This week’s guest blog is from Leanne Thompson, who recently graduated with a Business Management degree from the University of Birmingham. She went straight into setting up her own local events business and shares what she has learnt over the past few months here. This blog will be published in 2 parts – look out for part 2 tomorrow.
When you’re setting up a business it probably makes sense to not rush things. But, on the flip side, taking your time risks losing momentum. Worse still, procrastination can lead to you going nowhere; that bright business idea burning out before you can get the show on the road. So, what do you do?
Start before you are ready
That might seem like an odd sentiment. Why would you dive in to this huge life decision if you’re not fully prepared? Surely it makes sense to get everything lined up perfectly before you go to market? Well, there’s the key word – perfect.
It’s great to strive for perfection but it’s next to impossible to achieve straight out of the block. It’s only possible to truly road test your business and refine it once you’re out there doing it. Until then, much of it is guesswork.
Let’s use the iPhone as the perfect example. It’s been 11 years since Steve Jobs unveiled what is now regarded as one of the most important consumer products of all time. However, the first version of the iPhone was far from perfect. As technology journalist Ben Sin notes in Forbes “in many ways, the second iPhone, the 3G, is the one that really became what modern smartphones are all about.” That was because the first generation iPhone, innovative though it was, came with a number of flaws – low battery life, lack of 3g coverage, over-active pop up notifications. But, by being out there, being used by millions around the world, Apple learnt where the iPhone needed refining. Before long everyone had a smartphone and today Apple is the first company to be valued at $1 trillion.
Now you might say, “that works for Apple but what about little old me? I don’t get the opportunity to put out something that needs refining?” Well, you do. Trust us. Speaking to Informi, online greetings card business Bettie Confetti explains: “Test, test and test again. Sometimes what I think works doesn’t have the reaction that I’d predicted and sometimes I have to admit defeat.” The key is to use those insights to shape your offering – and that is something you can only do once the business is launched. “Watching and analysing data from my customers and people looking at my shop gives me a fair idea of what people are looking for and the latest trends.”
If you’re going to subscribe to the start before you’re ready theory, there are still important considerations that you can’t afford to overlook.
Is your idea viable?
Essentially, the question here is will your business idea make enough money? It doesn’t have to be an original concept or a revolutionary new product, but it does have to some rationale behind it that indicates there’ll be enough people willing to pay for it. That rationale is solidified through market research, by checking out your competition and speaking to potential customers. This doesn’t need to be a six month research project, you can probably get this done in a few weeks – if that. Use the internet to your advantage: go on forums, check out social media, read TripAdvisor reviews. And, of course, you can’t beat getting out there and actually seeing things in person and having a good old chin-wag.
Leanne will continue her blog tomorrow. If you can’t wait that long please read it here.
ECC Further reading: The 7 skills you need to be a start up hero