Posts Tagged ‘starting own business’
When it comes to exporting it is always crucial to have done some homework before committing. Although exporting may not be specific to every start up it is good to have some knowledge on the area. continue reading
Going through Dublin Airport the other day I noticed this “special offer” sign… wow an Irish brekfast for only ¢11.60!
(Extract from article BR Dowling)
1. Some people just don’t want to…great no issue, being an entrepreneur is not the be all and end all. The majority of people who work for themselves work extremely long hours just to get by. Many many others try and fail. Unless you are an extremely unbalanced individual most of us know that the ultimate goal is to lead a happy and fulfilled life during our short allotted time on planet earth. What is a happy and fulfilled life is for each and every one of us to define for ourselves. It is ones of life’s great gifts that we get to set our own standards and goals the fact that many people choose badly and end up miserable is outside the remit of this article. The fact remains that your family, peers, colleagues and every dog on the street may be telling you that fulfilment lies in money/ fast cars/ high profile promotions etc. You are free to decide that for you its flip flops a surf board and enough cash to get by. Screw them it is your life…if you can achieve true happiness for the majority of your life you my friend are the real winner in this silly little game.
2. The Fear Factor…. Given that you are reading an article like this you probably are not surfing at the moment, so you think that you want a crack of the entrepreneurial whip. Ok then. The Fear Factor holds more people back from starting their own business than probably anything else. The old ‘what if’ deamons have caused millions of would be entrepreneurs to turn back and walk away from the scary dark edge with its lurking dangers and uncertain hidden treasures. For its sheer ability to slay ideas and dreams the fear factor remains the number one reason that people do not give it a go.
3. People are lazy…..Sad but true may people would kind of like to be successful but will never make the effort to actually make it happen. It is so much easier to talk about doing stuff and to wait ‘till the time is right’ than to actually go for it. If you are in this category please take the following advice. Admit it to yourself!!. By giving up the game you will take the pressure off yourself, focus on something else that you enjoy and get on with your life. This may seem harsh but it is a case of being cruel to be kind. There is a window of opportunity in everyone’s life to start their own business, this is not age specific but for every Colonel Saunders who founded KFC in his sixties there are hundreds of people who put themselves financially and physically at risk at a time in their life when they should be looking to retirement. There are exceptions to every rule but being successful involves being smart and realistic.
Important note: beware the disgruntled would be entrepreneur, this is a dangerous breed that will be full of stories about how they nearly invested in this or that that would have made them a fortune. They nearly patented some form of widget that would have been a runner etc. Avoid at all costs, they will have nothing positive to say about your plans but will be able to tell you how they tried ‘something like that’ and it didn’t work out. They will hate to see you succeed, you don’t want to be around this kind of energy.
4. People lack personal confidence and therefore (they think) the ability to run a business. A lack of personal confidence will kill the entrepreneurial spirit in those afflicted by it. It undoubtedly has other negative implications on their life but again these falls outside the purpose of this book. Entering the battleground of business with little or no personal confidence or self belief is as stupid as it gets. Sort it out…life is too short.
After the annus horribilis that was 2009, things are off to an altogether more positive start in 2010. With talk of Ireland coming out of recession in the latter part of this year things are finally looking up.
Business is still tough and there is no doubt that there are still huge challanges to overcome i.e. getting bank funding etc. however this is still a great time to be getting into business. For one thing there is a new sense of reality out there and from recent experience there seems to be a more flexible approach from landlords, suppliers etc re: getting deals done. There is also a lot of bargains to be snapped up in liquidated stocks, businesses etc, one mans loss and all that.
Here at startups we also have big plans for the year ahead. We are looking to find a web editor to drive the business forward, enhance content and commercialise the site. Please let us know if you have any suggestions for the site and we will try to implement them.
Thanks for your support last year and please keep checking back with us,
All the best,
Many of us who listen to politicians mentioning what people “on the doorstep” are telling them, wonder which doorsteps they’re canvassing.
Politicians have a strange ability to pick doorsteps owned by people who want to tell them how great they are. Second hand reports from the doorsteps give politicians great ammunition when facing a hostile interviewer. How many times have we heard a cabinet minister say “actually, the issue of the missing money isn’t an issue, Pat/Miriam/Holy Father. The people on the doorstep are telling me that I’m doing all of the right things and they want me to keep on as minister.”
