Starting out on your own: nine things NOT to do

Getting off to a good start in business is vital in achieving success, and here’s what the entreprenuers advise

Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 01:10

Do you dream of being your own boss? Is your business idea bound for success? Before you jump on that start-up bandwagon, there are some things to remember.

Too often, budding entrepreneurs spend all of their time planning the business structure, looking at funding options, seeking professional advice and imagining their potential success – all before they figure out what their products is, and how they will take it to market.

When starting a business it is better to seek the advice of people in your industry, entrepreneurs who have already been down the road you are embarking on, according to Gráinne Kelly, company founder and inventor of the Bubblebum inflatable car booster.

So on that note, here are nine things NOT to do when setting up a business, from the mouths of Irish entrepreneurs.

1Mistake your enthusiasm for
a product/service for that of
the consumer/end user
There’s a reason why “the customer is always right”, and that’s because without customers you don’t have a business. While your own conviction that your business idea is great is important, you need to get the opinion of customers.

Donald Fitzmaurice, founder and chief executive of mobile marketing company Brandtone, advises would-be entrepreneurs to think about everything from the point of view of the consumer.

“It is easy to convince yourself of the value of a product because you would want to buy it. Lots of people must want to buy it though. You buying the product is not the basis of a successful business.”

John Joyce, founder and chief executive of Savvybear, says it is important to identify who your potential customers are, talk to them about your idea and get as much feedback as possible.

“I should have listened to customers and not people who think they are experts in a certain arena. Customers are the experts in what they want.”

As well as ensuring the customer wants your product, you should also make sure the market is ready for it, according to Lulu O’Sullivan, founder of GiftsDirect.com.

“We were one of the first e-commerce sites to go live in Ireland when we launched nearly 17 years ago. The market wasn’t ready as people didn’t really trust online shopping back then.”

“We all think we know what the customer wants but often we don’t. Aspiring entrepreneurs should test the market before blowing €100,000. We started small, on a loan of £2,000, so didn’t have much money to blow.”

2Trying to do everything
yourself
One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is letting go. Too often, they won’t let others help out and go off the belief that only they can make decisions. If you try to do everything yourself, you will spread yourself too thin. By hiring staff and getting help you can free yourself up to take care of the more important aspects of the business.

Fitzmaurice says it is difficult to scale a business if you’re the only person involved.

“You can’t do it alone. It’s going to be a team of people that make’s a business successful.”

Joyce says one of the benefits of having a team is that you can get people who have strengths you lack.

“It takes finance, legal, tech, HR and marketing to run a business and you cannot do them all.”

3Raising too little money
Many start-ups assume that all they need is enough money to rent office space, buy equipment, stock inventory and bring customers in. They often forget that capital is also needed to pay salaries, electricity bills, insurance, legal fees and other overheads before the business ever makes a profit. Furthermore, if you sell your products on credit, the time between making the sale and getting paid can be months.

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