In our previous blog article, we focussed on those essential steps of the new business journey such as research, planning and positive mindset. We hope that by removing some of the jargon, complexity and common myths that it removed the feeling of being ‘overwhelmed’ by the whole concept.
The most important thing to remember though, is that a new business owner is not expected to know everything, it’s more important that they know where they can find the answers or who they can talk to to help them do so. That’s where we come in! If we can’t help, then we probably know someone that can – whatever your specialist need!
So in the 2nd part of our blog, we now look at taking that leap of faith… The launch and when to press the ‘GO’ button!
The start-up conundrum – ‘Done is better than perfect’
Launching your business doesn’t have to be as scary as it may seem! Putting a plan into action and making that jump will be different for everyone. You might be able to pack in the day job and focus completely on the new venture or you might only be able to devote a few evenings a week, every new owner’s path will be unique, but you will need to make that commitment to make it work.
This now becomes a journey of making the transition and adjusting life accordingly to pursue that ambition. There is no ‘right’ answer to how or when this should happen, it will be dictated by how your idea develops, your financial circumstances as well as other practicalities. However, one thing to remember above anything else is ‘Done is Better than Perfect’ so don’t allow striving for perfection to delay you. Aiming for perfection is something we’ve found to be a common launch barrier for small business owners – you’re not alone. It’s a journey and learning process!
Funding the dream – seeking the support you need
Arguably this is the most stressful part of the project, whether it’s a side hustle or the development of your full-time business Financing can be fraught and troublesome and undoubtedly, will always cost more than you had thought, so keep things lean and question every purchase and investment – is it really needed? Or just a nice ‘to have’ or can I manage without and potentially still deliver the same results? Unless your idea has the potential to bring supercharged growth you may want to avoid large loans or giving away significant equity as every penny counts.
Whatever your circumstances setting up a budget and cashflow forecast is critical. You need to reassure yourself or lenders/funding partners that your venture is a viable project.
We’ve listed a few options below to consider If you are seeking funding support:
- Loans & Debt Financing
Taking funds from an external source and paying them back over a fixed term is the most common option. This ensures you retain complete control over your business, but remember it also means that it must be repaid so can require some form of personal security, secured against assets or collateral. There are currently a number of options to help start-up businesses and one of the most popular is through the Government supported British Business Bank – https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/start-up/. The site contains lots of useful information to help guide you through the application process.
- Friends & Family
Possibly an easier option than bank financing with the ability to agree flexible repayment terms, however there are downsides to this! It can affect personal relationships, bring conflict if things do not go to plan and you may miss out on other valuable support and contacts that other sources of funding provide. You may also find that the amount you can borrow is limited unless you have affluent connections!
- Angel Investors
A useful way to raise funds is releasing equity to an investor and potentially receiving external support and guidance on the growth journey. This tends to be suited to riskier ventures, but most investors take a long-term view and should this not go to plan you won’t find yourself having to pay the investment back. The downside tends to surround the time-consuming nature of seeking the investment, losing control in the decision-making processes and the fact that the profits will not be exclusively yours. There are some useful sites to give you more guidance on the process, and even manage it for you such as: https://www.angelinvestmentnetwork.co.uk/
A way of raising funds by pursuing large scale investment for a small amount per investor. This can be offered in various forms such as a rewards-based (product discounts / samples), equity (shares), lending or donation system; although donation only tends to be applicable to charitable fund raising. The real advantage with this option is that you can allow your idea to reach a large audience who can help validate the idea. The downside is that if you don’t reach the set funding target all the work can be in vain. Rewards-based options can also affect your reputation if you fail to deliver what was promised. More details on crowdfunding can be found here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/ or https://www.gofundme.com/en-gb/discover/business-fundraiser
Whatever your funding options are remember planning is still key, so that business plan and a detailed budget is essential. Again, we would recommend you use some of the valuable free resources and templates that the British Business Bank provide: https://www.startuploans.co.uk/business-planning-templates/
Test & Tweak – Evaluation is key!
With your product or service fully functional and the business in operation review and evaluation is critical. You have the passion and are committed to making this happen and this is where ‘striving for perfection’ comes into its own. If you want to build a successful venture it’s important to review every aspect of your business model and adjust. Listen to feedback positive or otherwise so you can remain agile, pivot your business and identify new opportunities. It’s a challenging journey and one that will see difficulties, but if you are open minded, adopt a growth mindset and willing to listen to others you will succeed.
Mistakes will undoubtedly happen, and you will end up reflecting that you could have approached situations differently, however learning from those mistakes and taking time out for periods of reflection is an essential part of the exciting journey you are on. Welcome to the world of running your own business!
We mentioned earlier that, as a small business owner, you are not expected to know everything, so make sure you surround yourself with contacts and a network of positive people. The truth is, if you do this, you will find someone who has been through similar experiences and challenges and can help validate, guide and advise you through most minefields.
Our advice would be to reach out, you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help or give free advice and guidance, whether that’s a friendly chat or recommending someone that is able to help you. Our top tips on seeking support would be as follows:
- Build your network – use the power of social media to share knowledge, expertise, and ask questions. You will be surprised just how many people will engage
- Join networking groups – an essential part of running your business and useful marketing / business development tool, both allowing you to find specialists and enabling you to build brand awareness. If you’re shy don’t worry!
- Webinars – There are so many free webinars that can help you troubleshoot most aspects of running a business – https://www.enterprisenation.com/ is a good platform to start with as most free business events tend to get listed here.
- Local Authority – Most local authorities offer small business support and have valuable links with local funded support, grants and events. It’s worth a look!
Running a business is challenging, exciting and rewarding. Follow the 5 key steps to success and you won’t go far wrong:
- Begin with the PLAN – detail how you will attack the challenge
- Get out there and NETWORK
- Surround yourself with the RIGHT people
- Stay ONE STEP ahead of the competition
- Find a Healthy work-life balance – one that’s right for YOU!
P.S – Oh and let’s not forget…