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Cliched advice for budding entrepreneurs (in no particular order)

Today someone emailed me asking for advice on being/becoming an entrepreneur. I said I didn’t have much beyond cliches, but here are a few and I am happy to chat further. The below I penned in about ten minutes, so there’s many more things to think about than these, but this is what I had time to write, and you wouldn’t want to read a 200 point list. Who does?

So here’s my random tips on doing your own thing. Ask me tomorrow and the list might be a little different, but here’s today’s stream of consciousness on being your own boss. I base most of this on making mistakes and surviving, rather than any great personal wisdom. Here goes:

  • Decide you are unemployable. So you have no choice but to succeed.
  • Never assume you can borrow money. And don’t make it the first point of call as an idea.
  • Don’t give away too much equity, and be very suspicious of any investor who doesn’t understand your business.
  • Have idea that can actually work. It doesn’t have to be new but it does need a business model. You do need to know the market. Some experience in your chosen area is pretty vital.
  • Have some kind of USP, what do you have/do, that others really don’t? (not always needed but helps)
  • Have endless polite persistence.
  • Ditto that for enthusiasm.
  • Passion/obsession: be prepared to work the hours others will not. Both matter equally and are vital.
  • Be thinking about your pathways to success every waking moment.
  • Work smart: Sitting a desk 18 hours a day is not generally the right idea. Take breaks, use them for inspiration. Exercise/diet is really important. Refresh your optimism, you are going to need it.
  • Network, endlessly, and in the right way. Do people favours and don’t ask for anything back
  • Flatter people who can help you, but not too obviously or too much. Make it genuine. Don’t pretend. Find mentors.
  • Mental strength/delusion to get you through the months when you nearly go bust.
  • Tell your story, be the face of your brand.
  • Have a brand purpose, what do you want to achieve, how can you make a difference?
  • Have something to back that up, how are you putting values into action?
  • Don’t compromise on “red lines” when it comes to your values. Too much desire to please others won’t help
  • Use clever content marketing that tells your story, but adds value for the reader.
  • Cashflow is everything. Plan for that. Manage for that.
  • Put yourself in the mind of your potential customer. What are their pathways to purchase? What are their objections? How do you overcome those before they end the buying process?
  • Have a plan for the longer term: Are you looking to exit/flip? Or partial-exit (Private equity) or run a lifestyle business and see what happens?
  • Find someone to work with, as soon as you can, without giving up too much too soon, who covers your weaker points so you can focus on what you are good at.
  • Sell, sell, sell, never forget your are the best salesperson for your start-up.

I could go on, but that’s enough cliches. Hope you all had a lovely weekend.

1 Comment

  1. The line between cliche and wisdom is a fine one, but you’re not close to the line. Wisdom, and I reckon, hard learned you’ve put on offer. Of course, I have an amendment and and an addition. To your correct advice on networking, I would add, ‘but never give your product away’. For the same reason, I’d insist, ‘As soon as you add an employee, put yourself on salary, even if you don’t take some or all of it.’ The values you place on your product and your contribution are what your potential customers and your employees will impute.