For many budding entrepreneurs, inspiration comes from the success stories of their peers – what better place to start for our aspiring business tycoons than a browse of Dear Entrepreneur, a collection of letters from UK entrepreneurs
Contained within this letter are the key learnings that have led me to be where I am today. Some I have been lucky enough to stumble across but most I know simply because I got it wrong the first time! So let’s start with that…
1. Be prepared to make mistakes – I have lost money and sleep over taking the wrong path. This is inevitable as there is no ten-stage plan to launching a great business. It is simply how we deal with these mistakes that determines whether you are an entrepreneur.
2. Love what you do – Even if, like BoginaBag, it may not appear glamorous, you have to believe 100% that you have what the market needs. Throughout your journey you will meet people who doubt your product or service.
3. Understand your numbers – Your idea might be great but if you don’t understand your cash flow, profit and gross/net margins you will not have a business.
4. Listen to others – Meet, connect and blog with as many people in business as you can. This will not only give you a network of valuable connections but will also keep you sane. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, especially in the early days.
5. Limit costs – At the beginning, keep your day job, work from home and outsource everything. Costs can escalate easily and any profit will be hard to earn.
6. Take risks (“who dares wins”) – No entrepreneur ever got to be successful by taking the easy path. Put yourself on the line and if you aren’t willing to do that then you haven’t got number 2 sorted. Dragons’ Den was terrifying but it took my business to the next level.
7. Never be complacent – Understand your customer, exceed their expectations and listen to them when they say you have got something wrong.
8. Know your limitations – Try everything from managing accounts to pulling in sales, but be realistic. If it isn’t working then bring in others who can make it happen.
9. Have fun – Finally, remember why you started and focus on where you want to be.
Inventor and director, BoginaBag
If you have an idea for a business, there’s just one key thing you need. One thing that will turn that idea into a business. One thing that separates those who have a business from those who don’t. That thing is… THE WILL!
A driven person will do everything in their power to make their business work. Being successful is completely different to having the drive to turn an idea into a business. There are plenty of other skills that you will need to succeed. But if you’re driven and committed, you will learn what they are and train yourself accordingly!
And it’s hard. Much harder than you think it will be. Being driven to succeed is what keeps me going.
There are so many sacrifices you need to make to start your business, and to keep it going. I don’t mean to sound all doom and gloom – starting my business was the best thing I’ve ever done – but tough times always lie ahead and you need to be prepared for that. People tell you that having a business is hard but it’s impossible to comprehend just what that means until you’re doing it yourself.
The ironic thing is that I think I’m inherently lazy – I wanted to start my business because I don’t want to work!
At least not beyond the age of 35 anyway. Drive can help you to overcome your weaknesses! But drive can be mentally and physically tiring.
Therefore, have a long think about what you really want. If you want it, I mean really, really want it, then you will go for it, and not because anyone tells you to. Only you and your drive can make you succeed.
Best of luck guys!
Founder and managing director, Nuba Cocktails
I was a college student of 20 years old, I knew nothing about programming and two years later, I owned a website with over half a million members and living my life from it – and it’s just the beginning.
In a world where information is rapidly shared and easily available, you can learn anything you set your mind to, as long as you stay motivated and dedicated toward your goals. If you think you are lacking knowledge in the areas you would like to do business in, you no longer need to sit for years behind a school desk – you can now learn and progress at a very fast pace.
The best thing to do is to get started while keeping your job or staying at school. That’s what I did while I was in school – I had a vision and even though I had no idea how to go about it, I started learning and talking to programmers.
I was learning a lot of new stuff every day and after a few weeks, I had my first prototype for my website. It didn’t cost me a lot – I was using my savings from my previous summer job and this first prototype allowed me to get to know a little about a lot of things.
The next version of my website was much better as I learned from my mistakes and I am not the type of guy who makes the same mistakes twice. After the next summer, I used most of my savings again, and we could get something built that would be much better, and it never stopped progressing. I stopped school when I knew I could make a living out of being an entrepreneur. Even though I am still struggling in my journey, so far life has been much better and I envision the rest of my life to be that way too.
Dear Entrepreneur, compiled by Danny Bailey & Andrew Bailey and published by Brightword Publishing, retails at £10.99 and is available now. Please note, the second and third letters are abridged.