Over the past 15 years I have either started, acquired or helped start more than 15 companies in four different countries.
Some were great successes, some were damp squibs. I was recently asked why my success rate was so much better than the “95 per cent of businesses fail within 5 years” stat, which forced me to spend a little time evaluating things.
My first solo business idea, The World’s first live telephone directory for customers to find great tradesmen who were available that day to help in an emergency was amazing. Well, let me qualify that.
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Customers who had experienced the frustration of having to make 20 phone calls while the water is streaming through the ceiling, thought it was amazing. The builders and plumbers, thought it was a cute idea but something they didn’t need.
They were, after all, busy enough already and as they were the ones who would be paying for this service, it was their opinion that counted.
Despite having amazing branding, stationery, website and an idea, it was a very expensive business lesson to learn. Fortunately, the lessons learned went on to help avoid future business launch challenges.
90 per cent of second businesses go on to not only survive, but are profitable!
To improve your chances of success in launching a business, here’s a few things I wish I’d known back then.
Get a proof of concept before doing anything else. Decide what problem you are solving, find 10 people who have that problem and offer to sell them your solution before you do anything else.
If you can’t sell the ideal client, you’ll find it tough to sell the “almost perfect” client in the future
You don’t need a business card or website until you’ve started to make money. Yes, I know my company sells online marketing and builds websites, but your time at the beginning should be all about selling.
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You will underestimate everything by a factor of 10, all that is except sales. The amount of calls you need to make, meetings and pitches you need to do and how long it will take to breakeven.
They all take way longer than you initially think and you will need to put forth 10 times more effort than you do in your “day job” right now
Networking and meeting people is essential. Whether it is on Linkedin, one of the amazing networking events we have locally or attending one of the 100’s of training events put on by colleges, etc.
You need to meet a prolific amount of people and tell them what you do will give you a real head-start
Despite what you hear, people will want you to succeed and would love to say, “I remember when you were just starting out”. Have confidence, apply these 4 simple tips and above all have some fun!
Lee Kenny is a Halifax based entrepreneur, specialising in web design, online marketing and sales generation for small and growing businesses. @SocialSnowflake