An unverifiable anecdote masquerading as fact is great when you’re a politician being interviewed on drive time radio but it’s no use at all for a start-up business person who wants to know if anyone likes his product. Politicians have incredibly selective hearing and it’s only by tuning out the sound of all of the doors which are slammed in their faces and by ignoring the angry constituents who vow never to vote for them that they’re left with a group of loyal fans whose welcoming doorsteps give them the self-belief to keep on working.
Many small businesses fall into the category of tuning out opposition and ignoring people who aren’t interested in their product. They think to themselves “actually, people aren’t saying that I’m flogging overpriced tat six months after the trend has moved on. The people on the doorstep are telling me that my product will change their lives and they’re willing to pay twice as much for it.” Survey sample? One person.
Good businesses need good research. They need proper analysis of the facts, not an unverifiable anecdote from a loyal supporter. Not only do businesses need to know who will buy their product and how much will they pay for it, but they need to know what external factors are likely to have an impact on sales. What’s government doing to regulate the field? What’s happening to the economic context in which you’re making a sale? Is there a societal consequence to your business?
Bill Clinton ran an election campaign on the simple statement that it’s the economy, stupid. The economy will dictate everything. The economy will decide how many clients you have and how much money they have to spend on your product. It will dictate how much the government will tax you on your product (and, if you’re lucky, any profits) and it will dictate whether competition from home or abroad will gobble up your business.
At the time of writing, the stockbrokers and financiers are beginning to make their economic forecasts for 2010. Ireland will, depending on whose forecast you read, emerge blinking into the sunlight of strong economic growth, or spend next year in the darkness of prolonged recession. GNP growth (% per annum) is not an abstract number, created by economists for the amusement of economists (although if you go for a pint with a group of economists, you’ll find it is) but it matters enormously to the start-up business Do you want to start your company in a recession? Is there merit in waiting? Will the forecast for the economy help you persuade the bank to finance your endeavour? Have you factored the tax implication of the change in the economy into your business plan?
Personal anecdotes from potential clients and customers will undoubtedly help you hone your business model into one which can maximise customer loyalty. Politicians, economists and stand-up comedians all use focus groups.
But the input of potential customers needs to be grounded in fact, and all start up companies should be spending time listening to the financiers and the economists talking about their projections for the economy. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to read the Financial Times every day. Indeed, one of the great secrets of economics is that nobody really reads the Financial Times; they just look at the adverts for expensive watches and cry for their lost millions. The pink pages of the paper blot away the tears.) But using good, well-networked research support can help put some facts in place which will make an enormous difference to your business plans.
Why? Well, for one thing, the chances are you already have a better understanding of the macroeconomic context in which your enterprise takes place than anyone else. Donald Rumsfeld (who, as a politician, is probably guilty of using doorstep anecdotes in place of the Financial Times) said of the Iraq War in 2002 that there are “known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don’t know.”
In six short, but bewildering sentences, Rumsfeld summarised the need for solid research, well presented. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to help Irish businesses do – find out what they know and what they don’t know, but also what they think they know, what they think they don’t know, and sort it, and fill in the gaps.
There are countless books about how to keep your home clutter-free. There are – dotted around different sections of the bookshop – more books about how to keep your mind, your career and your spirituality clutter-free. But there is a task to keep the flow of information in and out of your businesses clutter free. How do you compile and use all of the information you know about your business and how can you use it effectively? How do you summarise it into a report you can give to your bank manager, your PR Company or your shareholders? How can you fill in the gaps in your knowledge without becoming cluttered with more useless information?
The answer is by taking some time to find out what information your company lacks, and present what you do know convincingly. My aim is to look after all of that for Irish companies – streamline and maximise the usefulness of what you know, and present you with what you don’t know. Grounded in fact, stripped of clutter, presented clearly and convincingly, your company will be on better footing than any politician, blinking under the studio lights as he launches into another tale from the doorstep.
Dr Peter Stafford
+353 (0)86 150 2891
We rewiew the good, the bad and the ugly of business books. Do you have a favourite business book? why not review it on Startups.
