What makes you successful?
Having a good business idea is a good place to start, but that is only a very small part of success.
As one famous entrepreneur said “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Determination, persistence, long hours, a supportive spouse and/or parents, cash control and an opportunist attitude are all essential ingredients.
You also need to have a thick skin and be pretty fearless . The phrase ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ is very true, but you also have to be prepared to take risks. If, 12 months ago, you had started up a new service for the North Sea Oil industry, you could not have anticipated that the price of oil would crash below $50 a barrel. But the ones that survive will be those that adapt and change.
Many of the world’s richest men have made very big mistakes during their careers. Some have lost millions as well as making millions. Sir Richard Branson risked everything when he fought British Airways in court. He was hours from bankruptcy, but rushed around to another bank who backed him at the very last minute. This is where a bulldog spirit is all important.
Yes, you need to start with a business plan, especially if you are looking to a bank or some other financial institution to back you with funds. You also need to be prepared to change your business plan as you get started – very few plans end up proving correct! If you open a shop selling shoes, but sell a few handbags as accessories, that sounds like a good plan. But if everyone wants to buy your handbags and not your shoes, then you need to change course. Keeping the same levels of shoe stocks would be stupid, but many start-ups make this mistake. You have to be prepared to change course, sometimes quite quickly.
Try to do something with your business that no one else in your market is doing – in other words, a Unique Selling Point, or USP for short. Georgian Dress Hire in Aberdeen will make you a kilt to your own specifications. This is not unique as there are several kilt makers in the North East of Scotland. But their USP is that if you buy your kilt from them, they will steam and press your kilt for LIFE! Now, I have had a kilt for about 8 years and it has only been cleaned once, because, like most people I do not wear it that often. However, if I know I can always take it back for a clean, that is not only good customer service, but builds loyalty, and gets your business talked about.
Finding new customers is one challenge, but keeping them is another. But I’ll save that for another blog!
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