Avoiding the pitfalls when starting a business without any experience

Starting a business is one of the most daunting and stressful experiences any human can undertake

Avoiding the pitfalls when starting a business

Starting a business is one of the most daunting and stressful experiences any human can undertake – it requires a fabulous idea, courage, self-belief, and the ability to wing it at times! So, what to do when you have all of the above, but no experience. Can an aspiring entrepreneur achieve success without relevant experience in the area, and if so, HOW?

In the early months and years after founding doddl, I learned so much, lessons that have stood me in good stead, and definitely contributed to the subsequent growth and success of the business. Here are my top tips for starting a business without experience.

Don’t believe you can do everything yourself – you can’t

It can be tempting to fight all the battles by yourself, to try to be an expert in all fields. But the reality will quickly dawn that this leads to burnout (you are just one person!) and actually lots of things only being ‘half done’. Where resources allow, bring in people who know what they are doing – a reliable accountant or an enthusiastic sales person for example.

Accept that you don’t have the experience – Find a mentor

There are times to ‘wing it’, and then there are times to admit you don’t know where to start. Finding a great mentor will be an invaluable asset to the business. It helps to have someone who has made the mistakes to make sure you don’t.

Don’t be isolated

Particularly at the beginning there will be times when it all feels overwhelming, but don’t be alone! There are is so much support available for start-ups (local business growth hubs; government backed schemes i.e.; innovate U.K., DIT, SWMAS etc.) make use of them, ask questions, get involved. 

Do your research

It might seem obvious to say ‘do your research’ – it was something I did, but didn’t fully appreciate the benefit of until further down the line. Being prepared and having an armour of knowledge ahead of time helps to keep the business on course. It is so easy to get distracted, but knowing every step before it needs to happen is a certain way of meeting milestones and driving growth.

Be realistic with your own capabilities. 

It’s one thing to have no experience in the area you are going into, but if you cannot bring at least one transferable skill that typical business requires (finance, marketing, sales, legal or being able to relate to the target consumer), then you must question where you can add value in the business. It is one thing to not be an expert in all areas, but it is imperative that you can bring a level of expertise to some aspect of the business.

Be openminded to partners/ co-founders.

When I set out on the doddl journey, I hadn’t initially assumed that I would build a team around me. Destiny had other plans for doddl, and I soon realised that the business was bigger than just myself. I was never against the idea of a business partner – it was just something that didn’t appear on the agenda from the outset. Fortunately, I managed to convince my business-savvy sister (Rosie Phelps-Goggin) to partner with me, followed by the brilliant Laura Thomas, who has also since become a co-founder. Having a business partner halves the burden and doubles the joy – it is someone to brainstorm with, but also to weather the storms with. I would advise any entrepreneur to consider bringing a partner on board, someone with a different skillset who can offer other things to further the business.

Cat Dodd
Cat Dodd

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