A gentleman’s guide to starting a business

Because it pays to get it right from the start, gentlemen

One common misconception about running your own business? That it’s fun. Yes, it might be fun when you’re Richard Branson and you practically own half of the world, but when you’re just starting out, there’s very little fun to be had.

Don’t let that put you off, though, because the benefits are huge. Seeing your business grow year-on-year, having people starting to notice it and seeing constant (positive) change is massively rewarding.

In 2015, nearly 609,000 businesses were started up in the UK – a record by any stretch of the imagination. Year after year, more and more people across the globe crave creative freedom and want to branch out on their own. And if you fall under that category, here’s what you should be doing.

Write a business plan

This may be an obvious one, but it’s crucial. Whether you’re looking to open a chain of hairdressers or to save the world through your conservation charity, every new business needs a plan. Not only will this help establish personal boundaries and goals, but it will also be the first thing that potential investors ask for, so it pays to be prepared.

Be realistic

It’s incredibly counter-productive to set yourself unrealistic goals that are impossible to achieve. Instead, think about a tightly-honed 5 year goal and a wider 10 year one. Don’t expect world domination immediately, and certainly don’t think about anything further than a decade away. Plans and strategies are there to be continually reassessed, and you can think about your 20 year plan in 5 years’ time.

Test the market

Make sure that your idea is solid by testing the market continuously for a relatively extended period of time. While it’s always good to trust yourself, you can’t always be sure that your idea is as genius as you think without testing it out with your potential consumers. It’s best not to get friends involved here, because they most likely will just tell you want you want to hear. Instead, get together a variety of different focus groups filled with strangers who will give you an honest opinion from the outset.

Listen to what others have to say

Whether this is your mother, your father or Jim from your focus group, it’s essential that you take every piece of advice on board. Don’t be stubborn. You don’t have to implement every small comment into an outcome, but you need to open your mind to what other people have to say, because they might just be right.

Tell people what you’re doing…

In the right circles, it can be a great idea to tell people your plans. You never what small talk at a drinks party might lead to; the right person might just take a liking to you and be able to put you in touch with someone who could potentially be able to change the face of your business. Don’t boast about it, but if you’re getting along with someone, and they ask the question, there’s no harm in putting it out there.

…But not too many

If you’ve got a fantastic idea, and you’re telling anyone who will listen, it’s most likely going to end in tears. Whether that’s someone trademarking the name you had planned on using, or stealing the entire idea as a whole, it’s just not worth it. Feeding it out to the right people is all well and good, but quality control is essential. It’s a cold, harsh world out there, gentlemen.

Get your finances in order

After all your hard work getting your business off the ground, it would be sad to have to cut and run in the early days because you haven’t kept your finances in order. If numbers aren’t your thing, get a helping hand. Don’t be lavish with your first company card and for God’s sake don’t employ someone before you can afford it. Think about investment, and go to the right people. It’s pretty unlikely you’ll be able to fund the business alone, so do your research tirelessly until you find the right fit.

Employ the right staff

When all is said and done and you’ve got all of the aforementioned in order, you need to find someone to help you. Whether that’s an advisor, an investor or someone that you actually employ, it’s essential that you get the right person on board to help you through thick and thin. Don’t be stubborn and refuse help, because even if that person is just a sounding board, it could massively help your company in the long run.

Looking to start a business while you’re still employed? Look no further

India Gladstone

India Gladstone

India is the Online Editor of Gentleman's Journal

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