Eager to start your own business but find confidence the the biggest barrier preventing you from making it happen? Stylist Network's second event tackled the topic with incredibly successful entrepreneurs, including Kanya King, founder of the MOBO awards, Jessica Huie, founder of JH Public Relations and Colourblind Cards, Lisa Stickley founder of Lisa Stickley London, Jo Newton of Newton Network and Sara Murray, founder of Confused.com and Buddi. They tell how you can boost your business confidence
RULE 1: YOU DON'T NEED A KILLER IDEA TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS
If you wait for that great idea you may never get started. If you equate the success of a business with the success of an idea then you will give up very quickly. Or, if it succeeds, you’ll stick to it and won’t innovate or expand. Recognise that all products eventually become obsolete, but an ongoing business has the ability to evolve beyond the product’s life cycle. The ultimate product is the company itself.
RULE 2: SEE IT THROUGH
Be prepared to give the business time and energy. Building a business takes the same amount of time as any other career. It is not a way to get rich quick.
RULE 3: BE FLEXIBLE TO AVOID FUNDING
When Sara Murray asked investors to support Buddi, [a GPS safety device for children and the elderly] she said she was going to give it away for free and only charge for subscription. An investor criticised this approach, so she went away, came up with a Plan B and he invested. When she asked why he said, “Because you listened to and you adapted.” Lesson? Don’t be too rigid.
RULE 4: WRITE A BRAND STORY
A strong identity for your product should always be at the forefront of your mind. Jo Newton who helped interior designer Lisa Stickley propel her business forward suggests the best way to do this is to write a brand story: “This provides you with an uncompromising route. Lisa’s personality is the brand, she’s very open with a great sense of humour and wit which is reflected in her designs. Writing that down on paper reminds you to stick to it regardless.”
RULE 5: DON'T BE EMBARRASSED TO ASK FOR HELP AND INVESTMENT
At first Lisa Stickley funded her own designs but soon realised that she needed money to take the business to the next stage. Instead of going through big organisations she looked closer to home, a point which all the entrepreneurs agreed on. “Most people find that investors are a lot closer to home than you think. Ask yourself whether you have friends or even friends’ parents who might want to invest.” Then be confident and ask them.
RULE 6: BE BRAVE AND LOOK FOR A GAP IN THE EXISTING MARKET
Don’t expect a genius idea to just jump up; instead look for a gap in the market as Jessica Huie did. “One day I was looking for a card for my [mixed race] daughter who was about seven at the time. I wanted to find something that she could identify with – i.e. not Barbie - but couldn’t find a single card. That’s when I knew there was an opportunity.”
RULE 7: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
Networking is crucial, so start using every opportunity possible to make contacts. Use Kanya King as your inspiration, “I used to look after VIP boxes at Arsenal FC. One day I met the MD of London Weekend Television. I told him all about my idea, followed it up, and had a meeting. That one network made it all happen.”
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