketplace where there is constant change, there is a need for speed.
In nature, it’s not the big that eat the small it’s the fast that eats the slow. The same rule applies in business. Within the global economy, smaller businesses are forced to compete with large multinationals in both domestic and export markets.
However, size is not a disadvantage in the race to satisfy expanding customer problems, frustrations wants and needs.
As in nature, smaller businesses need to rely on speed, agility and cunning to survive in today’s predatory business environment. In fact, small enterprises are more apt to have a competitive advantage because of size.
Take the time to work out the numbers and makeup of the advisors you need to take you to the future you want. In the meantime, focus on making sales first, finding advisors second, or is it the other way around? And a good rule of thumb is to ‘avoid surprises’.