Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Andrew Jervis. Andrew is currently on the Masters of Enterprise at the University of Manchester. Brought up on the Isle of Man, Andrew went on to attend School and his Undergraduate education in the North of England. Andrew worked in a graduate position in an offshore bank before embarking on his enterprise journey. Currently he is involved in 3 enterprises each with their highs and lows: Check them out: www.quickvehicleparts.com, www.pieboyclothing.co.uk, www.andypie.co.uk
So you’ve got that amazing idea? Check! You know exactly how it’s going to plan out? Check! It’s going to make you a millionaire with in 18 months? Hmmmm….. Check!
Being (or aspiring to be) an entrepreneur is an amazing experience. It brings out a whole series of emotions – excitement, frustration, joy, worry, laughter, you name it! Inevitably you’ll meet a whole variety of extraordinary people.
You’ll more than likely have no money (or negative) in your bank account at some point and you may even think “what the hell am I doing?” Well if your reading this and you’ve started a business and are currently experiencing some or all of these symptoms, don’t sweat, its perfectly natural.
From a personal perspective starting out on my first business was a hugely exciting period, but one that was approached naively, yet became a great learning experience. With aspirations of having the world of wheel trims eating out of our hands in no time, my self and business partner at the time were ready to conquer the world. Our projected financials had many noughts at the end of the net profit line and we were already day dreaming about great success and riches.
The reality was quite different… We launched and well… the sales came but not by the amount we anticipated… by a considerable amount.
Being positive, ambitious and optimistic are all very important traits to be successful in business. Some people who launch with this enthusiasm hit the jackpot first time and very quickly (Mr Zuckerberg would provide a modest example of this), but as the stats show the majority of start-ups don’t succeed and many of those who do get through the first couple of years go on to make modest incomes.
The point of raising these sobering facts is not to be negative and dampen the fantastic enterprise spirit that has swept the nation but is to prepare people for their enterprise journey ahead. The road is long, fun and enthralling but you have to be prepared for hard work and setbacks. That’s not to say that the journey wont be rewarding as it definitely will be!
From a more practical perspective I thought it would be worth pointing out a few pearls of wisdom that have been passed down to me that I have found particularly useful blended with a little bit of my own experience. From the top and in no particular order:
Don’t settle on your first idea… You are potentially stumbling through 100’s of great business ideas everyday. A really effective way to find a great idea is to look at the problems you encounter every day. I’m pretty sure your problems are not just isolated to you, so if you can solve a problem for your self then you can solve it for whole bunch of other people.
Under take a feasibility assessment…. Undertaking a very basic feasibility assessment on your business can quickly find out if it’s a goer or not. What’s your cost price, what’s your sale price, how many units do you need to sell to break even, how many customers will potentially and realistically buy from you (everyone and anyone doesn’t count!)
Go niche… This is not necessarily a pre-requisite for a successful business but it can be an effective method to get trading in the early days. Find a small particular niche market that no one else is focused on and really deliver great results for your customers.
Be very good at one thing, not ok at 5… I can be very guilty of this, as can most entrepreneurs. With so many ideas flooding through your head it can be easy to get side tracked and before you know it, you can be doing an OK job with a few ideas but not really delivering to your full potential. This brings us back to don’t settle on your first idea…. Be picky and choosy and when you know you’ve found the right idea commit to it.
Network and drink green tea… Regular tea and coffee is OK as well but make sure you talk to other entrepreneurs or free lancers. Starting out can be quite lonely especially if you’ve come from a big organisation so speak with other entrepreneurs, go for tea and cake, share experiences and contacts and help each other out!
Get a mentor… Being able to get some one who’s been there and even got the t-shirt to give you pearls of wisdom along your journey can be priceless. Preferably get a mentor who is tied to your industry and walked your proposed enterprise journey before.
Learn from Failure… Failure is not bad. Infact, failure if used constructively can be a really good thing. Its much better losing a few hundred pound in the early days and learning a lesson, than losing £10,000’s later on having not learnt that lesson. Don’t be afraid to fail and if you do, dust your self off, learn what went wrong and try not to make the same mistake again.
Have fun, get passionate, work hard and play harder… Your enterprise adventure is certainly not going to be dull and it is certainly going to bring out all sorts of emotions. It’s going to be important that you will have to work hard when required to but it’s equally as important to enjoy your new freedom and play when you can. Most importantly enjoy what you do and get passionate about it!