Are you the sort of gentleman who’s always, deep down (or maybe not so deep down) seen himself as an entrepreneur? Well, if the pandemic’s shown us anything, it’s that life is short — and, where possible, we should be taking the bull by the horns. We’d never advise rushing into a serious entrepreneurial venture: but if you’ve got the business bug, we would advise making a start where you can.
What are you waiting for?
Perhaps you’re currently working in a good job while longing to start your own business — just like Jeff Bezos, presumably, who came up with a business plan for Amazon while working on Wall Street. Do you occasionally find yourself doodling logos on meeting room paper (in much the same manner as LOVE BRAND & Co. founder Oliver Tomalin, who conceptualised the brand’s logo on the back of a restaurant napkin), or mentally combing through potential slogans when you’re supposed to be listening to your boss’s presentation? In which case, the question we’d like to pose to you is: what are you waiting for?
Ok, we know it’s not always that simple: but all it takes is a start. A start could be an initial weekend planning session, or reaching out to some initial contacts to gage interest in your potential project. Or, a start could be gleaning advice from some successful entrepreneurs — also known as ‘those in the know’ — and, luckily for you, we’ve gathered together some stellar advice of that very nature. Have your notebooks at the ready, gents.
In the beginning, you need to have a clear end goal
“The main starting point of being an entrepreneur is actually the end – what do you want your business and lifestyle to look like when you are successful?,” posits Lee Lam, CEO and founder of UK’s Start Up Partner. “The general rule is that you should know where you are going, but know of multiple routes to get there. The flexibility this gives you means you can adapt as you learn more about your market and can nail down exactly what it is you offer.”
"Having a really strong name and logo will undoubtedly give you a head start..."
And Lam elaborates further on why, exactly, it’s so important to have a very clear idea of where you want your business to go, right from the outset. “Putting out details of your brand before you are clear on what it is you are trying to achieve can make it harder to establish a solid presence in the market – it can confuse people if you seem to offer lots of different things, or you keep changing what you sell,” Lam explains. ”It’s especially important to create your brand presence, from your name to your wider visual identity across off and online channels. It will take time to build brand awareness but having a really strong name and logo will undoubtedly give you a head start so make sure you invest in professional designers to get that right.”
Essentially, have a strong idea of what it is you want to do, and where it is you want to go. Remember what Deliveroo founder William Shu said? “I had one idea…an idea that I was fanatically obsessed with: I wanted to get great food delivered from amazing London restaurants.” The rest speaks for itself, really.
Make sure you stick to your guns
“It’s vital that you don’t compromise on your ambition,” says Dr. Alex Young: tech entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Virti. “It’s the only way to achieve the positive change you want to see. Often as an entrepreneur you’ll be doing something completely new; so people might doubt you, simply because what you’re doing hasn’t been done before. In the face of others’ scepticism, the only way to achieve success is to stick to your guns and believe in yourself.”
This is something to which Young can personally attest. “I trained for years to become a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon, but I left medicine behind in 2018 to launch Virti,” he explains. “The decision was controversial at the time and confused lots of my family and peers, but I always believed my vision — for a platform which delivers immersive ‘XR’ training solutions to improve human performance globally — would enable me to help far more people than my role in medicine. My experiences training in medicine were what enabled me to come up with my business idea; but I knew it was time to transition into a new period of my career.”
Ultimately: if you believe in your vision, and you feel it’s the right path for you: don’t give up. As Young says: “you should never sacrifice a vision that you truly believe in.”
If you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s time to get creative
“Creative content is crucial; even as a small business you can make a huge impact with an effective content marketing strategy,” Lam explains. “A simple social media video can make your brand go viral on launch, and jumping on trends and popular memes will help you get noticed in the early days and weeks. It will certainly pay off in the long term if you create a really unique style and tone of voice that resonates with your audience.”
If you’ve never previously thought of yourself as a creative person, don’t let that put you off. Victor Lugger, co-founder of Big Mamma Group, previously saw himself as “the guy who would stick to the numbers, and let the creatives do their work” — but he wanted to prove to himself that he could be creative, too. “If you ask me today what I think creativity is, I’ll tell you it’s just a job,” he told Gentleman’s Journal. “If you put the time and the work in, you’ll get a good result in the end. It’s just like a sport: train hard, and you get better at it. You have to make time for it, too. To be creative, you have to read, you have to get bored, you have to walk around the house and get lost in thought.”
And when it comes to investors...
Felix Ohswald is the co-founder and CEO of GoStudent. “When connecting with an investor, you need to be clear what your mission is,” he explains. “What is it that you are looking to change or address? What are the real-world implications of your product or service? How is it scalable? You need to prove that you believe in your company and that you have a clear understanding of the market and how your company will grow.”
And you need to be strategic in terms of who you approach, too. “If you’re going to seek any type of funding or seed investments, make sure to do your homework on the investors most likely to be interested in your business or industry,” says Lam. “Know your numbers and how to adapt them – if you get some of your funding, what does that allow you to do – and could you do more with larger investment?”
Most importantly: get good people around you
If you don’t like delegating: well, too bad. It’ll be nigh on impossible for you to successfully launch a business without a good team around you — and, remember, there’s no ‘I’ in team. “Spend time building your network,” says Ohswald. “For someone who hasn’t founded a company before, making connections can be difficult. Leverage your colleagues, friends and family – ask for as many introductions as possible and don’t be afraid to sell yourself. This way, you will often be connected with someone that makes private investments, or is involved in an investment firm. This gives a running start as they will already know of you and understand what you are trying to achieve.”
And surrounding yourself with good people is paramount not just in terms of networking with investors, but in building the team at the brand itself. “From your customers, to your staff, your suppliers and wider stakeholders, it is really important you nurture and value these relationships and build a positive personal brand, alongside your company image,” says Lam. “These are the people that will get you through the tough times, and be your cheerleaders during the good.”
Looking for more entrepreneurial inspiration? Well, we recently announced the launch of our Horizons x Gentleman’s Journal partnership…
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