Start up a business

“I want to disrupt the market and change the world we live in”

Exciting times

Starting up a business can be complex and the risk of failure is high. But it’s also incredibly exciting. You have the ability to run with your own idea, have creative free reign, be your own boss and make money whilst you’re at it. But how can you know if your idea will survive as a business? Unfortunately, you can’t and that’s part and parcel of being a startup. However, you can take steps to increase your chances of success.

It’s all down to you

If you adopt the right mindset, devise and implement a great strategy, respond to change and stay organised along the way, you’re already on the right track. There will be bumps along the road, but if you expect these and commit to being flexible with your idea then you’re setting yourself up for success.

No one is safe

Global development expert Patrick Forth has estimated that, by 2020, 75% of the Fortune 500 will be businesses we wouldn’t recognise today. Even the biggest household names are threatened by disruption.

What does it take to run a successful startup?

It’s going to be difficult to talk about what makes a successful startup without specifying what one actually is. Startups have traditionally been associated with smaller scale operations, yet size isn’t a startup’s defining feature.

We consider a startup to be any organisation with both of the following features:

  • High stakes. A startup has the potential to be highly lucrative and/or gain lots of traction.
  • Success is far from certain. A startup is a new business experimenting with something new: ideas, products, business models, new markets. Statistically, most startups fail as the market is incredibly volatile and competitive.

So, startups come in all shapes and sizes - there is no stereotypical entrepreneur!

Getting started

What does success take?

Your ideas need action. Just because startups don’t follow ‘traditional’ business models doesn’t mean they make it up as they go along. To succeed, you’ll still need structure and a strategy.

The startup mentality is deeply rooted in the concept of verifying your assumptions to gain validated learning. To continuously improve, you should build, test and change as you go along, as opposed to rigidly committing to a long-term plan. Adaptability will help to ensure your product remains innovative in a rapidly changing environment.

The culture of failing fast lies at the heart of all startups; constant experimentation helps you quickly determine the things which don’t work. You should test your ideas and products with the end user from the very start, and rework them based on the feedback you collect. Behind almost every visionary entrepreneur is a stack of prototypes that didn’t quite make it. As Thomas Edison once said, ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work’.

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Our top tips

  • Be passionate. You will need enthusiasm and belief to overcome hurdles you’ll face.
  • Get connected. Entrepreneurs are often prepared to help each other out and collaborate. There are also lots of organisations, meetups and initiatives designed to match you up with the startup community and investors.
  • Keep organised. You are going to be very busy and staying organised is key.
  • Stay compliant. Don’t forget that there are rules and regulations governing almost everything you’ll do with your business.
  • Research your idea. Does your product actually solve a problem consumers have? What niche does it fill in the market?
  • Be prepared for hard work. It’s a competitive market - every day someone has a new idea and you’ll have to work hard to beat the competition. This will probably mean putting in a lot of hours into a project with no certainty. Are you prepared to do this?
  • Stay ambitious. Don’t shy away from that revolutionary concept - the best ideas might be for new products which users don’t yet realise they want or need.
  • Listen to your end user. Test your product from the beginning. Feedback will help you work out what you need to change to create something that will sell.
  • Be incredibly flexible. The market changes all the time and your customers may not be aligned to your idea. Adapt your strategy/product to ensure your product satisfies them.
  • Refine constantly. The slightest product or design change could put a customer off your product. Customers can be picky so test even the small changes.
  • Be comfortable with failure. If you can’t recognise and learn from failure, you’ll find this industry tough. See it as an opportunity for improvement rather than a setback.

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Our guides and templates are designed to help answer some of those early questions that you might have. However there’s no substitute for getting advice from someone who’s been there before.


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