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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Failure Guaranteed - Getting it wrong is the way forward

I doubt many people in the world see failure as a success but start-ups and new business leaders need to change their mind-set to accept this. Some of the biggest and most successful business people in the world have made some fantastic mistakes. Who remembers Virgin Brides or Virgin Cola? Sir RB certainly made howlers along the way but he is championed as one of the gurus of our time.

This week we look at assessing risk, failure and reward in a melting pot of business decision making.

Be afraid of the dark

Imagine starting a business without carrying out any market research, assessing the competition or even calculating the costs of your product. Sounds crazy? You would be surprised. Would you walk into a pitch black room and expect to make it to the door opposite without any idea of what pitfalls are in the room? You could get lucky but I doubt it.

Failing is acceptable IF the failure was unavoidable. Do not be scared of failing but make sure you take all proper precautions to reduce the risk.

Learn to Fail

I doubt there has ever been a successful entrepreneur who hasn't failed. There are plenty of failed entrepreneurs however. Learning to fail is one of the key mind-sets you have to accept as part and parcel of working for yourself. Thomas Edison once said "I haven't failed, I have tried hundreds of ways which didn't work". Be resilient, stay focussed and above all accept failure no matter how big or small as part of your learning curve.

One door closes, another one opens

This motto should be on the wall of every start-up. Every failure is an opportunity to move forward. Without being too philosophical, you can use failure to your advantage. It shows other businesses and contacts at the very least that you are brave and not afraid to take chances. You can earn respect from your peers by simply failing. Use this as an opportunity to re-evaluate and work out where is went wrong.

Your Comfort Zone is Your Worst Enemy

People who work for companies on the whole stay in their comfort zone. They do not have the desire or motivation to progress, take risks or generally make waves. They know at the end of each month they get paid. If they work at 99%, you need to work at 101%.

There is a fine line between the Comfort Zone and the Danger Zone. Be brave but do not be foolish. Can you do the job? Is it stretching your finances too far? Always assess the risk v reward aspect but remember to be Mr/Mrs 101%, it is your business after all.

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

I hear so many people throw this saying around in life that it seems to have lost its meaning. Failure is failure but it is not the end of the world or your entrepreneurial career.

Stay positive, if your business has failed, brush yourself off and find the next product/service. It is incredible how much easier your second business will feel to setup and get started. You already have your contacts (accountants/service providers/clients) so 90% of the hard work has been completed through "failure".


It isn't how hard or how high you fall, it is the manner with which you get back up that makes you different.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

It's Official: Money Doesn't Grow on Trees

Whenever I see a young, fresh faced entrepreneur walk into the office with their £1400 laptop, £500 iPad and £500 iPhone I smile on the inside. Starting a business with your own (or someone else's)money is not about going out and spending two thousand pounds on new toys to play with.

This week I am going to be looking at ways to save you money and explain why new shiny toys are not the answer in your formative months as a go getting entrepreneur.

Work as Hard Saving Money as Making It

Just think how hard you work making money. Sometimes you feel as if nobody wants you or your services. Now, on the other side of the coin you are happy to drink iced frappicappichinos at £4.50 a pop whilst using your £40 a month phone to check Facebook and LinkedIn.

All the hard work of getting the contract and completing the project has just been spent on cold coffee and looking at cat videos.

Write down your expenses in a spread sheet, monthly contracts, travel expenses and analyse your outgoings. Can you lower your phone tariff? Is there a weekly bus ticket? Try and see where you can make savings and do this at least every 3 months to keep on top of it.

Shop til you Drop

The internet is a wondrous place. Whether you work from a bedroom in inner city New York or a remote hut in Scotland you all have access to the same online stores.

Hardware, software, promotional material etc. can all be bought online and delivered in a relatively short space of time.

If you are getting ready to kit out your new office or just looking for a new laptop use the power of Google and eBay. You will be amazed at the cost savings. Here are some of the keywords I use when searching for cheaper alternatives:

  • discount software/ hardware
  • reconditioned
  • stock clearance
  • previous model search (e.g. iPhone 2/3/4)
  • eBay item "name"
  • Google store "name"
Even with the cost of delivery I would expect a good 25%-30% saving.

Don't Spend Money, Spend Time

You have skills, knowledge and a business based around these. Can you find companies you need products and services from who would be interested in a trade of services?

It can be something really simple, maybe in return for a frappicappichino you will write a review on Foursquare of their amazing coffee house. To you, it is a 5 or 10 minute review but to the coffee house it is a glowing endorsement of their establishment for a cost of about £2.

Trades are a great way to exchange desirable skills, you want X, they want Y. Try and think of other companies who you have offered services to but turned you down, can you offer a trade instead?

Every penny saved is a penny earned

Keep in mind that money is a resource. If you can reduce your costs and increase your income through trades and revenue your company has a far better chance of becoming a success.