First, let’s acknowledge that whilst everyone can have a great idea for a new business, not everybody has the skills, work experience or know-how to build one – and not everyone has a network they can ask questions of when they need help. So, what do you do?
One thing that early-stage founders find difficult is the loneliness of building a business when it’s at an early stage. Even if you have a Co-founder, you can find yourself in a bubble, makers at the kitchen table, coders with the three screens, thinkers at the white board – sometimes it can feel like you’re all on your own. But how do you know when to ask for help? And what if you don’t know where to look?
You can’t build a business without talking about it with other people. They could be potential customers, potential investors, industry experts or just someone who’s really interested in your idea. This is how you create your network. To begin with how about finding out where the entrepreneurs hang out in your area. Take a look at your local council website, search for Meetups or events on Eventbrite. Be bold, talk to others and ask them for help. Top tip – ask for feedback on what you’re doing.
A good mentor can really accelerate your business. Look for people with deep experience of the industry you’re in, perhaps built businesses before and happy to share with you the learnings of where they’ve failed. First of all, take a look at your contacts, previous employers, friends and family. Ask for introductions, make connections and get the word out that you’re looking for a mentor. Second, do some research on the leaders in your industry, ask yourself how you could get in contact with them. Top tip – remember to always ask if they’ll be your mentor, what’s the worst that could happen? They may say no, they may refer you on to somebody else, or they might say yes!
It’s easy to think that you have to solve all of your problems yourself when you’re running your own business but knowing when to ask an expert is important. If it’s something legal or financial just ask yourself what could happen if you made the wrong decision? Could it cost you your business? Whatever the problem, get a blank piece of paper or your whiteboard – write down the problem and everything that could possibly go wrong. Just getting it out of your head and written down may give you the answer as to whether you need expert advice.
YouTube and Google are your friends! In the early stages, Founders need to be a jack of all trades, but what if you just don’t know how to do something? There are plenty of ways that you can teach yourself things that will save you money when you start out such as building your own website, doing your own research or your own social media. As well as YouTube check out your local college for courses and find out if any other local entrepreneurs would be interested in a skills swap.
Side note: See some of our useful webinars here
There’s plenty of support for entrepreneurs but it’s not always obvious or easy to find. Start looking in your local area, the council, chambers of commerce, Federation of Small Businesses and other business groups. There’s plenty of information on their websites and some of their events will be free. And of course, check out Visionnaires and what your local further education college has to offer you as you build your new business.