Do you have a talent that you dream of turning into a business one day? Designing your own clothing brand, launching an online shop, opening a deli in the town you grew up in? How do you know it will be worth pursuing and not just a pipe dream?
I was lucky to be working in the media industry and loved what I did every day. Getting up and making the hour-long commute from Tyneside to Middlesbrough was never a chore as I used the time to think up new programme ideas or solve problems so I was ready to jump straight into the day the moment I walked into my office. It was a heart-wrenching decision to leave the BBC but the desire to go it alone and set up our own business was overwhelming and once we had made the decision it was all systems go.
Having an idea and a passion to succeed was one thing but harnessing that energy and making it a realistic business proposition was something else. We started our business in the middle of the recession and haven’t looked back. But it can be a tough journey for those who cut corners on some new business must-haves.
What’s your big idea?
Say it out loud a few times. Write it down even more. Is it something people can buy? A service you are planning to sell? Can you operate solely online or do you need premises? Do you have money to invest or are you starting with nothing? Above all, do you truly believe in it or is it just a way of getting away from the boss you hate? Write it all down.
Do your research
What is your market and who are your competitors? Where do you want to operate? If you plan to open a shop what is your catchment area? Can you price yourself competitively and is there a gap for your product or service? Honestly? If you plan to sell something you make yourself, test it with your family and friends but get some honest input from your peers. We are probably too honest sometimes but when people pay us to provide expertise we have to be. Talk to people you trust. What would they pay? You need honesty as it gives you the opportunity to tweak your idea until it’s perfect.
Write a plan
A business plan is fundamental and one of the best things you will do. It’s too easy to get swept up with the excitement but taking time out to write a plan focuses the mind and creates clarity. Hone down what you will offer and concentrate on your skills. If you find there are skills gaps, look at what you can buy in or study and learn yourself.
Think about the operational side of the business but also give consideration to marketing and try to set realistic budgets. Make short, medium and long term achievable goals to keep you focused and drive the business forward.
Have you got what it takes?
It's great to be the boss but can you cope with the sleepless nights and the long hours? We rarely took a weekend off or a holiday for the first four years. There will be times of worry, periods of stress and as for late payers… You will certainly need stamina and bags of passion. That said it’s the best thing I ever did. I couldn't imagine doing anything else.