If you’re starting a new business, there are a few things that you need to be aware of that you might not have previously thought. Hopefully this list will be helpful to you!
1. Pick a good name
Naming your business can be a lot of fun, but you’ve got to think about the practicalities of what’s in a name. Using a pun or humorous wordplay may seem a good idea, but are you alienating a large portion of potential customers by limiting your international reach? If your name is purely descriptive, will it still be relevant to the projected evolution of the company in five or ten years time or do you hope to have expanded the business by then?
2. Get a partner
New businesses tend to succeed when there’s more than one of you believing in and pushing your product. Having someone you trust on your side when starting up your business will give you double the ideas and double the people power straight away, and will encourage investors to get behind your product too.
3. Think about longevity
Linked to picking your name, is what you plan to do going to be the same in five or ten years time? If not, then how do you predict you might evolve? And if you do think you might have to evolve, what measures do you plan to take in case of any surprises? For example, despite initially selling now obsolete carphones, Carphone Warehouse has managed to branch into the mobile phone market and become one of the biggest providers of these – even if their name is slightly out of date.
4. Choose action
You can plan and save for years before actually starting to build your business, but be aware that nothing will tangibly happen whilst you’re planning and saving. The best way to start a business is to jump straight in. These things don’t always follow a foolproof plan, so the quicker you start doing things, the quicker your business will grow.
5. Work-life balance is real and necessary
Don’t sacrifice your health and wellbeing. Sleeping is good. Socialising is good. Taking time off is good. If you work day and night for months on end, your ideas won’t be as high quality and you’ll end up ‘burning out’ and creating a huge setback for yourself. Starting a business is a huge amount of work, but give yourself time to recover to ensure your work is sustainable.
6. Demonstrate confidence
Confidence in your idea is key. If you show your own faith in your idea, then investors and customers will be more inclined to pay attention to you. When you’re pitching your audience will be looking for potential problems, but if you seem prepared and self-assured enough to deal with these then you will receive a lot more respect and possible investment.
7. You will get rejected
Don’t get discouraged because it feels like nobody is interested in your idea. Remember that twelve publishers turned down J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter, so it’s inevitable that you’ll probably experience some rejection towards your idea. The most important thing to do here is stay resilient. If you are sure about what you’re pitching, then don’t give up. Investors don’t always see the potential of what’s right in front of them, so keep trying until you succeed.
8. You don’t have to take every investment
Just because it can be challenging to find investors doesn’t mean that you have to accept offers from every single one. If someone you’ll potentially work with is rude or difficult then you don’t necessarily have to start a partnership with them. There will always be better people out there, and taking that little bit longer to find them could be worth the effort if the alternative is working with someone who causes trouble for your business.
9. Focus on relationships
When you’re first starting out it may be tempted to focus solely on generating income. However, in the long run, it’s the relationships you build in these first few years that may be the most rewarding. If you treat your customers well from the start, then your reputation will grow as a great person to do business with. These relationships will be much more lucrative than a basic monetary goal, and those people will likely help you tap into other markets much more quickly than you would be able to alone.
10. Find a mentor
If you can find someone who’s already started a business that would be willing to help you along the way, then that could really fast-track your progress. LSE’s entrepreneurial department, Generate, can help you with this as they run regular networking events and industry panels to help you meet relevant and interesting people. LSE’s Alumni office also offers a mentoring network to get students and alumni with similar career interests in touch with one another.