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Banks, Lenders & Investors Business Development & Marketing General

Dream Big – Summer is time for considering a start-up

Summer holiday start-up dreamAs many as half of all workers seriously consider setting up their own business during the summer holiday according to research.
Emma Jones, founder of small business support network Enterprise Nation, said: “The combination of sun, sand, sea and downtime means we’re more relaxed and have time to contemplate what we want.”
Relaxing on a beach with time for reflection can make us aware of any dissatisfactions with our current status or job.  It is also an opportunity to think what else you might do if stuck in a rut and you want to “take back control” of your life.
But what is involved when starting up a new business?
The key is to identify a clear purpose and define the product/market mix for your business, essentially to be able to answer “why” questions. This may require research but you cannot start planning until you have a clear purpose. Turning dreams into reality is more than simply having a good idea!
To help you find your purpose, here is the link to a TED Talk, ‘Finding your Why’ by Simon Sinek.

Find your Why before you go any further with your start-up

The core of Sinek’s argument is that all successful businesses have a belief in the core proposition which in turn inspires others.
In essence, he says, people buy into a product or service out of self-interest, and this is why the self-belief of the business’ founder is crucial to its success. This explains why sometimes even the best capitalised business with the most innovative products can fail, because they fail to convey a fundamental belief, or enthusiasm, for what they are doing.
This is not about money or fame and the most successful companies, such as Apple succeeded because their founders not only believed in what they were doing but were able to persuade others that buying into that belief would in some way enhance their own lives.
So, when you are thinking of starting up a new business this is central to whether it will succeed or fail.

When is the right time to launch?

It does not really matter when but you shouldn’t do so until you have identified your “Why”.
Of course, in preparing to launch you should do research such as trialling the idea most likely with test marketing slightly different products/services with slightly different markets/customers before settling on your core proposition. Once you know what will sell you can develop a plan that might be used to raise finance or simply be used as a discipline for following so you don’t get hijacked by others who come along with other ideas such as where to spend money on promotion initiatives.
Another key decision is what type of business, you should trade as, whether as a self-employed sole trader, as a limited liability company or as a partnership with others. Each has advantages and disadvantages which will inform your decision.
Other factors might be the state of the economy, industry or annual cycles, availability of finance, people and other resources or opportunity.
It might be counter intuitive but during a recession can be a good time to set up a business since established businesses often take their eye of their customers when they switch their focus to one of survival. This is particularly true for larger businesses since they are also less agile and often unable to cope with a changing market.
In summary there is no right or wrong time to turn your start-up dream into reality providing you are prepared.

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Business Development & Marketing General

The importance of strategic focus to business success

strategic focus dartboardIn an age of multiple distractions, it is more than ever important for business leaders to have a strategic focus for the direction of their enterprise and clear goals so that progress can be measured.
Especially in the early stages of starting a new venture enthusiasm may be high, but if insufficient thought has been put into the aims and goals and the direction of travel, activity may become scattered in too many directions at once.
It is a waste of time, energy and possibly resources and a lack of focussed effort can lead to disappointing results, even to business failure.

How to keep your head while all around you are losing theirs

It is important for an organisation and its key people to have a clear idea of its purpose, its competence and the value of what it is offering to clients and customers.
This should be defined in the business plan and be regularly reviewed and, if necessary, updated.
What worked at start up and during the early stages may no longer be relevant or at least may need tweaking.  Perhaps what has worked and been learned can be applied to introduce new, more innovative products, services or ways of doing things. The lessons learnt might justify pivoting the business in an entirely new direction.
But at each stage, if change is to be introduced it must be in the context of a strategy that helps people to keep their eyes and their actions on the goals.
The LinkedIn Influencer and writer, Bruce Kasanoff, argues that we live in an age of multiple distractions and that people who master the so-called skill of multi-tasking are actually training their brains to be less effective and efficient.
Kasanoff also offers workshops exploring the role of enlightened self-interest in professional organizations and within individual careers.
In a world based on competition, he says, it is inevitable that businesses and enterprises will compete for customers’ attention and business leaders are likely to be no less susceptible than anyone else.
He advocates taking a break to pursue another activity, in his case photography, when starting to feel distracted or stressed.
The result, when returning to a piece of work or the business environment, is that a person is refreshed and ultimately more focused.
Perhaps it’s a lesson busy business leaders need to learn.

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Business Development & Marketing Cash Flow & Forecasting Finance General Rescue, Restructuring & Recovery Turnaround

When should you pivot your business model?

The term “pivot” was first applied by Eric Ries, creator of the Lean Start-up method, to describe how a new business can shift its activity in a new direction in response to customers’ behaviour.
It is a tactic used by many entrepreneurs when it becomes clear that the original business offer is not attracting the predicted level of business.
One example of a pivot was a company that was set up to sell online marketing products such as website design and found that this activity was not delivering so instead set up and promoted a Business to Consumer (B2C) shopping App, which generated much more business.
While it is necessary for a start-up to be committed to and believe wholeheartedly in its product or service, especially when it has done some market research to find out whether there is a sufficient level of demand, in a rapidly changing market it makes no sense to remain wedded to that product or service if it does not generate the projected sales.
Continuing to spend money on promotion without achieving any improvements sooner or later will lead to cash flow problems and a business in difficulty.
So while commitment is of course a fundamental ingredient for success when starting a business, flexibility and an open mind about what can be fashioned out of the core business skills are essential.
Sometimes it is necessary to pivot the business model by implementing fundamental change to achieve a transformation of the business’ prospects.