I’m a great attender of trade shows and exhibitions and get lots of my clients from casual conversations I get into at these events. Most recently I attended the Business Startup exhibition at Excel in London and one of the things I managed to do was record an interview with Levi Roots of Dragons Den Fame with his Reggae Reggae Sauce. (you can hear it on the next podcast episode).
However, I was at this show for two reasons: The first was to help a group of enterprising gentlemen i’m working with to promote their video email/multi-level marketing product and the second reason was to test the waters for our new business course we expect to launch later in the year.
There is definitely much truth in what is often said about entrpreneurship and business not being teachable skills. However, one can always make use of sound advice. Unfortunately a lot of advice out there is what I would term absolute rubbish while on the other hand i’ve benefited tremendously from masses of free advice I’ve received over the years. I must admit that I also still often refer to some of what I learnt studying Business Administration at university (mainly Maslow’s motivation theory and also the “Peter” principle) while a large part of it as proved absolutely irrelevant (which many of us students recognised at the time). So with the launching of this entrpreneurs training programme we will be taking on a big challenge, part of which is to work with key sponsors to make the course a truly worthwhile and rewarding experience based on learning while trading.
There were definitely lots of experienced and successful people at the Business Startup show offering some really good advice and a lot of it will no doubt appear in future episodes of this blog but also the podcast. In the meantime here are my own essential rules for anyone contemplating starting out in business.
1. Test Your Idea
Find people around you who you can trust and will give you honest feedback and let them know your idea, but you MUST LISTEN even if they don’t understand the product or the market. You WILL get some invaluable comments that will save you a lot of time, money and headache. Remember that no matter how scathing these people are that’s nothing to how bad complete strangers will be.
2. Do The Business Plan
This cannot be skipped and you will find that the actual DOING of the plan may well be more valuable that the plan itself. This is where all the questions that ANYONE could ask are answered (including Dragons Den type investors). You will need help and their are professional software packages that will help you such as Business Plan Pro, but equally there are lots of able consultants. If you are thinking of using a consultant don’t be shy to ask them exactly what they can do for you and who they have worked with previously that you can contact. Remind yourself of the fact that “To Fail to Plan is to Plan to Fail.”
3. Hit The Ground Running
If you’re working then take annual leave/holiday, but once you decide to launch that business you must put the hours in. This is the time when you tell absolutely everybody what you are doing (repeatedly). This is when you trawl through your email and contact list and contact absolutely everybody. You have to leave everyone in no doubt that you are enthusiastic about this product or project and you are expecting great things. At this point a 60 hour work week is a luxury. It is during this early period that because of your enthusiasm people will offer to help, and you have to take advantage of this and work them effectively. Give them a script to use on the phone or give them a clipboard and some leaflets and tell them to collect email addresses. No stone must be left unturned, and remember you can’t have “too many” potential clients or contacts.
Now if you don’t follow this advice and the business fails you’ll be kicking yourself because you’ll never know what might have been. If you follow these things and the business still fails you’ll likely be one of those real entrepreneurs who will learn some invaluable lessons and be ready to go again with something even better.
I look forward to hearing your feedback on these matters, or even your own advice you’d like to share with others.
Until next time!