Posts Tagged Entrepreneurs
A business opportunity is classed as having the chance to meet a market need, interest or want through a creative combination of resources. This sounds great; exactly what an entrepreneur needs to thrive on. However, identifying and then acting on them isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you on your way to success.
1. Think outside the box
It’s an age old cliché but applied effectively it really can be the key to success. Analyse data to find the opportunities that others have missed. Finding a pain point and then a corresponding innovative solution will keep your business ahead of the game.
2. Know what’s inside the box
Essential to knowing how to think outside of this mythical ‘box’, you first need to know what’s inside it. This means knowing anything and everything about your industry, past present and predictions for the future. Only by knowing what is already available, what has worked, what has failed and what your rivals have planned for the future, will you be able to come up with something truly innovative and fill that market gap. In short, do your homework.
3. Gain knowledge and experience
This helps with the homework thing. By talking to your peers you’ll gain essential industry insight and the better access to information that you have, the more likely you will be able to take advantage of a situation quickly.
4. Have confidence – it’s ok to fail
This comes from having the previous three points nailed. Once identified, it’s important that you take advantage of an opportunity, even if it’s not guaranteed to succeed. After all, innovation doesn’t come from certain outcomes but from taking risks and trying new things. Taking this jump will always be scary but the more knowledge and experience you have the easier this will be.
We at Powwownow love a good start-up as well as all aspects of entrepreneur-ism (after all, this is how we began!) and we are only too aware of how little money there is in the beginning to help with marketing and self-promotion. So we thought we would help new business start-ups with some advice on how to promote your business on a shoestring budget.
There are many ways in which you can get your business out there (and loads of ways you can waste a lot of cash) so firstly you need to think about what you want to get out of promoting your business. Be sure to set clear achievable objectives and then look at the channels and methods that will most easily help you achieve those goals.
In today’s economy it can be unnerving to think about setting up a business and going it alone, but being aware of why a business can fail, can help to ensure that you have every contingency in place to reduce the chance of this happening to your company.
The Apprentice, now in its sixth week, sees things starting to hot up, with the candidates getting down to business. This week they headed to Scotland to create gourmet street food.
The show is now in its eighth series and provides more than just a fly-on the wall insight into the business world. Now the show is about characters and who can simply say the most outrageous thing!
The candidates that are competing to be Lord Sugar’s business partner are supposedly the so-called entrepreneurs of our country, and honestly, if these are the people that are apparently going to help drive us out of this double-dip recession, frankly we are worried.
We read this morning that Milo Yiannopoulos, the free-lance tech journalist and sometime Telegraph columnist will be launching a transatlantic ‘Fund / Accelerator’ scheme for British Start Ups. The idea being, Yinanopoulos and co will take British firms and aim to launch them Stateside, primarily in and around Silicon Valley. On the surface that all sounds very positive, but after mulling it over a little while longer, a number of flaws became apparent. A primary area of concern being, yet again, instead of offering the right platform to nurture tech start ups in this country, we’d rather allow them to jump ship.
There’s no doubting the area just south of San Francisco known as Silicon Valley is an incredibly fertile location from which to base a new venture. However, whether ‘Hipster Ventures’ have the nous and expertise to really infiltrate this tight knit community remains to be seen. It is their intention to build buzz around new companies and products in the key Bay Area early adopter market, although it currently remains unclear whether these companies’ base will remain in the UK.
It seems easier to add more fuel on an already raging fire than to keep striking the flints of UK Enterprise, and for me personally, it signals yet another sad indictment of where we really are as a nation of entrepreneurs.
Arguably, one of the hottest tech start ups the UK has produced in recent years, Huddle.net, relocated to the West coast only a matter of months ago. Although launched in the UK, a substantial chunk of the company’s revenue comes from US clients, which is what subsequently led the directors to reposition in San Francisco. Huddle opened its American base with the help of $10.2m funding from Matrix Partners, something they’ve publicly stated was hard to secure on UK soil. This predicament is not new. Bebo cofounder, Michael Birch left London for San Francisco a few years back, and speaking to Wired magazine last month he made some fine points.
