Recently I’ve been talking to a lot of people about new start up ideas and I’ve also got plans to start a new company in the future so almost everything has been business orientated.
One of the things I’ve come across really whilst having these conversations is that almost everyone has the same concerns:
Not knowing how to start a company.
Not knowing what kind of business to create.
And the big one “What if” I fail.
Do any of those sound familiar? Those were and are my worries in every day life! Every day with every decision we all consider those 3 questions to an extent.
When I was at University and started GameTime Sports I questioned myself almost every day.
Worrying about not knowing what to do, how to do it, and whether you’ll fail … these stop so many people from doing what they love, regardless of what it is.
All of this gave me the idea to write this blog post today. Sharing the lessons I’ve learned about being an Entrepreneur.
My goal? To get you doing what you love.
- Always be on the lookout. Keep your eyes open for opportunities : what pain points do people have, what problems need to be solved, how can you make people’s lives better? - What things really bug you and you think need solving?
Just to give you an idea, this morning I was thinking about Email apps and how mundane, formal and boring they look and that’s the reason I never really read my emails. I look at the subject, who it’s from and usually just bulk delete without opening. Well what if there was a swipe service (Similar to updates on the LinkedIn App or for you young guns out there similar to Tinder) that had the emails opened in an easily accessible manner where you simply swipe left/right or whatever direction to delete, reply, keep, etc. Not only would it increase your chances of receiving important emails but it will make things convenient, quicker and a little more fun.
2. The idea makes you feel like a child all over again.
When I came up with Game Time I got excited, With a couple of my new ideas I’ve been really excited. I tell people about it (although I’d recommend you didn’t unless you really trust them). I might even stay up at all night thinking about it and reading about the real success stories in the industry, constantly thinking “that can be me”.
3. Baby steps make big steps.
At times I’ve been guilty of this, and perhaps I may have been more successful if I followed my own advice. A lot of the time, usually due to the excitement of the above point, we’ll often try to build into a huge launch and effectively bite off more than we can chew.
Starting inconceivably tiny is the key. Provide your product/service to a few friends and family members (but it’s important that these people will also be honest with you). Then branch out with a few more people, and a few more until your local area are aware and using your product/service.
Bigger launches are fantastic when they’re done right but the problem is, especially with smaller start ups they’re never done right and you spend more time focusing on things which aren’t important.
Delays to launch will happen, you’ll reevaluate yourself after a few weeks when you haven’t hit the national success you so desperately craved and the bottom line is you set yourself up for failure.
4. Just Start. What do you realistically have to lose? A little bit of pride and possible a few thousand dollars at most. They often say that your 3rd venture is the one that brings you success and that’s how I would suggest looking at things, if your 1st one fails you’re one step closer to your success.
If it fails you learn some valuable lessons that you carry through to your next venture which will help you make that a success. A failed venture isn’t always a failure, it’s a platform for your next success.
5. Start a blog.
This is honestly the best bit of advice I can give you, it’s the best way to market a new start up. Giving away information for free show’s that you’re knowledgeable and possess the ability to add value. Knowledge is power and value is key. Always leave them wanting more.
6. Leave the SEO on the side. To an extent, I fell victim to this and GameTime spend heavily on SEO and digital marketing yet the majority of my leads came through word of mouth. Your initial steps with a start up, especially if it’s local is all about adding value to your consumers life, as I’ve mentioned Blogs are the best way to do that. the SEO, Social marketing and Facebook marketing can wait a while.
7. The Alternative, be valuable.
Build something you’re passionate about, something incredible and great. If you do that then word of mouth is the only marketing you’ll ever need, people will find your blog posts organically and when people talk it’ll do the rest. Over delivering is all you’ll need to get the word out.
8. no Capital, no problem. One of the questions I often get back is “I can’t afford to start a business”. I started GameTime Sports with £160 which was spent on a website and a small amount of Facebook and Google ads. It was only after I started making money that other options became clear and I was able to pay for services with perhaps a little more bang for my buck. Bottom line is you don’t need cash to start a company, you need a website (£35 PA), A domain (£5),a blog (free) and PASSION that’s it! EASY.
9. Forget the figures. Every single figure you associate with your business needs to be forgotten about for the time being. Page views, conversion rates, email open rates, impressions, revenue projections, etc. At this stage of your start up it’s all irrelevant. Focus on how much you’re helping your customers, are they really satisfied with your service? What else can you do to go above and beyond?
Put a figure on customer happiness not your bank balance. Satisfy your customers and your revenue will grow mutually.
10. It’s all about now. Did you ever get taught that your school years are the best of your life? Yet you didn’t realise that until you graduated and were out in the real world? this is exactly the same.
I was 100% guilty of this. I was to focused on making the money, hitting my targets and looking at the small details to see how I can improve my companies launch around the UK. I hoped that by putting in the graft now I would be happier once the GameTime brand was established, and why you need to work hard 24/7 when starting up an organisation it’s important that you enjoy every step.
The reason is simple, once you’ve hit your target you simply set new ones and don’t allow yourself to revel in your achievements of creating something incredible.
11. Perfection isn’t worth the price. Over the past couple of years I’ve been through 3 website hosts, changed from a team distributor to consumer retail and back to being a team distributor in an attempt to try and make my offerings as perfect as possible. The bottom line is it’ll never be perfect and it’s not my decision to tell me if it is. Focus on getting your product/service into the world and let your consumers give you feedback for improvement. A simple formula that we all to often over look with start ups.
12. Say goodbye to the business plan. Okay, so this one is going to be a little controversial and I’ve openly said many times that a plan is your pathway to building success and to an extent I still believe in that but there comes a time where a plan will only stand in the way of your passion and productivity, like it or not business stifles creativity.
Yes planning things through is a great step but you’re basing everything on guess work and projections by other companies in your industry, not your own. You can’t see the future so stop living by your business plan as if it’s guaranteed to work. You need to learn to live independently away from your plan.
Look at YouTubers, did they ever have a plan? They started out with a passion and it turned into a thriving business opportunity, those who set out to make money never make money.
My advice is simple: Get started, see what happens, make adjustments and evolve. Flexibility as a business is more valuable than any plan will ever be.
13. The customer needs to always be at the forefront. Focus on your current customers, not attracting new ones. If you move towards improving and producing content, products and services which matter to your audience then everything else will fall into place and you’ll gain those new customers that you spend so often looking at and creating Facebook ads trying to attract.
15. Find your like minded allies. When I started GameTime Sports I was surrounded by likeminded entrepreneurs who inspired me to really craft my company for my consumers, after a period I moved away and that inspiration didn’t move with me (so I came back). It’s important to surround yourself with people who want to achieve success, who are passionate and people who can offer real feedback. The people around you, and their positive and inspiring attitudes, matter.
16. I don’t know. Not knowing is incredible, it’s exciting and that’s even more true when you’ve got an awful lot on the line. What’s fascinating about business is that there isn’t a sure fire way to success and there never will be a magic formula. the world is changing daily and new start-ups change with it.
Amazon (world’s biggest product service with no products), Facebook (worlds biggest content provider yet own no content), Uber (world’s biggest taxi service and own no vehicles), Deliveroo (Incredible delivery start up but own no food or vehicles) are all examples of fantastic, successful companies that own zero products, content, vehicles, etc. who would have thought that was possible a decade ago?
You don’t know, the only way you ever will is to take the risk, have fun and enjoy the experience of being an Entrepreneur. It’s not easy, it’s hard work and you’ll spend days wondering whether it’s killing your passion but if you stick with it, don’t let go of what you love then you’ll find a way to make a success of it all.