Did you hear, we have an entrepreneur in the family

Jonathan Yates, the entrepreneur and author, begins a new series of posts on SmallBizPod telling the story of his own business and what he learned along the way.

3rd September 2009 at 1:33 pm

So, there I was, married. One small child and another on the way within a couple of months.

The call I knew was coming, rang through on the company mobile. I had lost my job and there was no chance of redundancy pay as the company had folded and can we have our phone back please.

As a seasoned sales professional I knew I could walk into another IT sales role fairly easily. However, according to my wife, this was the chance to put into practice the idea I’d been mulling over for a couple of months.

And anyway I’d been selling corporate IT for a decade and never really enjoyed it from the outset.  Perhaps a chance for a career change.

I decided the idea had enough innovation and novelty X-factor to be worth a punt, so decided to give it a go.

Now here is lesson number ONE when starting your own business: it has to be you who decides the idea is a good one, it has to be you who has carried out the research and proved to yourself that the idea will work.

You have to be the first person to de-risk the idea and accept that this is the path you are going to follow with focus and determination. Without self-belief how can you possibly convey the emotion in the business to a third party?

It’s all well and good getting excited and hot under the collar watching The Apprentice and Dragons’ Den and thinking that’s easy, if they can do it then I can definitely do it.

The reality is that everyone can have a go at starting their own venture, but a very determined few will actually make it through to a sustainable ongoing business.

So make the decision based on reasoned understanding of the opportunity. Once you have made the decision, stick to it.

Right, that’s hurdle one out of the way.

You’ve decided to go ahead and start a business on your own.  Well done.  Just a few minor things to do before you can pass go and actually start.

Next you have to sit the wife, partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband (or all five) down and explain to them the opportunity, why you’re going to make it a success and how they can help.

If you don’t get the support of your closest allies then you cannot go on. Sorry, it’s just the rule.

It should be easy because by this stage you will have created a simple elevator pitch to clearly and concisely convey the idea to people in about 15 seconds. So 2 minutes 27 seconds later after they close their mouths in amazement at your humanity-altering idea, you should have your first nod of assent.

The slight issue with getting family and friends on your side is that they really want you to do well. “Oh look, we have an entrepreneur in the family, we are so proud, of course you can do it, it’s a great idea!”

Family and friends will always urge you to go for it because they believe in you and want you to do well. The relative closeness may cloud their judgment.

The turning point in my decision to start my venture was to get hold of a mentor. A seasoned professional with real business experience in a similar and non-competing industry who would point out all the flaws as well as boost morale rather than stroke ego.

I found my mentor through a friend of the family. When I spent three hours with him talking through the idea, the pitfalls and the opportunities, I knew I was onto a winner.

You have to decide to go for it, get your family and friends on side but most importantly get yourself a mentor to coach through the good and the bad times to come. Without someone telling you where you could go wrong, you may not know until it’s too late.

Jonathan Yates

An accomplished athlete, Jonathan Yates was keen to discover a way of keeping properly hydrated. In training for a gruelling marathon he was struck with an idea and invented a product to add to refilled water bottles. Santeau was founded in his back bedroom and four years later he sold the business. His product is now stocked in major supermarkets. Jon's first book 'All Time Essentials For Entrepreneurs' was published in 2009. http://www.freesources.co.uk

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  1. Amman Ahmed says:

    awesome post :-). Inspiring for me as I am a young and struggling entrepreneur

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