An idea is the easy part, we all have them, but taking the first steps into the business world takes courage and the ability to change. Running your own business is not for everyone, as the business path can be a rocky one, with ups and downs and lots of fear and doubt… but it can also be totally exhilarating.
I was and probably still am an adventurer at heart. I love challenges and think I am more of an accidental entrepreneur than someone that was born with that entrepreneurial DNA. The real business women in me was unleashed by marring my now husband Jeff. I grew up in a family where owning your own business wasn’t even a consideration. In our family, you got a good job in the bank or a trade and then worked your way up from there… and that was the measure of success. So it was only after travelling half way around the world over 7 years that the entrepreneurial spirit was roused in me. I met my husband when I was 29 years old. It was whirl wind romance, we were engaged to be married in 10 weeks, married in 8 months and I was pregnant at 12 months, you could say that we don’t mess around!
My journey like many others, started with a desire for change. I had just had my third child and was on maternity leave. I was previously a publicist for a movie company called United International Pictures. Having a baby gives you time to work out what you want to do and what is really important. For me, I wanted creative pursuit, to have the flexibility to run my own hours and to create something unique and exciting. There were a few barriers (OK maybe thousands), the first of which being that I did not come from a business background. In fact, my business experience was zero, which normal people would think is a massive negative. As it turns out, it proved to be my greatest asset. It was such an asset because I did not know what I did not know, so I started the journey, with a wonderful naive view of what was ahead of me. Once you start the ride then there is no getting off – as your business takes over your life, your finances and sometimes it feels like your soul.
The stats say that if you get into business then you are more likely to fail than succeed which is a very daunting thought, and one that I was very aware of. In fact the stats say that 4 out of 5 businesses fail in the first 5 years, so I was very happy to get to the 5 year mark.
So how do you Increase your Chance of Success?
Have a plan! It doesn’t matter how much experience you have in business, you can create a plan; it’s not hard, it is like any journey you go on. You need to work out where you are now, where you want to be and how to get there. The problem with most people who get into business is that they get so busy putting our fires that they forget to stop and plan. A plan is very powerful, as it is your road map towards your goal. The plan will tell you what resources you need and by when, it will also give you the importance of prioritising what you need to focus on to achieve your end goal. Let’s say your plan is to double your business profits in 5 years – starting with the end in mind will help you work out what you need to do today to achieve that, which is often more people and more money. Remember – without a plan you are just a mouse on a wheel going nowhere.
People Dictate the Business you Have… Are they mediocre?
The amount of businesses that settle for just ‘OK’ is astounding – they think that they have to put up with average performance because they ‘haven’t got the time’ to recruit and re-train a new person, so they continue to have an average business, never reaching the goals the business needs to achieve. Think of your business like a professional sports team; the goal is to win the championships and the only way to do this is to have the best people on the team. This unfortunately means that you need to continually cull until you have the right team to achieve the goal. What you will find is that great people want to be on a winning team, and great teams, attract great people.
Money…. Ask for it when you do Not Need it
Many great businesses have failed due to simply running out of cash. Always ask for cash when you don’t need it – this comes back to planning. Know your numbers and do your cash flow, and when you can foresee that you may run out of cash in the future, then that is the time to ask for cash… BEFORE things get dire. Banks are more likely to give you money if you have money in the bank. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but if you are planning effectively then you shouldn’t have money problems and if you see into the future via a cash flow forecast that you are going to run out of cash, then plan for it when you have time on your side, not when you are desperate.
The other thing I see with businesses is that when things are going well they start to look at the investors and say “What do they do? I’m doing all the work and they are taking a percentage of my profit, it’s not fair!”, what they forget is that without the cash in the early days then they may not have had a business now and in the future, so value your investors.