When you hear the word ‘entrepreneur’, you may instantly think of big names such as Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and the many other giants that bestride the world of big business. These icons of business are often held up by the media as embodying the spirit of entrepreneurship. Yet entrepreneurs cannot easily be placed into boxes because they all bring specific skills to their business success. Quite a lot of this is down to luck, being in the right place at the right time with the right idea, and being able to get the initial backing for it. It also requires the ability to work hard, think and act strategically and, probably most importantly, be good with people.
That may sound strange, but if you can’t motivate the people who work for you or may want to work for you, then you have a business that’s just going through the motions. There are, certainly, many businesses that don’t particularly care about their employees and they will equally certainly make money. Smart entrepreneurs, however, will always look to build up a happy and well motivated workforce, helping them to buy into the overall concept of what the business is delivering.
Here are some suggestions for getting your business off the ground, and how to develop your existing skills to make it happen.
Work to your individual strengths
It’s a good idea to analyse exactly why you want to start up a business. Are you fed up with your current job, assuming you have one? Do you think you have a product or service that is really marketable? How much research have you done into the marketplace, and what will you need to put in place to get your plans off the ground? It’s the planning that’s key.
Many people think that entrepreneurs need to be constantly upfront, perhaps confrontational and certainly giving off an exuberance that may be forced. Naturally, your personality is an important part of how you will be perceived in the business world, but you really don’t have to be a loudmouthed braggart to achieve success.
You need to have chameleon-like qualities; you may have a brilliant service or product developed through your hard skills, but you need to be able to work on your soft skills, ones you aren’t necessarily taught. These include team building, negotiating, problem solving and engendering a good work ethic both for you and your employees.
It’s impossible to know if your ideas are going to work, so after you have worked on your basic business planning (the financial, managerial and marketing aspects to start with), get some professional advice. The internet is awash with help and information, and a simple business quiz from specialist insurers Hiscox can give you, as an aspiring entrepreneur, a clear insight into how well suited you are to the challenges that will be thrown up. The Hiscox small business quiz also gives you plenty of links to information that will help you progress towards your goal of setting up a new business.
Lead by example
The best leaders are those who understand what their customers want but can enthuse their workforce to deliver a high-quality end result, whether it’s a new type of software, a support service for specific products, or the ability to service, for example, gas and electricity problems within a business or home. Understanding what customers want and need, matching that with the skill sets that you have and, when the time comes, your employees have, can be the template for business success.
Taking the leap
It’s never easy to decide to take that leap into the dark, but that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about. You should back yourself, be confident that what you have to offer is something that people will go for, and find backers to help with your initial finance. It could be from savings, from family or friends, or you could go the more traditional route with a financial institution. Crowdfunding has become a major player for business start-ups as well, so look at and consider all the options.
Back to the planning
Here’s the boring bit again, but it’s absolutely essential when you’re a budding entrepreneur. You don’t need a business plan that lasts for 94 pages. You need a concise document that succinctly outlines what you want to do and how you are going to do it. Put forward financial projections, how the business will be managed and a rock solid marketing plan, and you should be well on the way.
If you are just starting out, finding suitable office space can be a difficult task. Balancing price, location and space can be frustrating when you are working on a start-up budget. For online companies in particular, the concept of a Virtual Office is definitely worth consideration. The idea behind a virtual office is to essentially rent space in an existing professional office, complete with services such as call handling and meeting rooms. This can be a great way for small, upcoming firms to avoid certain overheads until the business is ready to cover them.