Entrepreneurs –Autobiography/ Biography
Business Stripped Bare – Richard Branson (Virgin Books)
This is a sort of update on Sir Richard’s business empire taking a more philosophical view on what makes a business successful. This is not a patch on Losing My Virginity and in fact many of the same stories are repeated. Unless you are planning to take over a chain of banks, buy a railway monopoly from the state or build a spaceship you can live without this one. 2/5
Anyone Can Do It – Building Coffee Republic From Our Kitchen Table – Sahar and Bobby Hashemi (Capstone Publishing)
Sahar and Bobby Hashemi are the sister and brother team who built Coffe Republic the UK high street coffee chain. Giving up highly paid professional jobs, she as a lawyer in London and he an investment banker in New York, they staked everything on their dream. This is a great little book and well worth a read. It takes you step by step through the process of building Coffee Republic , from the original idea and brainstorming to Growth and customer service. 4/5
Making Bread – Brody Sweeney (Liberties Press)
A refreshingly honest, direct and jargon free book, Brody shares his experiences, good, bad and difficult of setting up O’Briens Sandwich Bars. This book is well worth a read as it offers good practical advice from an Irish perspective. The chapter on bank finance is particularly relevant i.e ‘Banks only like lending money to those who don’t need it’ and how to get around this. 4/5
Anyone Can Do It – My Story – Duncan Bannatyne (Orion Books)
Grumpy dragon Duncan tells his story from a tough upbringing in Clydebank, Scotland to multi millionaire entrepreneur. Duncan was a self confessed dosser until he finally set his mind to making money in his thirties. Starting with an ice cream van business he built business after business each more profitable than the last. This book also shows Duncan’s charitable side which is pretty inspiring stuff. 4/5 This book is also reviewed by FiscalStudent (See post below)
Enter the Dragon – Theo Paphitis (Orion Books)
Theo Paphitis has built one of the most successful retail empires in the UK. Theo founded his first company at 23 and his big skill is in seeing untapped potential in loss making business which he then makes profitable. Of particular interest to anyone in retail this is worth a read although there is a big middle padding section where he covers his period in charge of Millwall football club, this is just boring. 3/5
Tycoon – How to turn dreams into millions – Peter Jones (Hodder & Stoughton)
I hated this book and to be honest could not finish it. From the arrogant title ‘Tycoon’ to the incredibly annoying ‘Tycoon Tips’ throughout the book you get the impression of someone who is a bit too dizzy in the glare of fame. Tycoon Tip – Avoid. 0/5
Business Nightmares – When Entrepreneurs Hit Crisis Point – Rachael Elnaugh (Crimson)
A novel approach from the fallen dragon. After the high profile loss of her business ‘Red Letter Days’ and subsequent removal from Dragon’s Den, Rachael interviews other high profile contacts such as Jeffrey Archer and Doug Richard. The book has a pretty bitter and angry tone particularly towards some of the remaining Dragon’s. Despite this it is relevant to see the dark side of business when things go wrong as they do more often than not. There is also some good advice and tips that could save you lots of money and heart ache. 3/5
Dragons’ Den – Success from Pitch to Profit – Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Theo Paphitis, Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan (Collins)
This book is a bit of a con. Someone got an hour interview time with each of the Dragon’s and turned it into a lightweight mish mash in order to cash in on the show’s popularity. You will walk away none the wiser. 1/5
How They Started – How 30 good ideas became great businesses – David Lester (Crimson)
This is a great little book, each chapter is a perfect bite size, just long enough to tell each story while maintaining your interest. The book covers businesses such as Bebo, Moneysupermarket.com, Pizza Express and Cobra Beer and gives a brief outline of how they got going and the challenges that they faced along the way. 4/5
Purple Cow – Transform your business by being remarkable – Seth Godin (Penguin)
A good ‘Loo’ read. Marketing Guru Seth Godin urges everyone involved in creating, designing or selling to think in new ways about their market. By adopting alternative approaches to your business, you and your company will survive to innovate another day. 3/5
Online Marketing Heroes – Michael Miller (Wiley)
Terrible and boring. Interviews with 25 ‘succesful online marketing guru’s’. If you are having trouble sleeping, this one is perfect for you. 0/5