Written by Alex Hughes, Shift Momentum.
I called it back in March 2020 when I said there is going to be an unprecedented amount of people wanting to start their own businesses off the back of this madness that we are experiencing, and I was right!
So far we have not seen a surge of new businesses being started since 2013. The opportunity to own your own business and build a life that you are in control of has simply never been more appealing. That gold watch at the end of a long corporate career is no longer an option for many and with so much disruption coming to the market over the next 10 years, why would you not want a piece of that fun?
Be warned though, starting a business can seem daunting and complicated because of the saturation of support that’s out there in every micro-niche. And I don’t blame them. As long as you keep working with them, they keep getting rewarded financially.
Now 99 times out of 100 you start a business as a means to simply provide for you and your family. We call it a ‘lifestyle business’ and they are both fulfilling and rewarding for all involved when built properly.
I want to give you a head start by letting you leverage my unlimited behind the scenes access to 100s of businesses just like yours.
So I divide most people who want to start their own business into two categories, the first of which is those who can say, “I have an idea and I know what I want to sell”. This is the easiest one to deal with and I say this because a simple execution on the launch of that business will tell you everything you need to know about the likely success of the business when you have this baseline to start with. If you’re in this category, I’m going to give you three steps that will move you closer to realising that success and save you a lot of money in the process:
- Start by asking yourself, “Do I know the names of the first 10 people that need this product of mine?”
If you answered yes, then focus your energy on an engaging and enticing Sales Process; certainly don’t waste your time on wider marketing efforts, go all in on direct-to-market strategies
If you answered no, then focus your energy on really understanding your target market. Begin by mapping out a persona of exactly who you imagine needs your product and start to obsess over their requirements and problems.
- When it comes to the build process, 20% is good enough. Focus your energy on launching and selling the idea of your product. Give yourself 90 days to launch effectively and with purpose!
I have seen this happen over and over again; such a waste of time using the ‘build it and they will come’ approach in micro-businesses. If you have £50,000 to spend building it then fine, but most people just want to get some early sales to validate not only is the product something the market wants but does it give you the fulfilment you hoped. All good news here, just focus hard on learning the lessons from launching on repeat until you nail it.
- Surround yourself with a support network of like-minded individuals
You need to look up, left, right and down with who you are surrounding yourself with. I can tell you right now that having a solid support network around as you move into this new world of life ownership is absolutely crucial. You will also need different levels of support.
The priority should be to find someone who has done what you want to do before you, other business owners also in that early stage and diversity in opinion. If you only tell your family and friends about your business, they will tell you it is great regardless because they love you, but I’m sorry to say they are not qualified to confirm that and what they’re telling you — despite being supportive — isn’t actually helpful. Get some new friends ready for this adventure.
So let’s deal with the second category, which is those that want to start their own business, but do not have ‘that idea’ and simply have had enough of paying too much tax, earning someone else money and want control of their time. In these individuals, igniting some inspiration is required. When I first set out in business it was a simple ironing delivery service we started. Nevertheless, it taught me the fundamentals of business. It was never going to be long term and nor did I expect it to earn us a fortune, but we grew it to an oversubscribed lifestyle business within nine months of taking it on.
It’s a similar story with our second business; a commercial cleaning company that we scaled up within 18 months of takeover to almost half a million in sales and, more importantly, taught me all I needed to know about commercial sales. Again, it focussed on growing as a competent Entrepreneur and not some magical idea that had come to me when gazing into the future.
To save me going into every depth of what I have done over the last five years, the ideas started to flow for me about three years in and without forcing it. I have started and got involved in 10s of projects and start-ups since, become pretty good at launching them now and ideas flow freely knowing I have some solid businesses to maintain focus on the initial need of getting free of the rat race.
So my advice here for those of you thinking about starting your own business, but not sure what exactly that business is right now (or do you even mind, you just want to get started) is:
- Study your network and environment, seek problems and opportunities to improve on them!
The answers often sit very close to you. Just opening your eyes and looking at your surroundings with more purpose will allow you to see them. And don’t just think of products; what services could you offer to people that would save them time, resolve a problem for them or make them more money?
- Monitor trends in the market
I spend way too much time in here, and that’s because so much inspiration to benefit from and opportunities to be found. Summer of 2019 I was out secret shopping at Grand Designs with Cliff on a mission to look for opportunity that he had foreseen in the garden room market. We analysed the competition both from a quality of product point of view, as well as their brand positioning in the market. When 2020 happened, we were ready to rock and roll with our go to market, launched in April 2020 and are on track to do over a million pounds in sales by the same time in 2021. The opportunity to watch the market, having great relationships with those we are growing with and finding a slot for something that would stand out, you can check them out www.snuggeries.co.uk , you should buy one ;).
- Just get started!
Get that feeling of making a small profit on an activity. I have been working hard on getting more product-based businesses into our portfolio and to have some fun with this, last lockdown, I reached out to an IT equipment supplier to see what old stock he had. I picked myself up x50 10m HDMI leads for less than £2 per cable. Simply re-selling those online would suffice with this attitude of just getting started and teaches us the core principles of business: buy low and sell high. Explore eCommerce a little and have some fun making a little profit, while you explore ideas.
Launching businesses is fun and it should be exciting, not stressful and a long grind. It is my favourite subject and I welcome any questions you have on the topic. Feel free to connect and ask specific questions if you are in one of the categories I have mentioned.
I have a guide and programme coming in 2021 that is focussed on simplifying the whole process of starting a business for those who are interested and determined. It will likely put a lot of business coaches out of business, simply because of how simple we have made the whole process — as it should be!
Keep it simple and get shift done.