He said, “If people understand other people’s experiences and what they went through to achieve what they did, then the perception of them, should they try something and fail, will not be as negative as it currently is in the UK. Particularly in the UK, if you do something and it doesn’t work out, it’s more likely that your friends will say, ‘I told you so’, rather than, ‘You must have learned a lot, I bet you’re going to have another go at that’. Whereas, in America, no one would expect you to actually quit if you tried building a business and it didn’t work. It’s sort of expected you’d be having another go. I guess there’s a greater understanding that that’s part of the journey”
Finnish-born entrepreneur, Marten Mickos tells a similar story, “It’s always dangerous to make generalisations, but in the US, in the San Francisco Bay area, there is a much bigger tolerance of failure. Failure isn’t seen as a fatal event but rather as a stepping stone or a learning moment for going on to whatever you do next. In Europe, failure isn’t accepted. People think if someone fails, it means that person is bad.”
This is a misconception we fundamentally need to change in this country. We also need more forums and independent groups of successful entrepreneurs, clubbing together and helping develop a new culture which they then lead from the front. A culture that encourages trying, and in turn helps those people who are prepared to try – offering them incentives and encouragement, and everything possible to help give these people the best chance possible of success.
StartUp Britain which launched a little over six weeks ago looks to help promote this ideology. Speaking to Duncan Cheatle, one of the founding members of StartUp Britain, he said “If UK companies can go to the States, learn, be inspired, and come back to base their business’ on home soil, then what Hipster Ventures intend to do can only be beneficial. Ollie Barret, another member of StartUp Britain, actually takes a group over to Silicon Valley each year as part of a venture called ‘Web Mission’, and the people who attend this say they find it very useful indeed. There is simply a much larger peer group of likeminded individuals and companies in that part of the world.”
He continued, “That said, StartUp Britain is launching their mentoring scheme in coming weeks and thus far we have managed to match over a hundred people with suitable mentors. Then, it is our intention to have these young entrepreneurs who have acquired new knowledge to pass this on down the ladder.”
How big of an impact Hipster Ventures will make remains to be seen. The same can be said of StartUp Britain. What isn’t up for discussion however is the obvious need for Entrepreneurs, SMEs, Start Ups and large established companies to all work together, offering advice and expertise to one another. This is the only way we can hope to ever hope to change the somewhat old fashioned traditions that the UK still retains. Despite all our shouting about being an enterprising nation, in comparison to our over-excitable cousins in the U.S, it would seem some of us are still living in the Stone Age.
Investment in new businesses can come in many different forms, from business angels who only supply cash, to investors that are happy to spend their time, money and effort in mentoring young entrepreneurs. Here I am writing about the latter.
I frequently come across young aspiring entrepreneurs, who are looking for investment and guidance from more experienced business people. However, worryingly, more and more are complaining that the mentors and investors in their businesses simply want to get in on the act, obtain as much equity for as little as possible, add little in the way of value and then sit back and hope the rewards come their way.
An investor can give you money, material investments such as premises, services like accounting/marketing/PR, hardware and hosting, email lists, contacts and so on, the list is endless. However, a business has 100% shares, and every one you give away, will cost you in the event of a sale.
Over the years I’ve helped mentor a number of young entrepreneurs, many of whom I’ve helped extricate from the rogues above, so here is a quick list of do’s and don’ts for entrepreneurs looking to get their very own Dragon:
1 Unless you are receiving a financial investment in your business, never give up equity – it’s the most expensive type of money you’ll ever take.
2 If you’re offered guidance for an equity stake, be very careful. Get a short agreement drawn up outlining the guidance you expect, the time spent and what equity you are willing to give away for this advice. Ensure your lawyer can extricate you from this in the event that the guidance is not up to scratch.
3 If you do give away equity, try to negotiate some type of equity buy back, this way the investor gets their money back, you get some equity back and the investor still has a long-term stake in the business.
4 Value your business realistically, and be aware that to get an investor that is going to work with you to make the company successful, it’s likely that you’ll have to give up a 15-25% shareholding as they will also be aware that they may be diluted in the future.
5 Value the time you have with your mentor, and use it wisely. Create agendas for meetings and stick to them.
6 If you are offered incubation for your company, get an agreement, so you know what if anything it’s going to cost you. You wouldn’t rent an office without this type of agreement, would you?
7 Get an understanding of what businesses the investor has been involved in the past and try to understand what value and how they added to those businesses.
8 Understand your investors’ commitments to their other businesses and check that the time they are giving you doesn’t mean working 8 days a week for them!
9 If the investor tells you how important they are. YOU’VE got the WRONG INVESTOR.
10 If the Investor tells you how much they cost to spend time with you. (Unless you’re wasting their time) YOU’VE got the WRONG INVESTOR.