Seven practical pieces of advice for startups

It’s all very well being inspired to take the leap and start your own business, but don’t run before you can walk. These seven tips will help you avoid common pitfalls of many statups.

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3rd April 2009 at 9:42 am

Passion, commitment and perseverance – there will be many times during the early stages of growing your business when you face obstacles and the easiest thing to do is to give up. Before you get started, be very sure that you really want to do this and commit to persevering, even when the going gets tough.

The right support – there will be times when you need to work unusual and additional hours and if you have a family, you will need their understanding, support and flexibility during those times.

Reserve funding – most entrepreneurs are optimistic people and we expect the business to build faster than it does. Prepare 2 budgets: the first one being what you reasonably expect your costs and income to be during the first 2 years and the second one being based on your costs being 20% higher and your sales being 30% lower. Make sure you have the reserves or funding to see you through until the business takes off.

Prepare thoroughly – make sure there really is a demand for your product or service. Figure out how yours is different. Be able to explain it in simple language in less than a minute. Do the numbers – make sure you can make money out of it.

What’s your core business – find a niche, decide what your business is going to be and be consistent. Go to trade shows, subscribe to trade publications, speak to your target customers, not just your friends. Ask for their ideas on how you could improve, before you launch.

Focus on the sales – You need to have a great product or service to start with and then you must focus on building awareness and growing your sales. Very few businesses are lucky enough to have sales just roll in from day one. You need to work hard at it. Particularly if you are keeping costs down by starting with just a home based business or webstore – people can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist.

Broaden your skill set – during the early stages, particularly in a recession, you can keep costs down by doing more yourself. A professional will almost always do it better, but if you can do some of the basics yourself, you will save money. If you are going to have business partners, decide who is going to look after which area and ensure your skills are complementary.

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Sally Campbell

Sally Campbell is MD of childrenswear brand and webstore Chatterpants.com. Having started her first company at 29 and sold it at 34, Sally was keen to have her own company again at some stage, provided she could find something she was really passionate about. Ten years and two countries later, she took the leap from her well paid, senior marketing management job in London, to start Chatterpants. http://www.chatterpants.com/

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